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The Bellerose Bulldogs celebrate a touchdown by Max Taylor in the first half of a game against the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds at Johnny Bright Sports Park in Edmonton on Oct. 22, 2021. PRESTON HODGKINSON/St. Albert Gazette

Bellerose Bulldogs' playoff hopes slip away

10/27/2021, 10:15am MDT
By Preston Hodgkinson

The team's provincial qualifying game is slated for Nov. 9. Their opponent will be determined by which team wins the Division Two Miles Division.

The Bellerose Composite Bulldogs finished off their Division One Metro Edmonton High School football season with a 42-21 loss against the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds on Friday.

The game was a back-and-forth affair until the Thunderbirds pulled away in the fourth quarter. 

The loss left the Bulldogs with a 2-5 record for their league play, and had them tied for sixth place in the Carr Division. The finish left them three points outside of a playoff spot. 

Head coach, Jason Lafferty, said the team was just outplayed and they don’t have many excuses to fall back on. 

“If you make mistakes, turn the ball over, and can’t finish drives, you’re going to lose,” said Lafferty. “It doesn’t matter what level of football you play in, that is the story. 

“It’s frustrating that we didn’t finish [higher in the standings] but I thought, for the most part, our kids competed, and everyone has got to keep a perspective.” 

Bulldogs star receiver, Ethan Maki, said there were some bright spots for the club during Friday’s loss, but the result wasn't what they were looking for. 

“There were a few individuals who over-performed but as a team, we under-performed for most of that game,” said Maki. 

The Bulldogs lost a few close games early in the season, including a 25-23 loss against Bev Facey in September and a 23-19 defeat against Austin O'Brien earlier this month. If those games had gone their way, they’d be prepping for a playoff game this week. 

Lafferty said the division was closer than the standings show. 

“The margin for error at the Division One level is small,” said Lafferty. “We’re all very close [in the division], with Bev Facey, us, Spruce Grove, Ross Sheppard, and Austin O’Brien … I think we are all well matched and it’s a competitive place to play.” 

The team's provincial qualifying game is slated for Nov. 9. Their opponent will be determined by which team wins the Division Two Miles Division. 

The Bulldogs plan to improve their overall team experience. With last season wiped out due to COVID, many players on this year’s team are still adjusting to the level of play. 

Maki said it was a big thing missing from this year’s team. 

“Most of the team doesn’t have more than one or two years of experience due to COVID,” said Maki. “Our team, everyone’s teams, missed out on a year of football, and that really hurt everyone.” 

Lafferty said he hopes the time off and practices will help them get over that hump so they show well at the provincial level. 

“We’re going to put the week behind us,” said Lafferty. “We’ll review the film, have those heart-to-heart moments in our room, get better, and evaluate it.

“These are my guys and we’re going to coach them as hard as we can.”

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