Two games into the 2019 season, the Chestermere Lakers football team has already experienced the highs and lows of competition.
The Lakers kicked off the campaign Aug. 30, suffering a 78-0 beat-down at the hands of the Cochrane Cobras. But the team rallied back Sept. 6 to record a huge shutout of its own – a 40-0 victory over the Bow Valley Bobcats – in its first home game of 2019.
“I’m happy with our ability to compete,” said head coach Scott Ledieu. “Obviously, we got kicked around a bit [against Cochrane], but it was nice to rebound today.
“After a game like that, you really struggle the next week, but we had three good practices and we were ready to go here.”
Second game of the evening is between the Chestermere Lakers and the Bow Valley Bobcats. 8-0 for the Lakers with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter pic.twitter.com/vNiiYYDEMD— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) September 7, 2019
Dylan Lepka, a senior lineman and centre, said it felt great to earn the team’s first win of the season. His defence kept the Bobcats from coming within scoring range throughout the contest.
“We had good communication, good participation on the sidelines and the field,” he said. “We just played well together.”
Chestermere had a rough go of it in 2018, as the team won just a single game in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA). Considering the graduation of key players like Dakota Konschuh and Roy Outh, and with a roster that includes just nine seniors and 18 sophomores, it seemed the rebuild was going to be tough.
But a new crop of players is ready to take up the mantle.
“We definitely can compete to that level,” Lepka said. “We did great last year, although we didn’t get many wins. I think we can definitely pick up the level of our intensity.”
Because last year's quarterback Ethan Hiebert is not playing for the Lakers, Grade-11 Logan Bennett appears to have locked down the role of starting QB, and he showed plenty of poise against Bow Valley. Bennett also scored the Lakers’ second touchdown of the game, pushing the ball into the end zone on a first-and-goal in the second quarter.
“[Bennett] is a multi-sport athlete, here – a great basketball player, as well,” Ledieu said. “He really stepped up last year and had to play a lot as a Grade 10. It really set him up for a leadership role this year.”
Bennett will have plenty of talented teammates to aim for, including senior receivers Nathan Porterfield and Zain Baig, who each scored touchdowns against the Bobcats.
18-0 for the Chestermere Lakers over the Bow Valley Bobcats with a minute left in the first half. Lakers controlling the game so far. pic.twitter.com/PWTqYZnIZy— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) September 7, 2019
“[They both] have come a long way,” Ledieu said. “We got them back this week. They were hurt for most of camp and into last week, so didn’t play [against Cochrane]. It was nice to get them back into our offence.”
In the running back position, the Lakers will rely more on youth. That was evident against Bow Valley, as sophomores Braidon Risdon and Tyson Kolesar-Lefaut took hand-offs from Bennett to score touchdowns.
“They are different types of player – [Kolesar-Lefaut] runs extremely hard and [Risdon] is a little shiftier, but they’re both really talented in Grade 10,” Ledieu said. “Getting to build with them is going to be awesome.”
The Lakers’ third game of the season was against the Bert Church Chargers Sept. 13 (after press time). The team will be back at Utley Field Sept. 20 to face the Springbank Phoenix – last year’s runner-up in the RVSA.
Following that, the Lakers will be on the road until Oct. 10, when the team returns home to face the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers in its final fixture of the regular season.
“Obviously, there are some things we’re going to have to clean up, and we’re going to have some tough competition,” Ledieu said. “Our league is pretty strong. There were some big scores this week, but it’s a pretty tight league when it comes down to playoff time.”