Thurber Raiders plunder semifinal victory from Lacombe Rams

Lacombe Composite High School Rams players, including Simon Gray, #3, who will graduate this year, comfort each other following their 20-10 loss at the hands of the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Raiders opponent during high school football semifinal football action at Great Chief Park in Red Deer Friday night. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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A late Lindsay Thurber Raiders touchdown in the fourth quarter was the dagger that ended the Lacombe Rams season.

The Rams had been on the offence, mere yards from scoring a touchdown that would’ve put them ahead of their opponents in the Central Alberta High School Football League semifinal at Great Chief Park in Red Deer.

With just 1:14 left to go, however, the Rams lost possession, and watched Raider Kaidyn Puttick sneak through their defence for an over 60-yard touchdown which put his team up 20-10 over the Rams with the conversion.

While the Rams weren’t able to recover, Head Coach Brian Ross said he was pleased with his team’s effort.

“We played probably as good of a football game as we played all year and just came up a little short against a very good team,” he said.

“I like the passion they played with – they were nose-to-nose with the top offensive team in the league for three quarters of a game. They just scored on a long touchdown at the end. It was a good game. The kids never gave up.”

Turner Douglas of the Lacombe Composite High School Rams is hauled down by his Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School opponent during fourth quarter high school football semifinal football action at Great Chief Park in Red Deer Friday night. The Rams lost to the Raiders 20-10. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

The Rams came out of the gate the way they wanted to. Richard Jans landed a touchdown early after forcing a Raiders turnover. An opposing field goal at the end of the opening frame, however, would narrow the Rams lead to 7-3.

They had their opportunities to increase their lead in the second, but failed to capitalize. Josh Campbell then put the Raiders ahead with a touchdown, but the Rams’ Simon Gray responded with a late field goal of his own to tie the game 10-10 at the half.

That score would remain heading into the fourth and final quarter, where Puttick’s touchdown would ultimately win the game for the Rams.

The difference in the fourth, Ross said, was his team’s energy levels.

“Defensively, we’re the top defence around, in my opinion. Guys just got a little tired at the end of the fourth quarter – some of those guys were pretty gassed,” he said.

“I think our weaknesses were pretty tremendous considering where we started at the beginning of the year. Line wise, we really had a hard time, but we’ll be better next year.”

Tyson Welch, #3, of the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Raiders hugs the Lacombe Rams’ Simon Gray following the final buzzer of the high school football semifinals which saw the Rams fall 20-10 to their Raiders opponents. Gray is one of a number of graduating players on the team. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

As with any high school program, however, the team will see a plethora of key veteran players graduate this year, including Richard Jans, Simon Gray, Turner Douglas, Dawson Gouda, Ezra West, Ryker Lunn, and Andrei Paunescu.

While it’s the end of their high school football career, it likely won’t be the last time some of them take to the field.

“I would be stunned if Richard didn’t end up in a CIS program. I’d be stunned if the rest of them didn’t end up at a junior program somewhere in Canada. They’re all talented enough, I think, that they could play another five years of football if they choose to and I hope they do,” said Ross.

“They’ll leave some tough shoes to fill, but you have to make due. Hopefully we have some kids that come up from the Bantams that can do that.”

The Raiders will now go up against the Hunting Hills Lightning after defeating the Notre Dame Cougars 38-7 to book their ticket to the final, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Great Chief Park in Red Deer.