Bantam Raiders kick off season with win

Noah Monchamp, #53, of the Lacombe Bantam Raiders and teammate Brady Van Der Heide, #5, slow down their Lindsay Thurber Raiders opponent during Central Football League action at M.E.Global Athletic Park on Saturday. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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In a battle between two bands of raiders football teams, it was the Lacombe Bantam Raiders that came out on top in their first game of the season Saturday.

The Raiders toppled their Lindsay Thurber counterparts 40-8 at M.E.Global Athletic Park, during a week they weren’t originally supposed to play.

“I was pleasantly surprised – we were supposed to have a bye this week so we only had three days to practice,” said Raiders Head Coach Fred Knip. “The boys picked it up and they really performed well.”

Coming off a 2017 campaign that saw them go 4-2, in the regular season, and advance to provincials where they fell 27-9 to the St. Paul Bengal’s in the gold medal game, the team is looking to build off that success this year.

It began on Saturday, where the team controlled the majority of the game.

With just 4:53 left to go in the game, the Raiders went up 26-8 on a touchdown by Gabe Hiebert. That score would remain heading into the fourth quarter.

Just over five minutes into the final frame, Landon Schneider received a touchdown pass to increase their score to 32-8. Alexzander Williams added another touchdown with 2:34, with a two-point conversion to make it 40-8, which would be the final score.

The key to the game, according to Knip, was the Raiders’ defence.

“The defensive coach has done a good job of shaping these boys into a steel wall,” he said. “They were just on fire.”

On the offensive side, he credited a number of speedsters, including Alex Williams, Landon Schneider and Declan Schlecht.

Seen as a development team, Knip says one of his goals with every Bantam Raiders team is to make sure the players get along and learn how to be a team.

“We’re just having fun. It allows these guys a place to belong, to be accepted,” he said. “We gelled today as a family, as a team.”

The Bantam Raiders will play their next two games at home at M.E. Global Athletic Park, including Saturday, Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. against the Notre Dame Cougars, and Sept. 22 at 1:30 p.m.