Foote Field – Winning their first Carr conference game in school history is still a work in progress for the Paul Kane Blues.
Thursday’s 32-17 loss to the Archbishop Jordan Scots dropped the Blues into last place in the seven-team standings with three games remaining. Six teams make the playoffs.
“The guys are discouraged,” said Steve Day, head coach of the 0-3 Blues.
The first-year high school football team has been outscored 114-18 in the metro Edmonton league after kicking off their inaugural season with a 40-0 exhibition win against the Edmonton public league’s M.E. Lazerte Voyageurs.
“We have some guys that can play football, we just need to get 12 of them on the field all the time,” Day said. “We always seem to have one guy who has a wrong assignment here, or missing a block here. It’s just one little thing after another and it all snowballs on us.”
Grade 12 linebacker Josh Hauptman is confident the Blues will celebrate a victory this year.
“We’re getting better. We’re trying hard and that’s the main thing,” Hauptman said.
The Scots were also winless before beating the Blues. They scored four touchdowns, kicked a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter and with 1:08 to play made it 25-17 with a punt single.
“We played better in the second half and we did some good things on offence and defence,” said Hauptman, who ranked among the team’s top tacklers in the loss.
The Blues opened the scoring on their first possession, as soccer player Ideen Samodi kicked a 34-yard field goal.
In the first minute of the second quarter, after a holding penalty nullified a three-yard touchdown run by the Scots, they settled for a 15-yard field goal attempt. However the snap from centre flew over the holder’s head and Adam Sturgess recovered the ball at the Paul Kane 22.
The next time on offence the Scots marched the ball from their 37, and on the quarterback sneak, scored from one yard out with 6:06 left until the break.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Blues fumbled away a screen pass and the Scots fell on the ball at the Paul Kane 36. The Scots eventually split the uprights to extend their lead to 10-3 with 72 seconds remaining in the half.
In the first half the Scots gave the Blues fits with their time-consuming, run-oriented offence.
“They went up the middle on us and we had trouble stopping them,” Hauptman said.
The Blues also struggled offensively with a weak ground game while falling behind on the scoreboard. Penalties also hurt the Blues in key situations.
“We came out flat and nervous,” said Day, who watched the first half from the spotter’s booth before spending the second half on the Paul Kane sideline. “We only showed up for half a game of football.”
Strong second half
On the Blues’ opening drive of the second half, quarterback Matteo Sestito was picked off by the Scots at their 29. The Scots marched into scoring range but fumbled the ball at the line and Jake Svenson recovered it at the Paul Kane 31. The Blues then went two-and out, and on third down the Scots blocked Samodi’s punt. Three plays later, on third and four at the Paul Kane 15, the Scots scored on a quarterback bootleg with 5:25 left in the quarter.
Down 17-3 in the fourth quarter, Sestito was intercepted by the Scots at their 22. But on second down, Joshua Kabat picked off a pass at the Scots’ 21. On first down, Sestito flipped the ball to Felix Schmidt, who hit a wide-open Mackenzie Enger in the endzone with 9:41 to play.
The Scots added to their point totals with a converted TD on a 58-yard run with 4:56 on the clock to make it 24-10.
Back on offence, Sestito completed passes of 34 yards to Josh Wilkie and 23 yards to Nate Mitchell before hooking up with Mitchell in the endzone for a 24-yard TD reception. Samodi’s second convert of the game was good.
With time running out on the Blues, Sestito overthrew a receiver and the Scots returned the pick to the Paul Kane 45. The Scots ended the game with a converted TD on a seven-yard quarterback bootleg.
Day was encouraged by his team’s second half performance.
“We showed some enthusiasm and heart. We showed that we could play football, we were just a little bit too late,” Day said. “We had some leaders step up, which we’ve been waiting for all season. Some of our captains led by example on the field. They started to get some motivation and energy into the team and that kind of brought us along.”
The Blues moved the sticks through the air after limited first downs in the first half.
“We thought we could throw the ball against these guys and we proved that we could,” Day said. “However, we’re still one mistake here, one mistake there … and it comes back to hurt us.”
Battle of St. Albert
Up next for the Blues are the Bellerose Bulldogs (1-3) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and the St. Albert High Skyhawks (1-2) Oct. 13 at 5 p.m. at the Riel Park turf field. Admission is $5.
“The energy will be there for sure. The Battle of St. Albert should be fun. The guys will be ready to play,” Day said.
Hauptman, 16, believes the St. Albert teams will bring out the best in the Blues.
“We’re excited, especially after seeing Bellerose play SACHS,” Hauptman said of the 13-10 Bellerose win over the Skyhawks on Sept. 15. “Playing Bellerose was fun from my SACHS days.”
Hauptman is a former Skyhawk who decided to play for his own high school instead of sticking with the St. Albert Catholic High School-based program. Before this year Paul Kane students could huddle up with the Skyhawks.
“Playing SACHS is basically going to prove that we should’ve split off as a team,” he said. “It’s going to be fun playing them.”