By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
The Raymond Comets hit the field Friday for another season.
Raymond takes Edmonton’s Harry Ainlay Titans to kick off the football team’s 2017 schedule, which includes a number of tough matchups.
Friday’s 8 p.m. contest in Raymond against the Titans will pit the Comets against an Edmonton team that was ranked No. 4 in the Tier 1 rankings to end the 2016 regular season. Ainlay would go on to drop the north regional semifinal by a score of 27-8 to the Notre Dame Cougars.
“They will be well coached and will have speed,” said Raymond coach Darryl Salmon, who added Ainlay will pose a challenge for his Comets squad. “They will be a good test for us to start our season.”
The battle of Alberta powerhouses on Friday will be just the beginning of a season highlighted by a couple of games against American opponents.
“We go to Logan, Utah, the week after Ainlay, and that will be a fun experience with the kids,” said Salmon, as the Comets will take on the Ridgeline High School Riverhawks in a game at Merlin Olson Field at Maverik Stadium.
After a bye week on Sept. 8, Raymond will host Sandpoint, Idaho, for a 5 p.m. game on Sept. 15. After that, the Comets will host a string of local opponents, including Winston Churchill, Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, and Cardston, before an Oct. 14 game against Foothills. Catholic Central is on the schedule for Oct. 20, before playoffs begin with a Nov. 2 contest against LCI.
Five of Raymond’s eight regular-season games will be played at home, which will help showcase a deep group of experienced players.
“We have 20 returning players this year,” said Salmon. “Garrett Hasegawa, Parker Graves, and Justin Martin will provide veteran leadership for our team this year.”
Tanner Salmon will start at quarterback for a Raymond team that came one game short of making the Tier 1 provincial final last year. The Comets defeated Henry Wise Wood 26-16 in the south regional semifinal, before the team dropped a 29-18 game to the St. Francis Browns in the provincial semifinal. The Browns went on to win the provincial final over the Bev Facey Falcons.
“We had a good run to the semifinal last year, and so we hope it will help our kids feel how close they were to finishing their goal of winning,” said Salmon. “We will have a lot of experience on defense.”
The offence, however, will be young this season, according to Salmon, who added despite that fact, the team is gearing up for what should be another exciting year of Comets football.
“Our kids work hard and they love to play football. They are a good group of kids and it should be fun season.”