May 25th, 2024

Rams get past the Comets in Raymond

By Dale Woodard on September 28, 2021.

The LCI Rams football team has cracked the top-3.

In a clash of the Tier I rivals, the Rams downed the Raymond Comets 28-7 in non-league play in front of a packed and noisy Comets Stadium Saturday night in Raymond.

LCI’s Blake Van Bruggen hauled in three touchdown passes as the Rams opened up a 22-7 lead at the half on their way to the win.

That puts the Rams at 4-1 on the season and bumps them from fourth to third in the Football Alberta Tier I rankings for Week 4.

The loss puts the Comets at 1-3, but they remain in the Tier I top-10 with the eighth seed.

Rams coach Patrick Leahy welcomed the chance to fire up the longtime rivalry between the two schools after the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled last season.

“In my opinion, it’s the best rivalry in the province,” he said. “Raymond is always extremely well-coached and I have a lot of respect for those guys. They have some fantastic athletes.”

Up 2-0 early, the Rams got some ideal field position on the Raymond five-yard line after a Comets bad snap and went up 9-0 when quarterback Crew Hirsche aired out his first TD strike to Van Bruggen.

The Comets responded in the second quarter when quarterback Brock Barnett hit Houston Ralph on a third-and-five as Ralph made a leaping grab to keep the drive going.

Raymond went right back to the air and Barnett found Everson Harker in the end zone to make it 9-7 with 8:53 left in the half.

But with a little over five minutes to go in the half, Hirsche found Van Bruggen for two more TD strikes and a 22-7 lead at the half.

“The first quarter was a little bit slow for us getting going, but once we made some adjustments we saw some things we liked,” said Leahy. “Obviously, when you have a kid like Blake, he’s able to take advantage of things like that. We found a great matchup for Blake and he capitalized over and over. That’s something that speaks to his ability as a player and his resiliency.”

The Comets pressed in the third quarter as Pyken Easthope ran for a big carry that had another 15 yards added to it on a horse collar penalty to LCI.

Barnett ran for another first down on a third-and-10 as the hosts drove to the LCI 11-yard-line, but the Rams defence held to keep it 22-7.

Hirsche ran for one more major with 2:21 remaining to round out the scoring.

“It’s nice to have the rivalry, I thought both teams played hard. I thought it was a lot of fun to have a lot of people out here and a good crowd,” said Comets defensive coordinator Dale Stevenson. “LCI was the better team. They were more physical. They out-coached us and they out-played us. They deserved it.”

The Comets host Calgary St. Francis Saturday.

“We’ll take what we can and move forward,” said Stevenson. “We told the kids ‘Lick your wounds this week and then it’s on to a new game on Monday.’ We had chances to get in the game, but we shot ourselves in the foot with undisciplined penalties and against a good team that is going to make you lose.”

Not playing in the Southern Alberta High School Football League this season, the Comets have had a schedule of tough opponents, including the Tier I-leading Edmonton Harry Ainlay Titans (5-0) and second-ranked Calgary Notre Dame.

“We’re a young team and we’re learning,” said Stevenson. “We have a lot of Grade 10s and Grade 11s, but that’s not an excuse. We need to coach them up better and get them more prepared.”

Barnett said he was enjoying the challenge of pitting himself against the top teams.

“We want to test our team. It’s been a rough spot, but we want to play the best teams,” said the Grade 11 athlete, noting the youth on this year’s roster. “We have a lot of new guys stepping into starting roles and hopefully we can get it all figured out on both sides of the ball.”

Next up for the Rams is a SAHSFL Division A tilt against the Cardston Cougars Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.

“It’s been really good. This is probably the best team I’ve ever been on,” said Van Bruggen of the season so far. “We lost to Harry Ainlay, which is tough, but I think we can come back and beat them with the way we’re playing right now and keep going and keep on our pace.”

In other high school football play last weekend, Cardston defeated the Catholic Central Cougars 48-20 in Division A play Friday night at the U of L Stadium to improve to 2-2.

Cardston’s win also moves them up to third from fourth in the Tier II rankings, while Catholic Central – also 2-2 – is ranked eighth.

In non-league play Friday night, Stettler William E Hay beat the Winston Churchill Bulldogs 73-6.

The Taber W.R. Myers Rebels lost a close 25-22 decision to Brooks Friday night to drop from second to fourth in Tier IV at 1-2.

The Claresholm Willow Creek Cobras (0-3) were off last weekend and are seeded ninth in Tier IV.

Prior to Cardston and LCI Friday night, the Chinook Coyotes and Catholic Central square off at 5 p.m. at the U of L Stadium.

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