By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
Tie games are certainly a rarity in the football world.
For the Raymond Comets, however, Friday’s game against Calgary’s Ernest Manning High School ended in a 34-34 draw, as the Alberta Tier 1 teams went back and forth in a tight affair.
The last two quarters were particularly explosive, as the teams traded scores before both squads settled for the unique result.
“The second half was where much of the scoring was,” said Comets assistant coach Matt Baines. “We had a couple of big stops on defence that got us the ball back and enabled us to take the lead.”
Baines added the game came right down to the wire, as Ernest Manning made a last-second push to knot the score at 34.
“The biggest play was probably them scoring on the last play of the game to tie it up,” he said.
The tie score was just one aspect of a game that featured its fair share of oddities.
“The whole game had some unexpected things,” said Baines. “They ran the clock the entire game, so it felt like about half of a game by the end.”
And even as time expired, Raymond’s players and coach were expecting to play a little extra football. That turned out not to be case, as the Comets returned home with a less-than-satisfied feeling.
“We were fully expecting overtime,” said Baines. “We were surprised not to get it. A tie feels like a loss. Anything but a win feels like a loss for sure.”
A tie was not what the Comets hoped for with a visit to Calgary, but Baines added Raymond’s offence did produce some positive results.
“Talan Ralph had an outstanding game at quarterback. Our receivers played well and our offensive line did a great job blocking.”
Raymond now looks ahead to a huge game Thursday night in Lethbridge against the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams. LCI enters the game ranked No. 3 in Tier 1, as Raymond carries the No. 6 ranking.
“Their ranking doesn’t make the game any bigger,” said Baines. “Just playing LCI with the rivalry is big enough. We know that we don’t have any control over the rankings, so we just don’t worry too much about them.”
The coach added Raymond’s coaching staff will drive home a few simple messages this week in practice, as Baines highlighted a few of his team’s keys to victory.
“We need to play solid defence and avoid mental mistakes. I know it sounds cliche but that’s the bottom line.”
It shouldn’t be too difficult for players on either side to get up for what is always the biggest game of the season in the south. In fact, the team that keeps its composure might just have the advantage on Thursday. That is an area where Baines is confident.
“I think our team has been battle tested this season. We have played four very good teams. I think we are ready for the moment.”
A Thursday game does mean one less practice day for the Comets and Rams. By virtue of the two team’s schedules, however, Raymond may have a bit of an edge in terms of preparation.
“We played Thursday and LCI played Friday last week, so we have a bit more time to prepare than they do,” said Baines. “The game does seem to arrive a lot quicker but we will be ready.”
The Comets and Rams square off a 7 p.m. on Thursday at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.