The Notre Dame High School Cougars served notice that they may be the team to beat in the Central Alberta High School Football League this season after a dominating performance last Friday night.
Veteran running backs Justin Fedun and Johannes Smith led the charge for the Cougars as they blanked the defending champion Hunting Hills High School Lightning 40-0 under the bright lights at MEGlobal Athletic Park in Lacombe.
“I was a little worried about our O-line — how well they were going to perform. We have the backs, we’ve got Fedun and Johannes and Payton (Lagrange), we’re really deep there. I’m quite happy with the way the offense played,” said Cougars’ Assistant Coach Gary Lagrange after the game.
Although Fedun and Smith turned out to be the stars of the game, putting up two touchdowns apiece and 140 yards and 137 yards rushing respectively, they weren’t the only keys to the Cougars’ success on the field.
Returning quarterback Devin Desormeau was outstanding under centre, completing eight of his 13 attempted passes for 166 yards in the air with one touchdown and just a single interception.
“We wanted to throw the ball a little bit today and show what Devin can do as a quarterback,” said Lagrange, adding the defense also played a big role in the victory.
“Defensively, we’re strong. On paper we knew we were strong. They’re a good team, they’re well coached. We had some bad breaks where we kind of missed a few opportunities in the first half. That’s just little timing things and guys had the pre-game jitters. It’s been a long time coming for us.”
The Notre Dame defense was about as solid as they come, as they stopped everything the Lighting play callers threw at them. By the end of the game, the Cougars defense had allowed just 27 yards of offense in the air and 73 on the ground. They also stopped the HHHS running backs at or before the line of scrimmage four times to secure the shutout.
“We were only getting a couple of yards on first and 10, we couldn’t establish our run and we got out-matched at the line of scrimmage. We just couldn’t get any rhythm on offense,” said Hunting Hills’ Head Coach Kyle Sedgwick of the Cougars’ defense. He added that mistakes and turnovers were killer for his team.
“Bad snaps, you know, they take a penalty and they kick off from the 20 and we fumble it. They wanted it more. It’s a veteran team. These guys have a lot of football experience.”
The devastating loss was an eye-opener for the Lightning, who were fresh off of a close win over the Lacombe Rams last week.
“That’s the best thing that could happen to us. I’m sorry to say but our program needs that. It’s not even waking our players up — our players play hard all the time. They compete hard, they prepare hard. But you know what? I think more than anything it’s going to wake our coaches up. We need to get our crap together and we need to represent what we’ve built here. Hats off to Notre Dame, they played extremely hard. They deserved it,” Sedgwick said.
It was a sweet victory for the Notre Dame team, who last season lost in the league final to Hunting Hills, but Lagrange said the team still has lots of room for improvement.
“There were a few mistakes and turnovers that we thought would cost us. We left probably 20 points in that first half that we felt we should have had. A team like that can come back. We left that back door open in the first half.”
Still, it was a big win that means the Cougars improve to a perfect 2-0 record on the season heading into their first bye week while the Lightning fall to a 1-1 record.
Meanwhile, in the afternoon game in Lacombe, the Lindsay Thurber Raiders suffered a 53-7 trouncing at the hands of the Lacombe Rams.