This has been very much a rebuilding year for the Lindsay Thurber Raiders’ senior football team, said Head Coach Devin Bennett.
“We’re starting to grow. Our Grade 10’s are starting to get used to the speed and the physicality, but we’re still not there yet. As far as physicality and just size, the guys just haven’t grown into their bodies quite yet,” Bennett said after a disappointing 48-20 loss to the Lacombe Rams at MEGlobal Athletic Park on Monday night.
After the loss, the Raiders find themselves winless with one game left in Central Alberta High School Football League regular season play, but Bennett said he has seen improvement from his young group of football players as the season has gone on.
“I see it as more of a multi-year building thing.”
The boys in red weren’t without a few positives in the loss. Grade 11 quarterback Sean Vandevlis was solid, as was Grade 11 wide receiver Maxwell Arnold.
“We’re trying to get him the ball a little bit more, at least to the outside,” said Bennett of Arnold’s play, which was exceptional considering he had been sidelined with an injury the past few weeks.
“He runs hard. We’re just trying to be creative and get him the ball and he made some great plays. He’s a skinny kid if you look at him without pads, there’s hardly anything there. But he’s got some good moves and he’s blazing fast.”
Still, a lack of depth and a few early mistakes hurt the Raiders’ chances at coming out of the matchup with an upset victory.
“Our weakness is definitely our lines. But I thought we played a lot better on the line, at least in the first half. Some of the second half we started to get some injuries and you can see that our depth isn’t great because once we have injuries it kind of crumbles a little bit in the third and fourth quarter.”
Meanwhile, in the earlier game on Monday, the Hunting Hills High School Lightning pulled off a shocking 14-9 victory over the previously-undefeated Notre Dame High School Cougars.
The last time the two teams squared off was back in the season opener in September when Notre Dame swept to a 40-0 shutout victory on the backs of their star running game.
This time, however, that changed as a couple of missed snaps and missed reads in the first half proved costly for the Notre Dame lineup.
Running backs Johannes Smith and Dustin Fedun were limited on the ground to 66 and 77 yards respectively as Hunting handed Notre Dame their first defeat of the season in an important matchup.
The win means that Notre Dame and Hunting Hills are now tied for first place in the league and puts the Cougars in a must-win situation if they wish to hold on to that coveted top spot after this coming Friday’s game against Lacombe.
All four teams are in action at MEGlobal in Lacombe this Friday during the weekly Friday night double header starting at 4:30 p.m.