Semifinal showdowns on Friday night football: Battle of St. Albert between Paul Kane and the Skyhawks in division two Miles conference, plus Bellerose versus Salisbury in division one Carr conference

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The Battle of St. Albert playoff edition will shake, rattle and roll Friday night at Johnny Bright Park.

The Paul Kane Blues and St. Albert High Skyhawks exchange pleasantries in the division two Miles conference semifinal at 6 p.m.

The winner advances to the Nov. 3 final at 5 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Blues were Miles champions with undefeated records in 2013 and 2014 before a stint in the division one Carr conference ended with this year’s return to the Miles.

The Skyhawks were Miles’ finalists in 2015.

The last time two St. Albert teams squared-off in the metro Edmonton playoffs was 2012 and the Skyhawks beat the Bellerose Bulldogs 28-8 in the Carr semifinal. It was also the last year before the merger of the metro and Edmonton public leagues.

The first showdown between the Blues and Skyhawks since 2014 was 43-30 for the Blues on Sept. 29. The halftime sore was 36-14.

The Blues also dominated the Skyhawks 78-14 in 2013 and 56-0 in 2014 after Paul Kane formed its own football program in 2011after providing players to the Skyhawks based at St. Albert Catholic High School.

Monday’s pool A and B crossover quarter-final results for both teams at Emerald Hills Recreational Park were 33-0 for the Blues (6-1) over the Leduc Tigers (2-5) and a stunning late-play 31-29 victory for the Skyhawks (5-2) over the McNally Tigers (4-3).

Full details were not available at press time but apparently McNally was leading in the last minute of play with the ball inside its five-yard line when panic set in. Instead of the quarterback attempting to knee it out to kill the clock or even give up a safety while running around in the endzone to end the game, McNally turned the ball over to the Skyhawks at the one with basically a tick on the clock. A shovel pass to DeAmonte Overman by quarterback Ewan Vanderheide with a defender in his face completed the astonishing turn of events.

Meanwhile, the Blues have surrendered only nine points in their last four games after posting their second consecutive shutout and the offence has average 40.25 points per game during that span.

Entering the semifinal, the Blues are winners of five in a row and the Skyhawks are victorious in their last three games.

Both teams have also qualified for their respective provincial playdowns starting Nov. 11.

In Tier II (750 to 1,249 students), the No. 7-ranked Blues are the second metro reps in the north semifinals and will play the No. 1-ranked St. Joseph’s Celtics, last year’s Alberta Bowl finalists, in Grande Prairie.

In Tier III (450 to 749 students), the No. 4-ranked Skyhawks are expected to line up against No. 8-ranked Peace Wapiti Academy Titans in Grande Prairie.

The Skyhawks and Ardrossan Bisons, a Tier IV (449 or less students) team last year, were the only Tier III teams in the Miles this year and the Skyhawks beat the Bisons 21-9 in the season opener.

Bulldogs football

The Bulldogs also have a semifinal date Friday and the kick-off against the Salisbury Sabres is 7:30 p.m. at Clarke Stadium.

The Carr teams are both 5-2 and in league play the Bulldogs downed Salisbury 43-21 in Sherwood Park. At halftime it was 30-7.

The last metro championship for the Bellerose senior team was 2007 in the Miles.

The Carr final against the Harry Ainlay Titans (7-0) or Austin O’Brien Crusaders (4-3) is Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium.

“Playing Sal will be a battle,” said head coach Chad Hill. “The score was a bit lopsided in week two as we had a few bounces go our way and capitalized on turnovers. We were also able to run some fakes with success on special teams.

“We know this will be a hard-fought physical game. They can run the ball well and have a solid passing game. Their defence swarms to the ball and their secondary is disciplined in zone coverage.”

The Bulldogs are coming off a mesmerizing 31-27 performance against the defending champion Bev Facey Falcons (3-4) as the Bulldogs scored two touchdowns late in the game after trailing by 10.

“It looks like we get Nick deChamplain back on the O-line so we’re going to have to be able to run the ball with more consistency than what we have shown in the past couple of weeks,” Hill said of the 42-6 win over the Ross Sheppard Thunderbids (2-5) and the Facey tilt that yielded 148 yards on the ground on 31 carries between five players.

“Defensively, we have to get off blocks and play with sound run fits in our front seven. We will be without Brett Yost (defensive end/linebacker) so Karl Haasz, Liam Burch, Ben (VanLeeuwen), Coogs (Matt Coogan) and Trav (Travis Heggart) are going to have to pick up the slack.

“It should be a great game.”

The Bulldogs also punched their ticket to their second Tier I (1,250-plus students) provincial playdowns in two years and the result against Salisbury will determine who hosts the Robert Thirsk Comets of Calgary or huddles up against Ainlay in the Nov. 11 north semifinals.

Last year’s 38-6 loss to Facey in the north semifinals marked the first provincial game for the Bulldogs since the Bellerose football team was formed in 1998 after the breakup of the Bellerose-based St. Albert Storm.

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About Author

Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.