BY ZACHARY CORMIER
The Lacombe Composite High School Rams football team is looking to be a competitor as the 2016 Central Alberta High School Football League playoffs draw ever closer.
The Rams (3-3) currently sit in third place in the CAHSFL after a huge 48-20 win over the Lindsay Thurber Raiders (0-6) in a special Monday night game at MEGlobal Athletic Park earlier this week.
Despite the win, though, Rams Head Coach Jason Petrie said the team isn’t quite where they want to be as they prepare to head into their final game of the regular season against Notre Dame on Friday.
“Not tonight. We showed flashes of where we want to be.
“I was happy with the result and in some ways I was happy with some of the things we did. It was kind of a tough game for us, I think,” Petrie said after the Monday night game.
“I don’t think we played well, really. On the whole, too many mental mistakes but at the same time we must have done something right because we put 48 up. But realistically this was supposed to be a stepping-stone game,” he said.
It didn’t take long for the Rams to draw first blood, though, as just 20 seconds into the opening quarter, Lacombe quarterback Jonathan Ericson connected with star wideout David Mueller for a 43-yard touchdown pass and run to give his team an early 7-0 lead after the convert.
Just 10 minutes later the Rams were at it again.
This time Ericson tossed to Grade 10 receiver Simon Gray for his first of two touchdowns on the night.
But among the touchdowns and big scoring plays, a few cracks began to show in the Rams’ previously-impenetrable defense, especially in the run game.
The Rams surrendered a total of 171 yards rushing and 168 yards through the air to the Raiders, including one rushing and two passing touchdowns.
Petrie said the fact that the game was on Monday was probably a factor in a shaky performance for the Rams due to the fact that it shook up their entire schedule.
“I think Monday night threw us off. It was kind of a weird night for us,” he said, adding that the compression week will also make Friday’s game against Notre Dame that much tougher.
“They’ve put themselves into a situation where they’ve got to win, we’re in a situation where we want to win. So who knows what’s going to happen when it’s a compression week.”
Still, the Rams’ explosive offence wasn’t without its positives.
Ericson was solid as ever, completing 8 of his 14 passes for 163 yards passing and five touchdowns.
Over the course of the game, the Grade 11 quarterback connected with four different receivers in the end zone.
Meanwhile, kicker Jake Hamilton converted seven of eight point after trys on his way to a seven point night. Not bad for a guy who normally plays defensive back.
Running back Kyle Popp posted 129 yards rushing, which helped the team to a whopping 358 yards on the ground in the game.
Now the team’s attention will quickly turn to getting set for perhaps their biggest test yet: a Friday night matchup against the 5-1 Notre Dame Cougars.
For the Rams, a win would mean posting their first winning season in four years.
But for the Cougars, a loss would mean potentially conceding first place in the league to their bitter rivals at Hunting Hills.
“Compression weeks are always tough when you have a four-day practice week and you play on a Monday, and you have to practice on a Tuesday it’s still tough,” said Petrie, adding that while in his opinion Monday night’s game wasn’t particularly physical, it’s still football.
“Kids are still getting banged up and getting pushed around and smacked around and tackled. So we’ll practice tomorrow but it’s not going to be a full dough.”
The Rams are back in action for their final regular season game this Friday when they take on the Notre Dame Cougars at MEGlobal Athletic Park. Kickoff on that one is at 4:30 p.m.