By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
The season is over for the Raymond Comets after a 13-8 loss Wednesday night at home to the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams.
A season defined by injuries to key players continued Wednesday night in Raymond, as the Comets lost starting quarterback Ty Mazutinec on the first play of the second half.
“In 12 years of coaching, I’ve never seen injuries steal a season from a team,” said Comets defensive co-ordinator, Matt Baines, whose team was already without a number of starters heading into Wednesday’s contest.
Raymond was without Drake Still, last year’s league most valuable player, who suffered a broken collarbone in September. Boston Harker was out of the lineup with a broken leg, while Garrett Stock, one of the league’s top two-way linemen, also missed most of the season with a dislocated shoulder. Ethan Anderson, one of top running backs in the league, also missed the final four games of the year.
“Overall, we are so proud of our players and the way they have represented themselves, our team, their families, our school and our community,” said Baines. “We have a lot of returning starters next season. We are excited for the opportunity to come back and compete again.”
Raymond’s complete level was certainly evident early Wednesday night, as the Comets opened the scoring five minutes into game with a Mazutinec 9-yard touchdown pass to Payson Hill, to put Raymond up 7-0.
Chase Heggie missed a 37 yard FG with seven minutes left in second quarter, as the single point put the Comets up 8-0.
LCI responded with an eight-yard touchdown run with four minutes left in second quarter, as a missed extra point made the score 8-6 Comets.
After a scoreless third quarter, LCI scored a major with four minutes left in the game to go up 13-8, as Raymond’s makeshift offence could not generate a lot of momentum in the final three quarters.
“Without a quarterback, your team is extremely limited,” said Baines. “We created a new offense during timeout after Ty got hurt and Brady Baines went in at wildcat quarterback, and we just tried to run the ball the entire second, third and fourth quarter. He threw about eight passes and completed five. Basically, we had about seven plays we could try and run to make something happen.”
Raymond’s backup quarterback was also injured, which put the Comets in a difficult situation.
“So, playing the LCI game without five of our 12 starters on both sides of the ball, and those five players are five of our top six players we have on the whole team – it’s devastating.”
When Raymond’s starting quarterback was in the huddle, Raymond looked to be in control early, however, as the Comets offence looked up to the task.
“With Ty in the game, we moved the ball easily,” said Baines. “We felt very confident in our ability to attack and to score.”
The coach added his team’s ability to stretch the field and attack the Rams was severely hampered when Mazutinec went down.
“As I mentioned, not having your QB or your backup QB available really hurts you offensively. We were proud of the boys who stepped up and did their best. We had a few mistakes here and there that if we eliminated, the outcome could have been different.”
Raymond’s defence limited LCI to two touchdowns, as Baines added he was proud of the effort put forth on that side of the ball.
“Having five starters out on defense changes everything,” he said. “We held them to 13 points. Our defense did everything we could possibly do to stop them. We also had a few chances to make big plays on defense but missed those opportunities.”