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St. Albert football teams tackle Metro League championships

The Bellerose Bulldogs went up against the Sturgeon spirits, while the Paul Kane Blues tangled with the Harry Ainlay Titans
Sturgeon Spirits quarterback Dustin Campbell gets blocking from Rylie McRobbie as Bellerose Bulldog linebacker Braxton Turner rushes the passer. SUPPLIED/Amused Images- Glen Freeman

St. Albert and area high school football teams wrapped up their Metro Edmonton League seasons with championship games at Clarke Stadium last weekend.

The Bellerose Bulldogs and the Sturgeon Spirits went head-to-head on Nov. 4 for the Division 2 Miles Conference title. The Bulldogs defeated the Spirits, 38-6.

“We just kind of jumped on them and we were able to get a bit of a lead,” said Bulldogs coach Jason Lafferty. “[The Spirits] could really rush the ball very well this year, and their quarterback does a fantastic job of running the football. So, we just wanted to make sure that we maintained our momentum and kept them off the field.”

Bellerose player Darius Crandell garnered the team a 73-yard opening kick return to put the Bulldogs in scoring position and help them take control of the game.

Ty Kohut scored a pair of rushing majors for the Bulldogs, and their swarming defence kept the Sturgeon offence in check. The lone Sturgeon touchdown was scored by quarterback Dusty Campbell for his conference-leading 13th rushing touchdown of the season, said Spirits coach Chad Hill.

“Sturgeon came up from Division 3 (Gilfillan Conference) after an undefeated 2022 championship,” Hill said. “One bright spot for the Spirits was that injured quarterback/kicker Austin Panchyshyn, out since breaking his leg in August, suited up and got on the field for one play to end his high school football career.”

“The day did not go as we had hoped, but that is football and that's life. I am proud of the way our team battled and overcame a pile of adversity this season. Moving up divisions is not easy at the best of times.”

This season the Bulldogs moved to the Division 2 Miles Conference from the Division 1 Carr Conference. The team will not go to the provincials.

“We have 11 graduates leaving our program from the senior team,” Lafferty said. “They won the last football game that they ever played in high school … [They can] walk off the field and feel like they've given everything to our school.”

Paul Kane Blues head to provincials

The Paul Kane Blues will move on to the provincials, playing in the Larry Wilson Division, after winning six of their nine games in the Metro League.

This year the team moved up from the the Division 2 Miles Conference to the Division 1 Carr Conference.

“We just needed another challenge,” said coach Rob Strecker. “We were bringing back so many good football players and had a good group of kids coming up into high school. I just felt that I owed it to them to go up a division … People in the football community were saying we weren't going to win a game, and we certainly proved them wrong.”

They lost last Saturday’s Metro championship game to the Harry Ainlay Titans 43-7, but will still move on to the provincials in the Larry Wilson Division.

“The boys battled hard," Strecker said. "And we still gave [Ainlay] the biggest battle of all the teams that have played them up to this point. So we're pretty proud of that.”

Next weekend the Blues will play the Grande Prairie Phoenix at the Emerald Hills Regional Field in Sherwood Park.

Strecker said the team’s experience in the Carr Division this year puts them in a good spot for the provincials.

“No St. Albert high school team has won a provincial championship before," he said. 

"We’d love to be the first.”

About the Author: Riley Tjosvold

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