By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
Halfway through Friday’s game against Saskatoon’s St. Joseph High School, the Raymond Comets were faced with the real possibility of an 0-3 start to the season.
The Saskatchewan school led 17-8 after two quarters, as the Comets came out flat.
“We felt in the first half our players were on the field but not in the game,” said Raymond assistant coach Matt Baines. “We felt that we weren’t winning the one-on-one battles and really putting our best foot forward. We had a pretty spirited discussion with the boys at half time and reminded them of what they need to go out and do in the second half.”
Whatever was said at the break, it worked, as Raymond piled up the points to run away with a 47-24 win.
“All the credit goes to the players for waking up and playing to their potential,” said Baines of the second-half surge. “We just knew that if we started playing with more urgency that we would be OK. I think we scored on pretty much every possession we had in the second half.”
But as easy as the Comets made it look in the second half, St. Joseph clamped down on the Comets in the first and second quarters.
“I think they were just more physical than we were really,” said Baines. “They didn’t do anything we weren’t expecting. I think they just wanted it more than we did, which is really tough to say as a coach. When you watched everything happening, you just knew that once we start getting after that we would be OK.”
The comeback victory could be a huge turning point for a team that suffered a close loss in the opener, and then came up against a large Idaho school in game two.
“In our first game against Ainlay we had chances to win that game,” said Baines. “In our second game against Lake City we had chances to win that game. It was great to be able to finally take advantage of those chances and step up and come from behind and win the game.”
Raymond did think out of the box for a game against a non-traditional opponent from Saskatchewan in game three. It was a team Baines added the coaching staff did not have much intel on.
“We really didn’t know much about them going in,” he said. “We had a common opponent a few years back and they thought we should set up a game.”
The Comets now prepare for Friday’s game in Calgary against Ernest Manning, the No. 7 ranked Tier 1 team in Alberta.
“We expect them to be a solid team,” said Baines. “We will go in with all we’ve got and do everything we can to win. We always seem to come up against teams bigger than us. I expect this to be no different.”
Raymond, with games against three tough teams to open 2022, have dealt with a few injuries in the season’s first month. That situation began to improve a bit against Saskatoon.
“We had a couple of linemen that couldn’t play in our Idaho game that were back so that helped for sure,” said Baines, who added the team’s star running back is also nearing a return. “(Brock) Barnett is a game-by-game decision. We don’t expect him to play this game against Ernest Manning.”