The Lacombe Composite High School Rams were back on the field Saturday for their first exhibition match of the season.
The Rams battled against the Sylvan Lakers Aug. 31 at MEGlobal Field to a 21-21 tie, but while the game wasn’t for points in the standings, there was value for both teams in figuring out what they had in their aresenal for their upcoming regular season games.
“Coach (Jeremy) Braitenback from Sylvan Lake and I both had the idea we would play everybody today, so, for the most part, quarter one and three were starters, and quarters two and four were backups. To keep the game close, we shortened that a little bit in the fourth quarter,” said Ross. “It was cool. I was happy.”
It was especially helpful given the Rams have one of their biggest turnouts in recent years for football players, with 55-60 student athletes showing interest in the team. About 24 of those are returning players, including quarterback Mitch Simmons and receiver Zach Schwab who will lead the offensive charge, along with Takoda Dennis and Cody Melynchuk.
In Saturday’s game, Dennis scored the opening touchdown of the game, and while it would be negated by the Lakers’ Cody Peever, Melnychuk would tie the game 14-14 for the half.
Alex Williams would give the Rams a 21-14 lead with 14.8 seconds left in the third, aided by a 45-yard throw from Simmons, while Schwab was effective in not only gaining yards for his team, but putting a damper on some of the Lakers’ offence as well.
“They’re maturing as football players. Zach Schwab is as good a receiver as I’ve come across. He’s intelligent. Mitch has picked up the game to a point where I have no worries with him – he’s thinking on the field and we’ve got a nice supporting cast around those guys,” said Ross.
“Cody Melnychuk is doing well, Takoda’s doing well…He’s very football knowledgable. If we can just figure out a way to get the ball to him more – teams are not even going to throw anywhere near him pretty soon.”
A Rams throw would be intercepted by the Lakers in the fourth quarter, and while Schwab stopped their first attempt at tying the game, the Lakers capitalized on the next play. Neither team would score with the remaining five minutes of play and the game ended 21-21.
On Friday, Sept. 6, the Rams will face J.C. Schubert out of Calgary at 7:30 p.m. at MEGlobal Field. Intensity is expected to ramp up as the team works towards its first regular season game Sept. 20. Ross says there will likely be fewer backups on the field and more starters, but overall doesn’t know what to expect out of that team.
“There’s going to be less sharing the field with backups and probably be a little more ‘go, go, go,’ but I don’t really know what to expect out of them. They’re a young program and they don’t know what to expect out of us, I’m assuming,” he said.
“We’re still struggling a little bit with line play but that’s something that’s going to take time. It’s going to take time for some of those guys to mature into that high school, big deal, ‘I’ve got to be a little more aggressive’ mentality.”
The Rams schedule for the rest of the season is as follows:
- Sept. 6 vs. J.C. Schubert at 7:30 p.m., MEGlobal Field
- Week of Sept. 12 – TBA
- Sept. 20 vs. Hunting Hills High School at 7:30 p.m., MEGlobal Field
- Sept. 27 vs. Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School at 7:30 p.m., MEGlobal Field
- Oct. 4 at Lloydminster
- Oct. 11 @ Notre Dame High School at 4:30 p.m.
- Playoffs begin Oct. 25