When the Belmont Bulldogs varsity football team lines up against the Notre Dame Jugglers Friday at Goudy Field, they hope to take a step toward some longer-term success.
The Bulldogs, sitting 1-3 in the B.C. High School Football AAA league’s Western Conference, won’t have concussed starting quarterback Darian Jules in the lineup for a third straight game. But head coach Alexis Sanschagrin hopes his players will continue to gain confidence as they work around Jules’ absence.
The Bulldogs, who kick off at 3 p.m. following the junior varsity Bulldogs/Jugglers game at 1:30, have had to move some key players around, with running back Brett Milligan slotting into the QB role and wide receiver Jared Barrow moving to fill Milligan’s spot in the backfield.
Under the league’s generous playoff format, one win may be enough to get the Bulldogs into the post-season. But Sanschagrin and his players want to accomplish more than just squeaking in as the number 6 seed from the West.
“If we win one more game we are definitely in,” he said, noting that the Carson Graham Eagles are the lone winless team in the conference at 0-4. Most teams in the conference have two games remaining.
While having a senior starting QB out of the lineup would be enough to put any program behind the eight ball, Sanschagrin was feeling optimistic this week about the Bulldogs’ chances of pulling off an upset or two down the road.
Last week’s 12-9 overtime home win against Carson Graham, while accomplishing the goal of putting up a ‘W,’ was not as close as the score might indicate, he said.
“I think we all felt we played better than that. We probably outgained them three to one in terms of yardage, but at the end of the day you’ve got to perform when it matters.”
An example of that came in the dying moments of regulation, when Carson Graham had a chance to kick the winning field goal. Sanschagrin went into the huddle in a timeout and implored his defenders to blitz the kicker and block the attempt, which they did.
The exciting “Texas shootout” overtime format sees teams start on the 10-yard line and get one series to score. The ‘Dogs held the Eagles to a field goal then got a touchdown from Barrow for the win.
Milligan ran in Belmont’s lone touchdown during regulation time, while the Eagles scored their lone TD on a recovered fumble by Belmont at the Bulldogs 25-yard line.
While the offence has been making those adjustments, the Bulldogs defence has been improving every game, Sanschagrin said.
“That was definitely our best game on defence, we had a good game plan and the kids executed well,” he said. He added they did well to hold high-powered division leaders Mount Douglas to a 30-13 win in the previous game.
Middle linebacker Tanner Hayward was a force against the Eagles, chalking up 10 tackles, while lineman Dontae Bull added four tackles, a sack, a quarterback pressure and a forced fumble. Darien Attridge, one of a number of players seeing action on both sides of the ball, recorded five tackles from his defensive back position.
The ground game was more prevalent for the Bulldogs on the day, with Attridge leading the way with 76 yards rushing, Milligan with 68 and Barrow with 25.
The Bulldogs close out their regular season with an Oct. 28 home game (4:30 p.m. kickoff) against high-scoring New Westminster, who are currently in a three-way tie for second place with Notre Dame and South Delta at 2-1.
The playoffs would start the following weekend at various sites.
Unless the Bulldogs win both their remaining games, they would be on the road for the duration of their playoff run.
Junior varsity ’Dogs look for first win
Despite sitting at 0-4 for the football season, the junior varsity Belmont Bulldogs can improve their lot this week.
Today they play a Notre Dame team that is also 0-4, one of three such teams in B.C.’s JV West AAA conference. Remaining are a home game against New West (currently 3-1) and a road game against Mount Boucherie (0-4) in Kelowna.
While the Bulldogs have struggled to find the end zone this season and have allowed a lot of points, Sanschagrin said he’s happy with his players’ efforts.
“Sometimes our dedication and commitment doesn’t get rewarded by a win, but it’s a matter of trusting the process,” he said.