The Lacombe Raiders have added another win to their undefeated season.
On Oct. 11th, the Lacombe Raiders traveled to Red Deer to take on the Hunting Hills Lightning and defeated them 32-11 making their record 6-0.
Although the Raiders finished the game with a more than comfortable lead, they began the game with a bit of a struggle.
In the first half of the game, they wrestled with the Lightning for control of the game.
“They came out better than us,” said Raiders Coach Wayne Haarstad. “We struggled at the start.”
Defensively, the Raiders were strong in the first half. However the lack of yards gained by the offensive line put pressure on the defense and led to them giving up a few yards and subsequent touchdowns.
Even when the Raiders offence did manage to gain good field position, they lacked those few extra yards needed to get the ball into the end zone and score.
For the majority of the first half, the Lightning managed to keep the upper hand over the Raiders.
When the Raiders finally did manage to pull even with Hunting Hills, the Lightning soon scored a field goal to put them ahead once again.
For the remainder of the half, the Raiders spent their time trying to once again catch up to Red Deer, but couldn’t gain enough traction on the offense. Score at the end of the first half of play was 11-8 in favour of the Hunting Hills Lightning.
When play began in the second half, it was like the Raiders were an entirely new team.
They began an all-out offensive assault on the Lightning, dominating play both on offence and defense.
When they had the ball, the Raiders offense was an unstoppable force as they stormed their way down the field.
Several times, long runs put the Raiders right at the goal line and each time, they managed to punch it into the end zone to score.
Quarterback Jonathan Ericson was in particularly stellar form, especially since the previous half. Ericson called the right numbers and got the ball into the right hands, allowing for the Raiders to make
those long runs and get in scoring position.
He even put the ball over the goal line himself a few times to score some touchdowns.
Logan Ellis was another key player in the game.
Ellis made some incredibly impressive runs to make it easy for the Raiders to get the ball in the end zone.
Little could break the Raiders’ stride. Even though a few embarrassing turnovers could have turned the tide in the game, the Raiders shrugged them off, answering one turnover due to a fumble by recovering the ball with an intercepted pass on the next play.
On the defensive side, the Raiders continued to be reliable and even improved.
They shut down all attempts by Red Deer and prevented their opponents from gaining any momentum on offence and preventing them from scoring a single touchdown in the second half.
Lacombe’s victory this weekend and record this season is impressive, especially considering they lost a few key veterans last year due to age.
Haarstad said that there are a lot of rookies on this year’s roster but they are stepping up to fill in new roles nicely.
Even though the Raiders may be a fairly young team this year, they have still built quite nicely off last year’s momentum. Haarstad said this is in part because the Raiders are very passionate about football.
He said that the he and the rest of the coaching staff have little to do with the Raiders’ success this season. Instead, the Raiders coaching staff follow a philosophy of instilling a love for the sport into their players which leads to them wanting to play better football.