The Lacombe Rams came into their semifinal City playoff matchup against the Lindsay Raiders needing to “dominate” offensively, according to Coach Brian Ross.
It would be tightly contested throughout, but it would be the Raiders who would pull through — winning 20-10 in a game that was closer than the score.
“That was a barn-burner,” Raiders Coach Aaron Sheppard said. “That was one of our hardest games all year. Lacombe came to play. They are well coached and they wanted it more than us in the first half.”
Early on, it would look like it would be their game — getting off to a quick 7-0 lead after Richard Jans recovered a Raider fumble on the opening drive, running it back 40 yards for the score.
“The highlight was going to have to be us starting out strong,” Rams Coach Brian Ross said. “We did. We held a really good offensive Lindsay Thurber team to not much for three quarters of the game.”
The Raiders would keep the game in grasp after a field goal by Martin Leroy cut the Ram lead to 7-3. The Rams would follow that up with two fantastic chances of getting further ahead, but would be unable to capitalize on two redzone attempts.
“Our glaring weaknessess are our glaring weaknesses. Defensively we are super strong, but it is hard to be a really good offensive line in the redzone,” Ross said.
The Raiders would use that opportunity to go up 10-3, after Quarterback Josh Campbell called his own number for a three-yard score.
It would look like the Raider lead would hold into halftime, but the Rams would manage to tie the game in the dying seconds on a 32-yard kick by Simon Gray.
The third quarter would fail to yield results for either squad, with the Rams preventing a touchdown on third and goal — meaning this game would come down to the final quarter.
A sustained drive by the Raiders would eventually result in another 27-yard field goal for Leroy, giving them a crucial three-point lead with six minutes to play.
“That was a relief, but I knew it wasn’t going to be enough, so I am glad we busted that one at the end,” Sheppard said.
The Raiders would put the game away after Kaidyn Puttick ran it back 67 yards, putting his team up 20-10 and sending them to the City finals next week against either Notre Dame or Hunting Hills.
“I don’t think I want to play either team, but I have to choose one. We will see what comes out. They are both pretty solid,” Sheppard said.
Ross was pleased with the way his team finished the season.
“It is pretty fun to watch high school football like that. I think everybody got their money’s worth today. The kids never gave up and both teams played well,” Ross said, adding he expects many of his players to go on in football.
“There are a number of guys that can go on to play junior football or CIS if they chose to. I would be fully supportive of them if they did, but for our high school football team — those are big shoes to fill. It is pretty tough to expect bantam kids to come up and fill those shoes,” Ross said.
The date and time of the City finals was not available at press time.