Raiders take home the championship
The Lacombe Bantam Raiders football team are advancing to the Alberta Provincial semi-finals in Lethbridge this weekend to take on the Lethbridge Jr. Coyotes.
The Bantam Raiders defeated the Stettler Cougars 28-26 in a nail-biting, down to the wire game, as Lacombe claimed the Central Football League’s B Division North title.
Lacombe opened the scoring with a 45-yard touchdown run by tailback Tanner Park. Cole Lardner add a two-point conversion to make it 8-0 at the five minute mark of the first quarter.
Stettler’s Blake O’Conner scored a 76-yard run two minutes later, but the Cougars missed the extra points and the score was 8-6 for Lacombe.
Second quarter action saw Park score two more touchdowns. Lardner added two more points on conversions and the Raiders took a 22-6 lead into the half.
Stettler started the second half with a long drive when Reece Krandler brought the score to 22-12 in the third quarter after the conversion was missed.
The -14 degree Celsius weather played havoc as both team fumbled several times as the game wore on.
In the fourth quarter, Lacombe stalled on the Stettler’s 45-yard line and elected to fake the punt when long snapper, Ethan Quance, snapped directly to Park, who rambled to the 2-yard line before being knocked out of bounds. On the next play, fullback Cody Melynchuk dieseled his way over the goal line for a 28-12 lead with five minutes left in the game.
Stettler’s defence played tough and forced Lacombe to take a safety, bringing the score to 28-14. They elected to take the ball on Lacombe’s 35-yard line and within several plays, Stettler’s Bryce George scored with 2:46 left in the game, but once again Stettler could not convert and the score was 28-20.
Stettler kicked a short kickoff and the ball scooted away from the Lacombe into Stettler’s hands. O’Conner ran 52 yards to bring the score to 28-26 at the 2:29 mark of the fourth quarter. The convert failed and Lacombe led with 2:29 remaining.
Lacombe’s offence managed to control the clock and the Raiders won the game.
Cardiovascular conditioning and practicing in the cold all week paid off this weekend.
The Raiders travel to Lethbridge to play at 11 a.m. at the University of Lethbridge Community Stadium against the South Alberta Division B champions, the Coyotes, for the right to play in the provincial finals on November 18 in Grand Prairie.