The Lacombe Rams ended their regular season at home on Oct. 17th with a 30-7 loss against the Lindsay Thurber Raiders, bringing their record to 6-0 heading into the playoffs.
Coach Riley Quance said the lack of wins for the Rams isn’t for lack of effort. In fact, he admitted that coaching staff had a share in the blame for the difficult season.
“I would think that this year the coaches, myself in particular, have to take responsibility for a lot of where we are,” said Quance.
“We’ve struggled with trying to identify who we are and what we do well. We’ve tried some different things and they haven’t always worked.”
Like the rest of Lacombe’s football teams this year, the Rams had a lot of turnover on their roster this season. Quance said trying to find where players fit in the transition and system changes was a bit of a challenge for coaching staff.
“We had a huge graduating class, so kids had to take on different roles this year,” said Quance.
“Plus we had a bunch of new players that were able to come in from the Bantam program and were able to start up into starting roles,” he added.
While the new players have talent and stepped up to the challenge of playing at a higher level, Quance said it has still been a struggle for coaches and players to find where they fit best and how best to make them work as a team.
As for how the players have actually performed, Quance said he is happy despite the record.
“I’m proud of the way the kids have played,” said Quance. “They have worked hard and done everything we have asked them to do.”
Moving players around was one of the problems last Friday night.
Loss of players halfway through the second quarter meant the Rams were shuffling players around, which meant the flow of the Rams’ offence was impacted.
While the Rams were unable to execute a consistent offensive game throughout the entire game on Friday, they were still in the game until the second half.
Quance said this shows that the Rams certainly have the potential to compete with the other teams in the league.
“If we execute well, we can play with the teams in this league,” said Quance.
He added the Rams have faced stiff competition from their Red Deer opponents all season.
“The Red Deer teams are definitely solid this year,” said Quance. “There’s not a lot of weakness in any of the three programs.”
As most of the season has been spent by the Rams trying to figure out how best they work together, Quance said they have been improving with each game and are now getting to a point where they could possibly gain momentum.
“Right now we feel confident that we’ve figured out what our best looks are, what our best formations are and our best personnel assignments,” said Quance.
Even though they head into playoffs this weekend without a win yet, Quance said he is hopeful.
“We’re looking forward to putting on a good performance (Friday),” said Quance.
He went on to say that the format of playoffs gives the Rams an opportunity to still come back this season.
“If we play our best ball, we can be that dark horse for sure.”
In any case, the team will be well set for next season, he said.
Quance said that this year’s graduating class is much smaller meaning fewer players will be lost and many of the newcomers have stepped into starting roles meaning they will be ready to go at the start of the season next fall.