On Monday Sept. 26th, the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and the Raiders football program took a huge blow.
The head coach of the undefeated Bantam team, Blair Murray, died at his home in Calgary. He had suffered a heart attack one week earlier. Mr. Murray was also in charge of the Work Experience Program at the school, which is said to put him in direct contact with approximately 700 students.
With his memorial held on Sept. 30, the Stettler Cougars and the Senior Raiders agreed to move their scheduled game to Oct. 3.
And with emotions running high the Raiders entered the game.
Head Coach of the Senior Raiders team, David Smith, was just trying to win the game. His pre-game speech was like many others he’s given. “You gotta get on the football field and focus on what you gotta do out there. All the turmoil, the hardship you’ve been going through for the last week, this is the chance to put it away, compartmentalize it. And just focus on what you gotta do.”
Coach Smith knew it wouldn’t be easy for his team to forget the last week. “I think that’s hard for adolescents to do, and hard for anybody to do.”
And with that, the Raiders were down 10 – 7 early in the third quarter. But the Raiders battled back, marched the ball down the field and scored a touchdown to make it 14 -10. That score would take them into the fourth quarter where they had a first down, inside their own 10-yard line. The plot thickened as the Cougars got a safety, and then on the ensuing kickoff, returned it to the house to get six more points.
Within two minutes this game went from a sure Thurber victory to a Stettler win. Stettler went for an unsuccessful two-point convert.
Fast forward to the final two minutes of the game.
Its 3rd and 8 and the Raiders bring out their punt team.
And just like in Madden, they fake the punt and throw a complete pass that has Thurber first and goal at the Cougars nine-yard line. With only a minute left, Thurber attempts their last try for a touchdown, but are stopped at the 2.
A disappointing loss for the Senior Raiders football team and their coach who simply put wanted a victory.
“It’s a lot of pressure to put on people when you don’t (win).…we wanted to play well because we always want to play well,” said Coach Smith, who probably sums up the entire school’s feelings, after the loss.
“Was it hard without Blair around? Yeah, it’s really hard.”