By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
If you Googled “Signature Win,” the first search result just might feature Raymond’s 50-0 win last Thursday over the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams.
Southern Alberta’s most important gridiron rivalry turned into an extremely one-sided affair, as the Comets scored a decisive win over a Rams team previously ranked third in the Tier 1 standings.
Raymond set the tone on the team’s second offensive drive, as Talen Ralph ran it in for 12 yards out for the early score. A two-point conversion made it 8-0, as it turned out those were the only points the Comets would need.
In the middle of second quarter, Raymond faced a had a third and 10 on the Comets 40-yard line. Again, it was Ralph who made a play and scrambled to hit Everson Harker for a 14-yard gain. Four plays later, Pyken Easthope scored on a one-yard TD run to make it 14-0 with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
Any hope LCI had for a comeback was soon extinguished, as the Rams LCI started with the ball around midfield after the kickoff. On second and 12, Bentley Francis sacked the LCI QB for an 18-yard loss to make it third and 30.
LCI punted, and Easthope rattled off a 40-yard return down to the LCI 44 yard line. Ralph went back to work at QB and hit Houston Ralph and Everson Harker on back to back 15-yard passing plays to put Raymond on the 10-yard line. Easthope ran it in to make the score 21-0 with 56 seconds left in the half.
LCI’s first play from scrimmage essentially put the game to bed for Raymond, as Houston Ralph intercepted the LCI QB for the second time in the first half and returned it all the way back to the Rams 41-yard line.
Talon Ralph then hit Houston Ralph and Everson Harker on back to back 10-yard passing plays before Talan Ralph found Luka Kauro for a 20-yard TD pass with seven seconds left in the half. The two-point convert made it 29-0 to conclude a dominant first half.
“We played with speed and intensity,” said Comets assistant coach Matt Baines. “I can’t tell you what a difference a week can make. Our defense was the most intense it had been all season. We were very focused. We won the line of scrimmage every single play. I think LCI had two first downs the entire first half.”
Raymond’s offence was also clicking in the first half, and it all started with the big guys up front.
“Our offensive line gave Talan the time he needed to find his receivers,” said Baines. “Our receivers ran great routes and made big plays. Talan’s completion percentage this season is well above 70 per cent.”
With a big lead, the challenge became keeping the intensity high for the final two quarters.
“We treated the second half as a whole new football game and challenged our team to match their offensive and defensive output of the first half,” said Baines.
With four minutes left in the third quarter, Easthope added a two-yard TD run to put the Comets up 36-0. Then, on the last play of the third quarter, Bentley Francis chipped in with a 46-yard punt return TD for a 43-0 Raymond advantage.
With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Easthope’s three-yard TD run capped off the scoring, as the lower-ranked Comets pulled off a stunning dismantling of the Rams.
“We are very pleased with the intensity and emotion our players came into this game with,” said Baines. “We have had a really tough schedule so far and for us to have a fifth tough opponent in a row and get a result like this is outstanding. LCI is a good football team – make no mistake about it. We had to be in top form on the night.”
Raymond is now preparing for a Saturday date with Cardston, set for 7 p.m. at Comet Stadium.
“The main challenge is for our players to rise up to the same intensity level as they did against LCI,” said Baines. “We respect and take all our opponents seriously. We don’t pay too much attention to how they have done against other teams. We will be there to play our best.”
Saturday’s game will represent a bit of a softer spot in the schedule, which might be just what the doctor ordered for a Raymond team that has dealt with a few injuries, including one to its star running back.
“We are a little banged up,” said Baines. “One of the biggest keys to our team, Brock Barnett, will be back sometime in the next couple of games. He is a difference maker for our team. We have a few players that are able to play through their injuries that are showing a lot of toughness.”