The Rams will look to recover from a an early season 44-8 loss to the Raiders when they square up again this week in the Central Alberta semifinal. Red Deer Express File Photo

The Rams will look to recover from a an early season 44-8 loss to the Raiders when they square up again this week in the Central Alberta semifinal. Red Deer Express File Photo

Rams relying on defence to take out Raiders in semifinal

Friday’s matchup a contest between two emerging football programs

The Lacombe Rams are now in the Central Alberta football playoff picture and will square up against the up-and-coming Lindsay Thurber Raiders.

The game, which is at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Great Chief Park, features two teams that could be described as two sides of the same coin. Both teams are rebuilding, are well coached, have strong defences and emergent offences that will figure prominently into who will go on to the finals the following week.

Rams Coach Brian Ross said the Rams will have to be “dominant offensively” for their season to carry on.

“I think we have to come out very quickly and very strong,” he said. “We haven’t done that much this year. I have been around this program close to 18 years and we have never been a strong starting team.

“In order to be effective, we have to put them on their heels by being strong off the bat.”

Luckily for the Rams, their Quarterback Mitch Simmons has shown considerable growth in his first season at the helm and has a plethora of veteran receivers at his disposal.

“We are going to be so reliant on our strong players,” Ross said. “We have really good skilled position guys like Richard (Jans) and Simon (Gray), Zach Schwab, Mitch (Simmons), Turner Douglas on offence.

“Those guys will have to take the game into their own hands and be difference makers.”

Ross had a chance to have a look at the Raiders, albeit their rookies, last week in a game that the Rams lost 20-14.

“Coach (Aaron Sheppard) and I from Lindsay Thurber value this opportunity to get kids in that perhaps don’t get as much playing time as some of the others,” Ross said. “It is an opportunity for them to apply their trade and show us what they can do in game situations as opposed to in practice.”

The game, which meant nothing in the standings, allowed Ross to know what he has in case one of his starters goes down with an injury.

“We are now more comfortable taking a kid and inserting him when we have a need,” he said, adding both coaches simplified their playbooks to not give any advantage in the playoffs.

“We went with very basic set plays to not give a whole lot out,” he said.

This week, Ross and his coaching staff are going through game film and the playbook in order to be ready for Friday.

“I spent three to four hours yesterday redoing game film and rethinking what we may need to get rid of in our playbook and what we may need to add,” he said, adding his players are focusing on repetition in order to zero in on each play.

Ultimately, Ross said they will rely on defence that has been solid from start to finish.

“We have to rely on our defence and special teams to be a game-changer for us,” he said. “We match up well defensively with them and we have improved over the course of the year in terms of our line play and offence in particular.

“The best we can do is take the horses and set them free against a good Lindsay Thurber team. They are as good as it gets and offensively they are very gifted. Our defence will be put to the test.”

Ross added he enjoys playing against Thurber and expects a fun game for both squads.

“It is usually a clean game and I like the way they coach their kids. They show respect to their kids and opponents and I like to think we do the same thing. For us, it is a good matchup,” he said.

todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

Just Posted

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

Intricate cloth masks with Indigenous design made by Teresa Snow. Facebook/ Masks4Maskwacis
‘Masks 4 Maskwacis’ wins Northern Lights Volunteer Award

The group received recognition for their efforts to support their community during COVID-19.

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Most Read