Bulldogs maul Saints
Only undefeated team in metro Edmonton high school junior football
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 06, 2012 06:00 am
Johnny Bright Park – The Bellerose Bulldogs are leading the pack in pursuit of their first junior football championship in school history.
The Bulldogs are 3-0 with four games remaining until the Nov. 1 premier semifinals.
The last time the Bulldogs reached the final was 2005.
“We knew coming into the season we had a real chance at winning it and now we’re thinking of it even more,” said Seth Waselenchuk, a Grade 10 standout at slotback, safety and kick returner.
The Bulldogs flirted with the date with destiny the last two years, but were eliminated by the Bev Facey Falcons both times in the semifinals. The loss two years ago ended an undefeated season. Last year the Bulldogs finished 2-2.
“This team is more of a team than last year. We’re working together more as a unit,” said Ben MacKay, a Grade 11 stalwart at fullback and defensive tackle.
A bulging 54-man roster consists of players from the Bellerose and Sturgeon high schools.
“We have a lot of good players who came up from bantam and we’ve got some good returners who are solid players and some of them chose not to play senior this year,” said Waselenchuk, a bantam St. Albert Fury graduate. “We also have a lot of guys who haven’t played football before and even though they maybe don’t know exactly what to do they’ll go out there and find someone to hit and make plays for us, like those big linemen. They make a lot of plays for us.”
The Bulldogs established themselves as the team to beat in Tuesday’s 39-13 rout of the St. Joseph Saints (3-1).
“This is a huge win. We beat the only other undefeated team and it puts us on top of the division,” Waselenchuk said.
The Bulldogs were unstoppable in the first half while racking up 30 points.
“We’ve been practising all week for this game and we came out really hard. We really wanted to win,” MacKay said. “Our offence executed very well and our defence stopped them really fast right from the beginning because we knew what they were going to run.”
The Bulldogs drove the opening kickoff 107 yards, capped off by quarterback Matt Short’s 63-yard touchdown strike to a wide-open Waselenchuk behind coverage 3:05 into the game.
After the ensuing kickoff, Waselenchuk picked off a pass in front of the Bellerose bench at the Saints’ 45. A strong running attack put the Bulldogs in position for Zac Moss to kick a 22-yard field goal.
Before the quarter ended, a penalty wiped out a Saints’ TD and Short was picked off.
Early in the second quarter, and the Bulldogs up 9-0, Waselenchuk zigzagged his way to the Saints’ 20 on a long punt return. A few plays later, Andrew Johnson ran into the endzone from the 10.
With less than two minutes remaining, Waselenchuk’s 28-yard gain to the two set up MacKay’s TD burst.
MacKay, the biggest Bulldog on the field, terrorized the Saints with pulverizing romps with the ball and devastating tackles on defence.
“It was a good game. I had fun,” said MacKay, 16. “It’s just a good feeling to stay undefeated.”
Before the half ended, the teams traded turnovers before Waselenchuk recovered a fumble deep in Saints’ territory with 16 seconds to go. After a run by Dylan Shorten to the six, Waselenchuk scored his second TD of the game.
Johnson’s 11-yard major in the third quarter and a 15-yard Moss field goal in the fourth quarter rounded out the Bellerose scoring.
It was 36-0 when the Saints broke the shutout with a TD. They ended the game with a converted major.
Thirty-nine points was the largest offensive explosion by the Bulldogs this season.
“It all started with good play calling. There was a lot of smart plays and everyone was executing right off the back. Everyone was moving,” said Waselenchuk.
The five-foot-five ball of fire ranks with Grade 12 slotback Brendan Thera-Plamondon of the St. Albert High Skyhawks and Grade 11 quarterback Cory Knott of the Paul Kane Blues as the fastest high school football players in St. Albert this year.
Waselenchuk, 15, was also brought up by the senior team for the 10th annual Battle of St. Albert against the Skyhawks and was one of the better Bulldogs in the 14-13 loss on Sept. 20.
“I just do what I can,” said the candidate for the Grant Yuzyk Award as the most outstanding junior in the metro league.
The next game for the Bulldogs is Tuesday against Bev Facey (1-2-1) at 7:30 p.m. at Riel Recreation Park.