Some said the Bellerose Bulldogs wouldn’t hack it in the new Carr Division.
When the Edmonton Public league and the Metro Edmonton league merged at the beginning of the year, Bellerose, which has a student enrolment of just over 1,100, was seeded with the likes of the Jasper Place Rebels and Harry Ainlay Titans — teams with 2,000-plus enrolment schools.
“There were some question marks with the merging of the leagues on whether or not we belong, and our boys heard some of that talk: ‘Oh, you guys won’t win a game up there’, and stuff like that,” says Bulldogs head coach Chad Hill.
“I believe in these guys, we have some fantastic coaches and fantastic young men playing for us, and I think it’s about proving those people wrong and proving ourselves right.”
For a moment, it looked as if the critics were right, as the Bulldogs dropped their first two games of the season to the Salisbury Sabres and the Harry Ainlay Titans.
But the Bulldogs have since rallied to win their last three games and move into a tie for third place in the eight-team division.
“The loss against Harry Ainlay in the second game was very hard,” says Hill. “We felt like we could have won that game — as far as a regular season loss goes I don’t know if I’ve ever been more upset.
“We had a pretty good team meeting afterwards and I think from that point on the boys really started to believe in themselves.”
TWO TO GO
Heading into week five, the Carr Division had five teams all tied with 2-2 records. On Saturday, the Bulldogs squared off against one of those teams in the defending Tier II provincial champs, the Austin O’Brien Crusaders.
Despite losing three defensive back players in the secondary, the Bulldogs were able to shut down and shut out the Crusaders to earn a 7-0 victory.
“It was nice to see some different players come in and we didn’t see a drop off whatsoever,” says Hill.
The Bulldogs will now prepare to play the defending Tier I City champions, the Spruce Grove Panthers, and their dominant running back Quinn Polley, who has amassed over 1,200 yards rushing so far this season.
“They have, in my opinion, the best offensive line in the area,” says Hill. “We’ve been playing very well on defence, but we’re going to have to play just as well, if not better, if we’re going to hang in there.”