LETHBRIDGE - Football Alberta has released its first weekly Top-10 rankings for high school teams in the province, and the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams have cracked the top five.
Below are the full rankings:
WEEK #1 - 2017
Tier I (School Pop. 1250 +)
1) St. Francis Browns (Calgary)
2) Henry Wise Wood Warriors (Calgary)
3) Harry Ainlay Titans (Edmonton)
4) Notre Dame Pride (Calgary)
5) L.C.I. Rams (Lethbridge)
6) Bev Facey Falcons (Sherwood Park)
7) Centennial Coyotes (Calgary)
8) Bellerose Bulldogs (St. Albert)
9) Crescent Heights Cowboys (Calgary)
10) Jasper Place Rebels (Edmonton)
Last season ended on a sour note for the L.C.I. Rams, a 21-7 loss to the Raymond Comets in the regional final. But it's been a different story to this point in the pre-season, as LCI are coming off a 17-14 victory over the Okotoks Foothills Composite Falcons at Comets Stadium in Raymond on Friday night (Sept. 1).
The Rams also defeated the Salisbury Composite Senior Sabres 17-7 back on Aug. 26, and their next game is on Saturday, Sept. 16, when they host Calgary's Centennial Coyotes at 7 p.m. at the University of Lethbridge Stadium.
In a release, Football Alberta says the rebuild of the province's most successful Tier I team since the start of Provincials in 1985 is really starting to get some traction.
"A tough brand of football and a no-stars attitude has driven the Rams to a solid start with two thrilling pre-season wins over the always tough Salisbury Sabres and the #1 Tier II team Foothills Falcons. Team Alberta U-17 defensive stars Callum Hyland (DL) and Blake Gibb (DL) anchor a defense that will be very tough to score on this year. If their offense can come around they will be a tough team to contend against when it comes to Provincials."
L.C.I. Head Coach Darren Majeran says they've got a good group of kids this year, and the first two games of the season provided good experiences.
"We played two really good teams and eked out victories in both. The positive is we're 2-0, but we're splitting hairs between being 0-2 so we're not crowning ourselves just yet because we have a long way to go," said Majeran.
The Rams will be relying on their defence to lead them this season according to Majeran, who believes they've got some really good defensive lineman and a strong secondary to go along with a good, but inexperienced group of linebackers.
"So far our defence has only given up two touchdowns in two games against quality football teams. I definitely believe our defence is going to lead our football team this year," he concluded.
If you ask any football coach if they'd like to have both sides of the ball be strong, they'd say of course. Majeran says so far their offence has failed to maintain drives, but scored 17 points in both games.
"Definitely looking to improve, but we have offensive weapons on our team and we're not panicking yet. We know we can put up points, so we're just waiting until we get our systems down to start moving the ball the way we'd like too," said Majeran, adding he's confident the offense will be strong by the end of the year.
In this age of non-stop sports highlights, Majeran says offence is flashy but defence gets the job done.
"I just really like the idea of being led by a defence because it gives your team an attitude, I like the blue collar mentality of it all," said Majeran.
Despite the regular season not starting until Friday, Sept. 29 against the Raymond Comets at the U of L, Majeran says the minute they sign up to play against anyone they're playing to win.
"Obviously we want to peak at the right time, but I don't look at games in late August or early September any different than I do our own league games. In fact, most of the games we play early in the season are against other teams in Tier I so they're actually a little more significant than a lot of our league games," Majeran said.
The Comets weren't ranked in the initial Top-10, but the team from the town of just over 3,700 people has a track record for dominance in the Southern Alberta League and Majeran doesn't put much stock into them not being ranked.
"I always find it kind of funny, they put us top five and hey that's nice and everything, but I don't know how much that matters at the end of the day because it's just somebodies opinion. I know that Raymond by the end of the year is going to be a very strong team, and we're going to be lucky to put together two good games against them to win. They are not weak this year, and I expect the same no quit Raymond football team to show up against us when we play them," Majeran said, adding his guys always get jacked up to play the Comets, and doesn't expect that to be any different this season.
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