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Raiders comeback bid comes up short

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2014 12:28 pm

Bryce Wachtler of the Airdrie Raiders was unable to go anywhere on his punt return attempt at Shouldice Park on May 1, as he stopped in his tracks by the Calgary Cowboys.
Bryce Wachtler of the Airdrie Raiders was unable to go anywhere on his punt return attempt at Shouldice Park on May 1, as he stopped in his tracks by the Calgary Cowboys.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Weekly

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Airdrie Raiders midget football team Head Coach Steve Kemp had conflicting emotions over his team’s 18-16 loss to the Calgary Cowboys at Shouldice Park on May 1.

On the one hand, he had just witnessed his team crawl its way back from an early deficit to have a chance of sneaking away with the Boulton Division lead in the Calgary and Area Midget Football Association (CAMFA).

However, a number of mistakes left Kemp irked as he and his team walked off the field following the close loss.

“We put ourselves in bad situations out there, especially when it came to the amount of penalties that we took and the number of turnovers that we had,” Kemp said. “We have to be smarter and not have those things happen.”

“However, the guys did battle back late and responded to get within a couple of points,” he added. “That was something that all of us on the coaching staff were happy to see.”

The Raiders comeback bid came largely through its passing game, as quarterback Duncan Little hooked up with wide receivers Bennett Thompson and Owen Wegner on second-half touchdown passes.

“The key to those plays was our team having that drive to win,” Little said. “In this league (the CAMFA), the team that is pushing the hardest is always going to be successful.”

“Even though we lost, I think we showed that we can compete with every team in the league,” he added. “Our offence can score against anyone, and I think that our defence is one of the best in the league.”

Despite his success, Little had difficulties in the second half with the Cowboys’ defence, as two of his passes were intercepted and brought a pair of promising drives to a screeching halt.

“There’s not much I can really say about that,” Little said. “I just have to put those things behind me and focus on improving to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

With the loss to the Cowboys, the Raiders record dropped to 3-2 on the season and slid into a tie for third place in the Boulton Division with the Central Alberta Prairie Fire.

The Raiders had a chance to clinch a spot in the Tier I playoffs on May 7 (after press time) in its regular season finale against the 0-5 Calgary Broncos.

If the Raiders lost that game, it would have to wait and see how the rest of the games played out to see if it will make the Tier I playoffs.

“We control our destiny at the end of the season, which is what we wanted,” Kemp said.

“Our goal was to be one of the top four teams in the division to make it into the playoffs, and we want to ride some positive momentum in order to do just that,” he added.

The Tier I playoffs are slated to get underway on May 15 at Shouldice Park in Calgary.


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