By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
A tough test awaits the Raymond Comets, as the 2019 high school football season kicks off Friday.
Comet Stadium will be the scene as the Harry Ainlay Titans head south for 7:30 p.m. contest under the lights in Raymond.
“Every year for the last four or five years, Ainlay seems to be in the provincial semi-final or the final,” said Comets assistant coach Matt Baines. “We expect them to be strong. They have a solid head coach leading the program, so we expect them to be ready.”
Baines added his defence will have to be sharp, particularly against the Edmonton school’s passing attack. However, that is just one phase of the Titans attack the Comets will have to prepare for.
“We know their quarterback is a senior and has been their starter since Grade 10, so we expect him to be tough to stop. They always seem to have speed and size, so we will need to be ready for a physical and a fast game.”
The Comets hit the practice field on Aug. 15, and once again, the Raymond high school program looks to have strong numbers for the 2019 season.
“We will likely have around 35 kids,” said Baines, who added it will be all hands on deck from the first practice of the year right through the entire season. “We’ve had an understanding going into every season for all the players to be there day one. I don’t expect much fluctuation in numbers between first day of football and first day of school.”
As the team wraps up its first two weeks of summer practice, Baines added the goals for the pre-season workouts are clear.
“Mainly to get loose and warmed up and get our feet back under us,” said the coach, who added the staff got a good idea of where kids were after the first two practices. “Get the blood pumping and get them sweating for sure. We will do fitness and strength testing to see how they compare with the testing we did at our spring camp.”
The hope is there is some progression from the spring to summer.
“We do provide the players with a fitness program for the entire off season,” said Baines. “We expect them to be in shape and stronger than they were in June. Obviously, to get into game shape, it will take a bit of time at practice but we expect the players to be ready for that.”
The Aug. 23 game is a bit earlier than usual for Raymond’s first game of the season, according to Baines, who added a late-summer game is something the program has attempted before.
“Most years, we have two weeks before our first game. However, we have had games after only one week before. We are excited to get going and get an early game in for sure.”
Raymond has been hitting the field once a day, as Baines added the team understands players also have other commitments as summer draws to a close.
“We have players that work during the summer, so we like to respect that and we will practice in the evenings. We will have on-field work as well as film study every day.”