Young players stepped up to the plate as the Knights comfortably secured their spot in the Big Rock final.
Holy Trinity Academy’s defence forced turnovers all night while youngsters shone in new roles on offence as the Knights cruised to the 44-0 victory over Rundle College in the Big Rock Football Conference semifinal Friday night in Okotoks.
"I thought the guys did what they needed to do," said Knights head coach Matt Hassett. "Special teams we've got a few things to work on, I wasn't too happy with that, but for the most part it was pretty good. We've got to work on ball security, too. That's probably the biggest thing."
The Knights impressive group of linebackers — the Grade 11 trio of Grady Hale, Jack Dutton and Michael Peloso — looked extremely sharp with the latter just returning from injury.
Hale, in particular, was a menace in the open field making a number of tackles for losses to help keep Rundle off the scoreboard.
"This game against Rundle, was a bit less competition, not to be rude or anything, but it was super exciting to see all the guys meshing together and the great group of athletes we have," Hale said. "Us three Grade 11s are pretty confident on the field."
Luke Gutek opened the scoring taking a pitch in the backfield from quarterback Ben Leggett and sprinting down the sidelines for a 77-yard major just two minutes into the contest.
Grade 12 Ewan Fuhr would soon double the lead, securing a 21-yard pass from Leggett later in the first quarter for the senior receiver's first touchdown.
"We were running a fly right and that brought the safety down and out of the way for the route I was running," Fuhr said. "The safety left and I was there just wide open and Ben tossed it up.
"It was exhilarating, an awesome feeling."
HTA added two more points in the quarter with Michael Peloso's quick feet leading to a safety and defensive back Blake Craven later catching an interception to stall a Rundle drive.
Gutek would showcase his terrific speed once again the second quarter, catching a screen pass, following a plethora of blocks down field and marching into the end-zone from 60 yards out.
With the Knights resting some key offensive players, a new cast of characters made their mark, taking full advantage of their opportunities.
Peloso lined up at receiver for parts of the game and found his way into the end-zone on a 23-yard pass from Leggett late in the half.
Loghan Kenyon, the Knights' kicker, stepped into the spotlight on offence in the second-half with his first two touchdowns of the season.
The first major came on a perfectly executed 63-yard sweep play down the right sideline late in the third quarter with Fuhr and Vince Barcelos making key blocks down field.
"He had some opportunities and looked really good in practice this week," Hassett said. "That was a beautiful jet sweep that he ran, great blocking and some younger guys got in on that, or guys that haven't had a lot of time up until them.
"I think everybody got in today which was really good because that might be hard going forward, it's going to be a lot tougher next week. There are some really good teams coming up."
HTA's Sean Aitchison added another late interception for the Knights defence to set up Kenyon for another trip to the end-zone, on a nearly identical play-call, this time for 25 yards.
"It felt great just getting off kicking squad and actually getting a chance to prove myself," Kenyon said. "Today was definitely a learning experience for what we can adjust on for next game against the Comp, for what we can improve on."
The No. 1 ranked Knights tackle the Foothills Falcons in the Big Rock championship game on Oct. 25 at HTA. Kick-off is 6:30 p.m.