Saints march past Blues
Junior football teams meet again in Nov. 1 premier semifinals
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 27, 2012 06:00 am
Clarke Park – Tuesday’s playoff preview in metro Edmonton high school junior football ended on a losing note for the Paul Kane Blues.
The defending premier conference champions dropped a 24-21 decision to the St. Joseph Saints in the last game before the Nov. 1 semifinals.
Kickoff between the Saints (6-1) and the Blues (4-3) is 7:30 p.m. at Foote Field. Admission is $5.
Kieran Porter, a two-way Grade 10 stalwart, was surprised by the result.
“We knew they were a strong team but the game was closer than what I thought it would be,” he said.
When asked if the Blues beat themselves, Porter replied: “No. They beat us. They were better all around.”
Porter, 15, admitted it was tough to play the same team the Blues would see next week in the playoffs. The Blues were also missing some players and the coaching staff didn’t show the Saints everything they had in the playbook.
“In a game like this we’ve got to see what that team is like, then we fix what we missed and just practise hard,” Porter said.
The Blues need to improve several areas to win the rematch.
“We’ve got to come out really strong,” Porter said. “We’ve really got to pick up our defence. We’ve got to cover the zone and we can’t let the bootleg get by us. Our offence also needs to pick up our blocks on the pitch.”
The Saints scored on their first offensive possession, set up by three Paul Kane penalties – two offside and one for roughing the passer – that kept the drive alive.
The Blues struggled moving the ball and turned it over twice. A fumble in the backfield was recovered at the Saints’ 13 with 52 seconds left in the first quarter and Shaydon Philip’s pass went off two Paul Kane receivers before it was intercepted at the Saints’ 37 with 3:30 gone in the second quarter.
After the Saints made it 14-0 with 3:28 to go before the break, the Blues caught fire and scored two converted TDs 83 seconds apart. A 42-yard catch and run by Jon Pharis put the Blues on the board and Philip scampered eight yards to pay dirt, set up by a 43-yard punt return by Pharis to the Saints’ 28.
”Our offence had a slow start and then we picked it up,” said Porter, a valuable tailback who also lined up at defensive tackle after spending most of the season at linebacker.
On the second last play in the half, a TD by the Saints’ elusive quarterback was called back because of illegal procedure.
The Saints regained the lead with a 23-yard field goal to end the third quarter.
On the Saints’ next possession, on first down at their 21, the ball carrier turned the corner and raced down the sideline for a pivotal TD two minutes into the last quarter.
“Our defence missed some tackles in the game and that hurt us,” Porter said.
Back on offence, a galloping Pharis gobbled up the yards for a first down at the four. A one-yard sneak by Philip completed the four-play drive with 7:18 to play. Nick Parrotta kicked his third convert of the game.
With time winding down, the Blues converted one third down and on their next third down play with three yards to go, Philip was sacked near the Saints’ 50 with 2:30 on the clock.
The Saints rattled off some first downs to complete the win.
The loss marked the first game Porter failed to reach the endzone after racking up seven TD in four straight games.
“I had some good blocks and I just found the holes,” Porter said of his scoring spree.
The Blues have now lost two in a row going into the playoffs.
“We’ve had some down games and in most of our losses we’ve beat ourselves. We’ve got to pick that up and fix our penalties and make our blocks,” Porter said.
Last year the Blues finished 7-1 overall in the first year of football at Paul Kane.
“There is a lot of pressure,” Porter said of the team’s bid to repeat “We’ve got to get up to the same level that team had last year.”
Dawgs team to beat
The road to the premier championship will run through the undefeated Bellerose Bulldogs (7-0). They are averaging 30.8 points per win and have given up only 34 points overall.
The Bulldogs are waiting for the result of Monday’s game between the O’Leary Spartans and the last-place St. Albert Hawks to see who they will play in the Nov. 1 semifinal at 5 p.m. at Foote Field. A win would clinch fourth spot for the Spartans (3-3). They trail the Salisbury Sabres by one point for the last premier playoff berth. The Sabres (3-3-1) moved into fourth place in Tuesday’s 27-7 win over the Hawks (0-6) at Riel Recreation Park. Down 7-6 with about 10 minutes to play, the Sabres broke a punt return for a TD and the floodgates opened.
The bottom four teams in metro compete for city conference honours. The Hawks, winless in 12 games since the 2010 regular season, tackle the fifth-place finisher Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. at Johnny Bright Park.
The Nov. 8 finals are 5 p.m. city and 7:30 p.m. premier at Foote Field.
The Bulldogs have never won a junior football championship and the last time they reached the final was 2005, a 29-9 loss to the Hawks for the premier title.
The Bulldogs closed out the regular season in Tuesday’s 23-1 win over the Spartans in St. Albert. Both teams played it close to the vest going into the playoffs and sat out some players, including the speedy Spartans' running back and Bellerose game-breaker Seth Waselenchuk.
In the first half the Spartans gave up a safety, Robbie Tamburro finished off a drive with a one yard TD run, the Spartans kicked a 50-plus punt single and Matt Short hooked up with Dylan Shorten for a 60-yard pass and run TD.
Andrew Johnson’s 45-yard TD run early in the third quarter wrapped up the scoring.
Nick Cowan converted three TDs and was a force punting the ball. Cowan, Josh Coogan and John Comeau also led the front seven on defence.
On coverage teams, James Ho stood out making tackles and recovered a fumble.