Raiders rebound from season opening loss with hard fought victory
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:53 am
The Airdrie Raiders bounced back from a slow start to earn its first win of the 2014 Calgary Midget Football League (CMFL) season on April 11, as it edged out the Calgary Hilltoppers by a score of 16-13 at Shouldice Park in Calgary.
“It’s great to get that win, as it gets that monkey off our back,” Raiders Head Coach Steve Kemp said. “We started off a little bit tighter than we wanted it to be, but in the second half, we really came alive and took it to them.”
“This game was super important for us, especially when it comes to our confidence,” Raiders quarterback Duncan Little added. “Getting this win makes us even more fired up heading into our next game, and the rest of the season.”
After falling behind 10-0 in the first half, a 60-yard touchdown by running back Jordan Baldwin late in the second half proved to be the extra bit of momentum the Raiders needed.
From that point on, the Raiders offence was able to move the ball effectively down the field, and its defence was shutting down any major advances the Hilltoppers attempted.
“In the first half, our offence was really sloppy, and I actually went offside a couple of times,” Raiders slotback Owen Wegner said. “Once our offensive line buckled down though, that’s what allowed us to get things going.”
“I think we played well defensively throughout the game,” defensive back Spencer Timmins added. “But once our offence got rolling, everyone was motivated to play even better.”
The Raiders were finally able to move out in front early in the fourth quarter, when Little hooked up with Wegner for a 20-yard touchdown pass to give the team a lead they would never relinquish.
“On that play, our other slotback (Brayden Wardell) took their safety away from me, which allowed me to beat one of their defensive backs as we raced up the field,” Wegner said.
“I turned around, and I saw that Duncan was throwing the ball right to me in the open space,” he added. “All I had to do was just catch it.”
With the team now in the lead, the Raiders defence stood tall over the final 10 minutes of the game, as it shut down the Hilltoppers offence.
“Our defence is known for its speed, and they just fly around there to put the pressure on everyone,” Kemp said.
“As a result of that, it makes it harder for the other team to execute their plays.”
As the Raiders prepare for a game against the Central Alberta Prairie Fire at Shouldice Park on April 17 at 7:30 p.m., Coach Kemp says the biggest thing that they need to improve on is its slow starts.
“That’s something we have worked on in practice,” Kemp explained. “We have put them in scenarios right off the bat, whether that’s making the defence practice their interceptions or putting the entire team on the goal line to run plays.”
“We expected to come out a lot stronger than we did, and even though we won, it’s still disappointing that we didn’t do that,” Wegner added. “That is something we will have to do better at this week.”