Rams prep for upcoming football season

Richard Jans of the Lacombe Rams pushes through his Lindsay Thurber Raiders opponents during high school football action last year. The Rams are back in action Sept. 1. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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After falling in the Central Alberta high school football city league final last season, the Lacombe Composite High School Rams are gearing up to charge after the championship this year.

Practices – a week-long series of two-a-day – officially kicked off Tuesday. The Rams head coach believes their strength heading into their first game Sept. 1 will be on the back end.

“We have really good linebackers and defensive backs,” said Brian Ross. “At the beginning of the season, we’re going to be leaning on our defence quite a bit. We’re going to be leaning on our three-four big guns we have offensively and hopefully make something out of that.”

Ross is the new-again head coach for the Rams, with Jason Petrie stepping away from the team.

He brings about 40 years of football experience, having been involved in the sport since he was a young kid himself. He played for five years at the junior level with Regina, as well as a five-year stint with the Central Alberta Buccaneers, not to mention various coaching gigs.

He’s no stranger to the Rams, either, having served as head coach of the team from 2000-2011, and as offensive coordinators for the past two years.

With Jason Petrie stepping away from the team as head coach, Ross is now left to usher the team towards the championship that has evaded them the past few years.

“Our other strength is going to be in the young men we have returning. We have some bona fide super stars on the team that are going to be OK,” he said.

Fortunately, while last year’s team saw several skilled players graduate, including Matt Darnell, Evan Standish, Jack Bahler, Tristyn Foley and quarterback Jonathan Erickson, amongst others, they’ll have several key returnees. Richard Jans and Simon Gray will be a couple of those returning, as well as Mitch Simmons, who will take over quarterbacking duties.

While some may say he has big shoes to fill, Ross says Simmons just needs to find his own little niche to help him be successful.

“He and Johnny have very different styles as quarterbacks, so we’ll toy around with the offence,” he said. “Mitch is the real deal – he’s a quick study, he’s a good kid and he seems up for the challenge.”

Aside from a new quarterback, new rookies on the team and a new head coach, there will be a new schedule, this year, too.

The Rams’ first three games of their seven-game season will be against teams outside of their league, as some of the Tier I and Tier II coaches expressed concern over playing the same three teams over the course of the season. Teams decided to pare down their schedules to fewer regular season games, and fill the rest with out-of-league games.

“We’ll be more developed at that time and a different team than people will see Sept. 1,” he said. “It’ll be cool.”

Ultimately, regardless of changes in schedules or the roster, however, they want to reach that final game once more, this time to take the trophy home.

“I would be selling myself, selling the kids short, if I didn’t think our goal was a league championship and a provincial championship,” said Ross. “Is that going to happen? Who knows.”

Football fans will be able to figure that out for themselves – or try to – over the course of the season.

Schedule is as follows:

  • 1 vs. Medicine Hat
    2 p.m. at MEGlobal Field
  • 7 vs. Holy Rosary
    4 p.m. at MEGlobal Field
  • 14 at Bonnyville at 5 p.m.
  • 21 at Lindsay Thurber
    4:30 p.m. at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School
  • 28 vs. Notre Dame
    4 p.m. MEGlobal Field
  • 12 at Hunting Hills
    4 p.m. at Hunting Hills High School
  • Oct. 19 at Lindsay Thurber
    7:30 p.m. at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School