Lacombe Bantam Raiders fall to Stettler in round one of CAFL playoffs

Harley Gagnon of the Lacombe Bantam Raiders hauls down his Stettler Cougars opponent Saturday, during their round one playoff game in Stettler. Lorisa Schlecht / Lacombe Bantam Raiders

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For the first time in a couple years, the Lacombe Bantam Raiders won’t be going for league gold.

On Saturday, the Raiders were shutout 58-0 by the Stettler Cougars at William E. Hay High School football field in the first round of the playoffs.

“I thought if we could keep up with the Stettler team in the first half, we could maybe wear them down in the second half, but that was not the case,” said Head Coach Fred Knip.

On Stettler’s opening kick-off, with the wind at their back, they landed the ball on the Raiders’ two-yard line, leading them to open the scoring on their first possession.

While the Raiders kept the score close for the quarter, Knip said injuries and cold impacted their game.

“We lost our starting centre, and then the back-up centre before we had a third centre fill in half way through the second quarter,” said Knip. “Stettler’s nose guard was a third-year veteran and we had a challenge just getting the ball into play.”

At 2:13 of the third, Stettler increased their lead to36-0, triggering the Central Alberta Football League’s “mercy rule” and game was played in straight time.

The Raiders called a time out, and back-ups were put into the game. Stettler, however, would score three more touchdowns, leaving their starters in the game for its duration.

“I was disappointed that Stettler left their third-year all-star players in the game when they were clearly in the driver’s seat. That wasn’t very classy at all,” said Knip. “I have all the more admiration for our younger players for not backing down and staying focused.

“These first-year players held their own and did well, considering they stood around in the cold howling wind for half the game.”

While they won’t go for gold, they will try for bronze this Saturday against the Drumheller Titans at Drumheller Valley Secondary School Central . Kickoff is at 4 p.m.