Foote Field – The Bellerose Bulldogs are licking their wounds after a painful performance in division one Carr conference football.
Friday’s 44-14 beat-down by the Harry Ainlay Titans (3-0) was supposed to be a statement game for the Bulldogs against the No. 1 team in the Carr.
“It’s a disappointment. We should’ve at least been closer. It shouldn’t have been so much of a blowout,” said Travis Heggart, a Grade 11 slotback and linebacker.
The Bulldogs (2-1) trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, 24-0 at halftime and 38-0 after three quarters. The majority of the second half was played with running time.
“The game tape made my stomach turn,” said Chad Hill, head coach of the No. 7-ranked Tier I (1,250-plus students) team in Alberta.
Hill described the No. 2-ranked Tier I Titans as flat-out fast with superior athletic talent that exposed some of the Bulldogs’ poor technique on defence.
A number of U16, U17 and U18 Team Alberta standouts play for the Titans, including receiver Ajou Ajou, who hails from Brooks and was the offensive MVP at the Football Canada Western U16 Challenge in July, quarterback Eli Hetinger and Lwal Uguak, a terror on the defensive line.
The Titans shredded the Bulldogs’ secondary for 360 passing yards and four touchdowns while completing 10 out of 18 attempts.
“We saw it on film but I don’t know why it surprised us. We should’ve know it was there,” Heggart said of the Titans’ lethal aerial attack. “They’ve got some quick guys and we just kind of let them go past us.”
The Titans also scored two rushing TDs while racking up 170 yards on 10 carries.
The Titans struck quickly on their second play from scrimmage with a 63-yard catch and run behind coverage 2:05 into the contest.
After the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs on their second series, the Titans responded with 71-yard TD as the receiver stepped out of a tackle near the sideline and motored into the endzone.
The Titans padded their point totals with a 17-yard field goal and 22-yard TD reception before halftime.
A couple of injuries and penalties, some questionable, also hurt the Bulldogs in the first half, including a big first-down reception by Heggart that was wiped out and the Bulldogs down by 24 points.
The Titans started off the third quarter with a three-play 58-yard drive, culminating with a 34-yard TD.
A 74-yard TD romp with 7:12 left until quarter time made it 38-0.
The Bulldogs pulled it together somewhat in the fourth quarter as Quade Kozak hit Cordel Callioux for a first down at the Titans’ 35 on a fake punt and a couple of Heggart catches moved the sticks to set up Ben VanLeeuwen’s four-yard TD run. The two-point conversion pass was unsuccessful.
Kozak and Heggart also teamed up for a 74-yard scoring play and the two-point pass to Logan McCullogh was good.
The Titans closed out the blowout with a 56-yard TD reception.
“We didn’t come out strong but we kind of came back a bit in the second half. It seemed to work out a lot more for us,” said Heggart, who finished the loss with three catches for 100 yards.
Kozak was an iffy 14-for-30 passing for 198 yards.
Callioux was credited with 34 yards on a team-high five receptions and McCullough had 38 yards on three catches.
“Their D-line made it hard for the QB to have time in the pocket to complete passes. He just didn’t have that much time and we couldn’t get the passes off that we wanted,” said Heggart, who has snagged seven passes for 165 yards and two TDs in three games this season.
Kozak also gained 62 of the team’s 125 rushing yards on nine runs and VanLeeuwen was held to 49 yards on 10 carries.
Kozak leads the Bulldogs in rushing with 288 yards on 35 runs.
Heggart, 16, was also the team’s top tackler with four. Cole Precht, Bronson Wilkie and Bryce Workman each had three and Darryl Marsh sacked the quarterback once.
The next game is Friday against the Jasper Place Rebels (0-3) at 7:30 p.m. at Larry Olexiuk Field.
The Rebels’ lineup included Russell Dixon, a really good quarterback who was the star of the show for Paul Kane’s junior team last year. Dixon transferred to Jasper Place to play in the Carr instead of the division two Miles conference with Paul Kane’s senior team.
There is no time for a pity party for the Bulldogs as the four highest finishers in the eight-team Carr standings qualify for the playoffs.
“We’ve got to shake this loss off. It’s still early in the season, we’ve just got to practice way harder and focus more,” said Heggart, the 2016 recipient of the Larry Olexiuk Award as the senior team’s most outstanding offensive player.