The Lacombe Composite High School Rams came close to earning their first victory of the season, but surrendered a touchdown to the Holy Rosary Raiders to fall 27-26.
The loss marked their second this year in as many games at M.E.Global Athletic Park, but despite the heartbreaking loss, Rams Head Coach Brian Ross says there was much to be pleased about.
“The real big difference from this game to last game was our o-line has improved about 100 per cent. When Mitch (Simmons) has a bit of time and we can create some creases and give him a second to throw the ball…it becomes very good,” he said.
“Our kids, obviously, have improved so I think they’re hearing some of the yelling (coaches) are doing right now.”
The game started out on the right foot with Rams quarterback Mitch Simmons finding Richard Jans in the endzone to put the team up 7-0 with just under eight minutes to go in the first quarter. Just a few minutes later, however, their opponents responded with two quick touchdowns to put the Rams behind 14-7.
The Raiders widened the score in the second quarter with a pass interception that saw their opposition head down field for a 50- yard touchdown, before Simmons snapped a couple to Jans with under three minutes left in the quarter to make the score 21-20 Raiders heading into the half.
It wouldn’t be until the final quarter that offence picked up again, and just like the opening frame, it would be the Rams that kickstarted it, this time with Turner Douglas landing the touchdown to make it 26-21.
That lead, however, wouldn’t last long.
With 2:17 left to go, the Raiders responded, and while Simon Gray had opportunity to take back the lead in the dying seconds, he fumbled the ball, and with a bit of heated emotion directed towards the referee, earned his team a penalty, which ultimately put the game out of reach.
“Mistakes happen and we have to teach kids that. In sports, you have to have a short memory – Simon can lament a fumble, but he made a bunch of good plays,” Ross said.
“I like intensity – I’m an intense guy….as long as they’re not reacting, reacting , and reating to silly things that happen in a contact game, I’m OK with that.”
As for what’s going to push them into the win column, however, Ross said it came down to the team just figuring out the sport and becoming more “football intelligent.”
They’ll be on the road for the next couple of weeks, including in Bonnyville on Friday, Sept. 14, and Red Deer to face the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Raiders on Friday, Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m.
“It sounds like we’ll be facing a very good quarterback – this quarterback was good, but this Bonnyville dude’s even better – and then the real season starts,” said Ross.
“All this heartache and pounding and getting beat – hopefully it’ll be worth it for us.”