The Bellerose Bulldogs and St. Albert High Skyhawks suffered season-ending losses in Saturday’s north finals in high school football.
Bellerose was blanked 49-0 by the Harry Ainlay Titans in Tier I (1,250-plus students) at Clarke Stadium and the Skyhawks fell 35-10 to the Holy Rosary Raiders in Tier III (450 to 749 students) at Lloydminster.
The loss was the third for Bellerose (7-4) against Ainlay (11-0) after setbacks in the metro Edmonton division one Carr conference by scores of 44-14 Sept. 22 in league play and 48-14 in the Nov. 3 final.
The Football Alberta Tier I rankings list Ainlay second and Bellerose fifth.
Bellerose used four quarterbacks in four games during the Carr playoffs and Tier I playdowns after Quade Kozak, the Haliburton Trophy winner as the MVP in the Carr, was injured in the 38-29 semifinal win against the Salisbury Sabres (5-4).
This year marked the first Carr final in Bellerose history and the first provincial win in the team’s second consecutive appearance in the Tier I playdowns was 42-14 against the No. 8 Centennial Coyotes (3-7) of Calgary in the Nov. 11 north semifinal at Foote Field.
Bellerose was also the first St. Albert team to reach the Tier I north final since the 2000 Carr champion Skyhawks.
The Bellerose football program was formed in 1998 following the breakup of the Bellerose-based St. Albert Storm and the birth of Skyhawks’ football at St. Albert Catholic High School.
The Tier III north final was the third in a row for the Skyhawks (6-4) against the Raiders (8-4) after losses of 61-0 in 2016 at Clarke Stadium and 28-0 in 2015 at Lloydminster and the fifth overall in six Tier III playdowns since 2011.
The Raiders, four-time Wheatland league champions and Alberta Bowl finalists the last two years, are ranked fourth and the Skyhawks, division two Miles conference semifinalists, are fifth in the Tier III top 10.
The only St. Albert teams to reach the Alberta Bowl provincial finals are the Storm in 1990, 1992 and 1997 in Tier I and the 2012 Skyhawks in Tier III.
More football coverage will appear in Wednesday’s edition of the Gazette.