Bulldogs tackle first place
Carr conference showdown Thursday against Bev Facey Falcons in metro Edmonton high school football
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012 03:15 pm
If the Bellerose Bulldogs want to be the top dawgs in high school football, they have to upset the powerhouse Bev Facey Falcons with first place on the line Thursday.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Strathcona Athletic Park. Admission is $5.
“It’s a big game. Obviously we’re looking for a championship so we have to get through Bev Facey to do that,” said Grade 12 linebacker Ryan Shorten.
Facey is 6-0 and Bellerose is 5-1 in the metro Edmonton league’s Carr conference with two games remaining until the Oct. 30 semifinals.
“We want to finish in first place and to do that we need to beat Bev Facey so it’s a big game for us,” said Grade 11 lineman Jacob Neuls. “We’re really looking forward to play probably the best team we’ve played so far this season.”
Facey’s average margin of victory in league play is 47.6 points. The closest win was 27-1 over the Salisbury Sabres (3-3) last week.
“They’re a good football team and we need to do our best to make sure we can beat them,” Shorten said. “The first thing we have to do is to mentally prepare ourselves. We definitely have to go into the game thinking we can beat them and it can be done.”
Bellerose is a significant underdog against the defending Carr champions.
“That's a fine situation to be in as long as we believe in ourselves and our abilities. Facey is a strong team but if we play smart and execute our game plan, we will have success,” said head coach Chad Hill. “We have worked hard to put ourselves into a good situation in regards to the standings. From here on out this season, it’s going to be top level competition. We have to elevate our game and play with focus and intensity. We need to dictate the pace of the game against Facey. Once they get teams on their heels, they are very good at knocking them out. They know how to finish, as the scores in their games thus far have indicated.”
In the Football Alberta Tier 1 provincial rankings, Facey is third and Bellerose is No. 8 for the second week in a row. It’s the third straight week for the Bulldogs in the rankings and the first time since 1999 they cracked the top 10.
“Chad tries to get us not to pay attention to those sort of things and right now. We’re just trying to focus on Bev Facey and nothing else,” Neuls said.
Bellerose is enjoying one its the best seasons in recent years but Neuls believes the team still hasn’t lived up to its own expectations.
“We played a really good game against Sal (27-7 win on Oct. 4) but we feel like we could’ve played better and we will need to for us to beat Bev Facey,” said the two-way offensive guard and defensive tackle.
Last week Bellerose went through the motions in defeating the winless Archbishop Jordan Scots 36-7 at Riel Recreation Park.
“We definitely could’ve played a lot better than we did. The score was obviously in our favour but it could’ve been a lot better for us,” Shorten said.
Hill was hot under the collar after the game despite the win.
“Overall, it was probably one of the worst, if not the sloppiest game we've played all year,” he said. “I always say that we must prepare to win. Clearly, our preparation was not what it needed to be. We need to improve several areas of our game in order to compete with Bev Facey. First place is on the line and we didn't play like a first place team against ABJ. We need to play with the focus, intensity and execution that we showed against Sal. If we do that, we will have success.”
Total yards were 286 for Bellerose and 136 for the Scots. The Scots’ touchdown was a 47-yard pass completion to a streaking receiver behind coverage in the second quarter. The Scots completed four passes for 71 yards and generated 65 rushing yards on 24 carries.
A ground-heavy attack was highlighted by Ben Graunke’s 171 yards on 16 carries for TDs of one yard in the first quarter and 53 yards in the second quarter while surpassing 100 yards in the first half.
The Grade 12 tailback is second in rushing yards with 919 on a league-high 109 carries. Bryson Dobush of Facey is the top rusher with 997 yards on 75 carries for 18 TDs, eight more than Graunke’s total.
Defensive back Foster Rae’s 38-yard TD interception on the second play from scrimmage opened the scoring. On first down, Nathan Anderson made a tackle in the backfield to set up second and very long and Rae read the quarterback like a book for the pick.
The next drive by the Scots ended with Liam Gray’s fumble recovery at the Bellerose 30.
In the second quarter a long Graunke run set up a 27-yard field goal attempt by Connor Hughes that was wide for a single point.
Great blocking by wideout Josh Dobbins paved the way for Graunke’s second TD of the game. At halftime it was 22-7.
After a scoreless third quarter, Tyler Moroz ran a sweep 37 yards into the endzone and strong dashes by Tyler Thorsley and Tyler Feltis closed out the game. Feltis capped off a drive with a one-yard score following a Graunke interception.
Hughes converted all five Bellerose TDs.
Gray finished the game with two fumble recoveries and Dean Ciampanelli was credited with one.
Shorten, 16, overpowered the Scots with 10 tackles, including several huge hits at or behind the line of scrimmage. The six-foot-two, 215-pound Bulldog leads the team in tackles with 28.
Last year Shorten was recognized as the senior team’s rookie of the year, most outstanding defensive player and the team’s most valuable player, as selected by the players.
In the summer he played for Team Alberta at the U18 Canada Cup in London, Ont. In the final Alberta lost to Quebec.
“The experience was amazing. It was great to come back to Bellerose and share what I’ve learned from coaches there and the experience. Overall it was amazing to be a part of that representing my province,” said Shorten, who made the provincial roster at linebacker, but played most of the tournament at defensive end because of a shortage of players at that position.
The win against the Scots all but guaranteed a semifinal showdown with the rival St. Albert High Skyhawks (5-2) at Clarke Park. The metro league said the 7:30 p.m. playoff game would not be moved to St. Albert in order to keep the semifinal doubleheader intact at Clarke Park for the officials.
The only Bellerose loss was 14-13 to the Skyhawks in the 10th annual Battle of St. Albert. The Bulldogs squandered a 13-point second-half lead and Hughes missed a 34-yard field goal on third down and five with 1:34 remaining.
“We try and not look ahead but it’s hard knowing that we lost to them. We really want the chance to play them again and prove that we are a better team,” said Nuels, 15.