For the second time in the last three years, the Lacombe Composite High School Rams found themselves struck by the Hunting Hills Lightning in the Central Alberta High School Football League final.
On a rainy Saturday afternoon, the Rams fell 31-0 to the Lightning under the lights at Setter’s Place in Red Deer, relinquishing gold once more to their opponents.
“It’s been the snake that keeps biting me right on the rump,” said Rams Head Coach Brian Ross. “Whatever anyone feels about the Hunting Hills football team, you can’t argue with the fact they are successful every year and you have to respect that.”
It looked like the Rams might weather the storm at the start of the game – even coming close to landing their first touchdown towards the end of the first quarter, with Zach Schwab receiving a pass from quarterback Mitch Simmons deep in the Lightning zone. However, the following play saw the Lightning intercept a pass and send play the opposite direction.
The seemed to be the spark the Lightning needed, and Joel Hunt would score the first touchdown of the game on the ensuing series. He’d strike again towards the end of the first half, dodging through the Rams charge for a 17-yard touchdown to make the score 14-0 at the half.
The Lightning continued to carry momentum into the second half, with Hunt scoring twice more. The Rams’ Cody Melynchuk almost ruined the shutout, breaking away and making a 52-yard run into the Lightning zone in the dying minutes, but he wouldn’t be fast enough to outrun the Lightning as was taken down. The Lighting would add a field goal to wrap up the game.
“Hunting Hills was well prepared for us. They have a good pass-defence – we just couldn’t counter it with what we were bringing,” Ross said, noting Monday’s upset victory against the top-seeded Lindsay Thurber Raiders may have had the team riding a bit too high into the game.
“If you study the psychology of it, it was such a momentous win for our program last week. Maybe they had that winner’s bad luck, or World Series Jinx or whatever they call it.”
The Lightning will now advance to the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASSA) finals to face Bert Church High School, while the Notre Dame Cougars defeated the Thurber Raiders 27-24 Friday to take the bronze medal.
Overall, Ross said he like the effort from his team over the course of the season.
“The kids who were the real deal players for us all year were real deal players for us tonight. It shows – the real athletes show up when the going gets tough,” he said.
Most of the team will likely return next year, with about eight players graduating. However, he said they’ll lose a few key pieces, though some will move on to the next level.
“Some of them are pretty spectacular players and touch to replace – your quarterback and running back, your o-lineman. Most of the defence comes back but we get rid of a few,” he said.
“I already know Cam Wetzel has signed with the U of A. I like to think that Takoda (Dennis) and Zach Schwab will go find a junior team to play with and I imagine if he wants to, Skylar Allarie has all the tools to do it.”
The Rams football team will also have a banquet in the weeks to come. Season awards are usually held for the football team at that time, separate from LCHS’ athletic awards at the end of the year.