Depending on which side of the ball the Bellerose Bulldogs lined up on, the glass was half full or half empty over the 40-point loss to the Harry Ainlay Titans.
“We competed fairly well with a high level team like that,” said Grade 11 quarterback Tristan Olenick of the 49-9 result in the division one Carr conference opener in metro Edmonton high school football last Friday at Foote Field.
“We left quite a bit on the field though. On offence we could've played a little bit better. Defence, too. Otherwise overall it was a good game.”
Evan Moroz, a Grade 12 cornerback, had a different take on the outcome against the Carr champions the last two years and 2018 Alberta Bowl Tier I (1,250-plus students) finalists.
“It was a disappointing performance from everyone on the team,” Moroz said. “We really wanted to improve on last year’s performance and we really thought we had a really good chance to beat them this year.”
When asked if it was moral victory after last year’s 77-0 shellacking by Ainlay in week two of the regular season, Moroz replied: “A loss is a loss. We’re only happy with winning.”
Stats from the game were not posted on the Bellerose football web page at press time.
Head coach Jason Lafferty estimated the halftime score was 28-1 and Adam Rafat was on the receiving end of a catch and run touchdown pass from Olenick in the second half.
As for the defensive unit, “Everything that we messed up on against Harry Ainlay we know what we did wrong and we can improve on that and we have guys with heart so they’re strong and they know how to improve and play better,” Moroz said.
Prior to the Ainlay match, the Bulldogs huddled up in two exhibitions: 30-12 loss to the LCI Rams of Lethbridge and 25-21 win against the Notre Dame Cougars of Red Deer.
Last year's Bulldogs finished 3-4 overall as the sixth and last playoff qualifier in the Carr after losing their first three games.
This year’s eight-team Carr conference features three of the top-10 Tier I teams in the Football Alberta rankings: No. 2 Salisbury Sabres (1-0), No. 6 Ainlay and the No. 9 Spruce Grove Panthers (1-0).
Friday the Bulldogs hosted the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds (1-0) at Larry Olexiuk Field and the score was unavailable at press time.
“We’re going in pretty confident. That’s a winnable game for us,” Olenick said at Thursday’s practice.
“We want it to not be a close game. We want to blow them out, but we’ll just have to see if it happens on Friday,” added Moroz, 17.
The next game is Friday versus the visiting Bev Facey Falcons (0-1) at 7:30 p.m.
Olenick, 15, has faith in the Bulldogs’ ability to put points on the board.
“Offensively we’re pretty strong,” he said. “Some of our strengths are the passing game.
“The big thing is protection. You can’t do anything without protection from the O-line.”
Olenick drew the start at QB against Ainlay after spending last year with the junior Bulldogs as the team’s MVP.
“It gave me lots of leadership leading into this year,” Olenick said of his first season of high school football. “It helped getting a feel for the game and the speed of it and making decisions on the fly.”
Taking the next step to the senior level has been somewhat of a smooth transition for Olenick.
“I’ve played football with lots of these guys throughout SAMFA (St. Albert Minor Football Association) so that chemistry obviously has carried over and that’s nice to see.”
The first game for the junior Bulldogs is Wednesday against Shep at 7:30 p.m. at Larry Olexiuk Field.
At a recent jamboree, the Bulldogs posted victories of 21-14 against Ainlay, 14-0 against Shep and 21-7 against Facey.
Spotted at Thursday’s practice was Tim Enger, the longtime Football Alberta executive director who is assisting his son Mackenzie, the new head coach of the junior Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs are the third St. Albert team Enger has been associated with as a coach after the early years of the St. Albert High Skyhawks and most recently the Paul Kane Blues.