The numbers are adding up for a championship repeat by the Bellerose Bulldogs in high school junior football.
The fourth shutout this season and the 13th victory in a row since losing the 2011 metro Edmonton premier semifinal was Tuesday’s 35-0 trouncing of the Paul Kane Blues at Riel Recreation Park.
“We just stay humble and play the game that we know,” said Grade 11 quarterback Trace Stuht. “The coaches don’t want us to focus on stats. We look at it as a 0-0 score all the time in every game.”
During their reign of terror the Bulldogs racked up 499 points while surrendering only 40 in 12 regular season and playoff games and one exhibition.
“Definitely it’s all about the coaches,” Stuht said of the Bellerose winning streak. “We’re also executing really well and we’re going hard and working hard in practice.”
Stuht, 16, is one of 17 returning Bulldogs from the first junior football championship team in school history.
A bulging 56-man roster includes players from Sturgeon Composite High School.
“We have a lot of new additions – Sturgeon, Grade 10s, Grade 11s – plus all the old guys coming off last year,” Stuht said. “All the guys are great.”
This year the Bulldogs are in a league of their own while averaging 49.5 points per win.
“Even with injuries we’ve still got a big amount of weapons,” Stuht said. “On defence, inside the box is definitely going really well. They’re all tackling really well. Our DBs are also doing really well with good coverage.”
The Bulldogs needed only two plays after the opening kickoff to put points on the board in the pool B contest. Stuht’s 54-yard romp was followed by Mitch Kruk's 13-yard touchdown.
“The boys get really pumped and excited when we make big plays like that. It makes them all play that much better,” said Stuht, who entered the game with 111 rushing yards behind Kruk’s 455 and Kit Liske’s 133.
On the Blues’ first possession they fumbled the ball on the exchange from centre and Mike Woywitka fell on it at the Paul Kane 42.
After two-and-outs by both teams, the Blues recovered a fumble at their 33 with under five minutes left until quarter time but were forced to punt after one first down.
Back on offence at their 32 the Bulldogs marched the ball to pay dirt on three plays. Kruk’s 15-yard run was followed by a brilliant catch-and-run by Eric Calkins, who was dragged down at the one. Stuht called his own number for the TD to end the quarter.
In the second quarter, after a holding call nullified a big punt return by Terrell Peters deep into Paul Kane territory, Liske ran wild for a 59-yard TD. On the convert attempt, a snafu on the snap to the holder saw kicker Jaedon Carroll run the ball in for two points.
Stuht’s second TD and sixth of the season was a four-yard effort after a lengthy gain by Kruk.
The conversion left the Blues trailing by 29.
The Blues gave up more points in the first quarter than they did in their last two games combined and had allowed 27 points in two wins and one exhibition loss going into the junior version of the Battle of St. Albert.
“We were kind of over-confident going in I think. We weren’t really ready to play Bellerose,” said Darryl Broderick, a slippery Grade 10 tailback who rushed for 68 yards on eight carries.
Kruk’s team-high 11th TD, a 15-yard swing pass from Stuht, rounded out the scoring with 3:49 left in the third quarter.
“We played way better in the second half. We shut them down and allowed one touchdown,” said Broderick, the team’s leading tackler with seven from his outside linebacker position. “We’re the first team to keep them under 50 points, which is good, we just lacked on blocking. That pretty much sums it up.”
Brandon Smith of the Blues added 72 yards on 12 carries and was credited with two tackles and a fumble recovery.
Jamison Enger started at quarterback and slotback Tanner Buchanan took over in the fourth quarter.
The Blues (2-1) will now regroup to play the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds (0-2) this Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Johnny Bright Park.
The top three teams in pools A and B advance to the premier playoffs and the remaining teams compete in the city playoff bracket.
Broderick, 15, is confident the Blues and Bulldogs will cross paths again in the premier playoffs.
“They’re the team to beat,” said Broderick, a first-year football player who’s main game is basketball. “Since our first game (20-14 exhibition loss as the Salisbury Sabres scored the game-winning TD on a five-yard pass as time expired) we’ve been building into a strong team and we’re going to get ready to take on Bellerose in the finals. We have a lot of work to do but I think we can beat them.”
Stuht described the victory as “a good effort” despite some fumble-itis, ill-timed penalties and shortcomings converting third-down gambles by the Bulldogs,
“We all played fairly well. We had a great week of practice and we came out and executed really well,” said Stuht, who picked off a pass with 3.9 seconds to play in a rare appearance at defensive halfback but it was wiped out because of a roughing the passer flag. “I always look forward to the cross-town rival games. It’s always fun and it’s a good atmosphere.”
Up next for the Bulldogs are the Memorial Marauders (3-0). Kickoff is 5 p.m. this Tuesday at Fuhr Sports Park in Spruce Grove.
“It’s going to be a tough game. They’re a really good team but if we step it up in practice we’ll do good,” Stuht said.
Tag(s): Jr. Bulldogs