Last Wednesday the junior Bellerose Bulldogs football team finished off their season in the Edmonton Metro Junior Conference with a championship win and an MVP award.
The Bulldogs defeated the Harry Ainlay Titans junior team 44-38 in a championship game that went into overtime.
The team has many first-time football players, said coach Jason Lafferty.
“When I see the faces and the sheer enjoyment of the kids, I guess that's why you coach,” he said. “The disbelief that you actually got there and won the game — it's awesome.”
At the end of the night, the league announced the finalists for the Grant Yuzyk MVP award for junior football players in the Metro league, and to his surprise, Grade 10 Bellerose student and quarterback Eli Korownyk received the title.
“I was just happy and grateful I won,” said Korownyk. “There’s a lot of great players in league, and I have some great teammates too.”
Coaches choose the MVP winner, Lafferty said.
“It’s exciting for him and obviously our school to have a young man of Eli’s character and ability,” Lafferty said. “You're going against teams that are from large schools and a lot of good football players that were represented from all the schools. It’s a feather in his cap and a feather in the Bulldogs football program’s cap.”
In addition to leading the junior team, Korownyk filled in for the senior Bulldogs earlier this year when their quarterback was injured.
Korownyk missed the team’s semifinal game because of injuries from two previous games.
“We started off with not a lot of faith in winning the league, and then we played [Salisbury], a really good team, and we ended up winning,” Korownyk said. “I think that gave us some hope that we could do well.”
After nearly winning a game against Harry Ainlay’s formidable Titans, the team gained even more confidence, Korownyk said.
“We installed double wing formation in the semifinals, so old-school football, just running down their throat every play,” he said. “And we scored the most points we did all year in that game with that formation … so we [used it again] in the final. I think just having a trial and error, the wing-type formation and using that, we won the game.”
He hopes next year many of the same players will return, and he expects many will progress to the senior team.
“I think we've got a pretty bright future.”