The Lacombe Bantam Raiders weren’t ready for the stampede.
On Friday, the team was shutout 61-0 by the Grande Prairie Broncos during the Football Alberta Provincial Final at MEGlobal Field, in a game where they not only struggled to get their offence going, but were hard-pressed to stifle that of their opponents.
“That wasn’t exactly the way I thought it would go,” said Head Coach Fred Knip. “We were woefully out of our league on this one.”
Despite a little bit of snow and cooler -20 degree temperatures with the windchill at the field, both teams looked ready to go at kickoff. It didn’t take long, however, for the Broncos to take control of the game, and land their first touchdown. On the last play of the quarter, the Broncos added a second to take a 14-0 lead with the conversion.
Less than five minutes into the second quarter, the Broncos had scored twice to lead 27-0. Raiders quarterback Gabe Hiebert began throwing further downfield to get their offence going, however, throws ended up just being out of the reach of receiver Alexzander Williams. Landon Schneider, nor Drizzit Bittorf had much better luck, either, stopped by the Broncos defence as though the Broncos were able to predict their every move ahead of time.
By the half, the team was down 41-0.
“At the end of the first quarter, the first half, we asked ‘who’s doing your job? You have to do your own job, you have to finish it,’” Knip said.
“They (the Broncos) came well prepared and we just kept making mistakes.”
He said weather wasn’t a factor, given their opponents were dealing with the same conditions they were – on top of an eight-hour drive from Grande Prairie on what were less than ideal road conditions.
Yet, the weather cooled just as much as the Raiders offence did, and the cool wind didn’t bring any change in the second half of the game. Early in the third quarter, they were sent deep into their own zone, and never got too far outside of it.
Even in the latter stages of the fourth quarter when the Raiders were just looking to break the shutout, the Broncos didn’t let them get anywhere near their end line, and quarterback Labrecque had the final touchdown of the game, running the ball 11 yards to make the final score 61-0.
It was the second year in a row the Bantam Raiders made it the provincial finals. While they weren’t able to take gold either year – falling 27-9 to the St. Paul Bengals last season – Knip said there were many things to be happy about, including being the only team from Central Alberta to make it to the provincial final.
“I’m still really proud of the boys. They played well. They came out here, they saw, they were conquered. At the end of the day, we got silver instead of gold, but we’re second best in the province,” he said.
“It wasn’t the way we thought it would go, but the season’s over and we had a good run.”
Half of the team will return next year, while many will move up to play at the high school level with the Lacombe Composite High School Rams. Openings in the roster will likely be filled with members of the Lacombe Pee Wee Explosion team that had a perfect record up until their provincial final last weekend where they fell 24-8 to also earn silver.