Raiders en route to provincial championship

The Lacombe Raiders are one game away from a provincial championship title.

The Lacombe Raiders are one game away from a provincial championship title.

After winning their league championship final against the Hunting Hills Lightning earlier this month, the Raiders were in Edmonton on Nov. 8th to take on the Mustangs, defeating them 33-20.

Coach Darren Gagnon said it was another hard fought battle for the Raiders, where they competed against the elements as well as the other team, but the team dug deep and found what they needed to come out on top.

“Our kids did what they had to do in the end,” said Gagnon.

Edmonton opened scoring for the game on the very first play.

Despite their early disadvantage, the Raiders slowly but steadily marched back down the field to tie things back up, said Gagnon. Things continued to be a little back-and-forth for the first half, with it ending tied at 14.

In the second half, Edmonton once again opened scoring, getting an edge on the Raiders.

Gagnon said the score remained 20-14 in favour of the Mustangs until late in the fourth quarter when the raiders were able to pull ahead, winning the game 33-20.

As has been said before, what the Raiders lack in talent they make up for in heart.

Gagnon said, just like as in the league final, it was the team’s passion that won them the game.

“The kids just didn’t give up, they kept working hard,” said Gagnon. “It’s the same as they’ve done all year. They fought through the weather and they fought through the cold and the snow and the opponents.”

Snowy conditions played a bit of a factor in the game.

Not only were the Raiders dealing with a snow-covered field, their passing game was also affected. Gagnon said they were able to work around this by utilizing more short-passing plays and handoffs rather than long passing plays.

Gagnon said the Mustangs put up a good fight against the Raiders, but the Raiders’ prowess may have come as a bit of a shock to the Edmonton team.

“I think we surprised them, how tough we were,” said Gagnon.

Winning the provincial semi-final had special meaning for the Raiders this past weekend, as they were on the field without one of their coaches.

On the day before the game, Coach Wayne Haarstad was rushed to the hospital with heart problems and is still in hospital recovering at press time.

Gagnon said the loss of one coach meant the rest of the coaching staff, as well as the players, needed to be more focused.

He added that Haarstad is not expected to be at the provincial final on Saturday either. Hopefully, playing for their missing coach will inspire the Raiders even further, said Gagnon.

“The kids all love Wayne,” said Gagnon. “I’m sure they’d like to make him proud.”

Certainly, regardless of the outcome this weekend, Gagnon said both he and Haarstad are already incredibly proud of the team.

“They’ve been incredible,” said Gagnon.

“Their desire and their passion and the heart that they have has allowed them to win a few games where they were probably up against opponents with more skill and talent. They’ll definitely have to do that this weekend. This team that we’re playing this weekend is outstanding – they’re superior to any team that we have played so far.”

Now the Raiders advance to play the Calgary Cowboys (Grey) in the provincial final.

“They’re really, really good,” said Gagnon.

“I think they have only lost one game all year, the Calgary team. It will be another new level versus what we played in Edmonton.”

Last year’s Raiders team also made it to the provincial final, but lost the championship match. Gagnon said it will be an incredibly tough battle if this year’s Raiders (so far undefeated) hope to improve that record, but he is hopeful the team can continue to surprise everyone.

news@lacombeexpress.com

 

Just Posted

Thurber Raiders snatch season opener from the Lacombe Rams

Red Deer game saw 44-8 win for the Raiders

City crews clean up Lacombe yard

Loads of debris were taken out of the residence property on Sept. 21st

Wolf Creek Schools raises Treaty 6 flag for first time

Chiefs, school officials took part in a ceremony that is aimed at acknowledging Treaty 6 land

Lacombe Generals looking to capture Allan Cup on home ice

Generals returning key veterans in hopes avenging last years finals loss

Unsightly properties upcoming focus for Bylaw Enforcement

Clean up of long-standing, problematic properties will begin on Sept. 21

WATCH: AHS breaks ground on new Lacombe Community Health Centre

17,000 sq. ft. facility will bring existing Lacombe AHS services together

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

BALONEY METER: Do Liberal policies mean a typical family is $2,000 richer?

MPs took to Twitter to talk how ‘typical’ Canadian families have more money due to Liberal policies

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Most Read