It all comes down to this. Life-long memories will be forged on the gridiron on Saturday at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton. The stage is set for the Metro Edmonton High School Athletics Senior High School Football Championships. Eight teams are vying for four division titles. When it is all said and done, some will go home champions, and never forget the thrill of victory. Others will not be as fortunate and be cursed to relive the tortured memory of defeat. Here is how the day-long set of championship games break down.
First up, the Bright Division championship game is at 10:00 a.m.
The McNally Tigers, who dominated the Fort Saskatchewan Sting 25-0 in the semi-finals, will square off against the St. Joseph Saints, after they eked out a 22-21 win over the Holy Trinity Trojans in their semi-final game.
Next, the Gilfillan Division championship game is at 12:30 p.m. and features a showdown between the M.E. LaZerte Voyageurs and the Ardrossan Bisons.
The Voyageurs finished the regular season with five wins, no losses, and a tie. They routed the St. Albert Skyhawks (who they had tied in-season) in the semi-finals, 35-9. Meanwhile, the Bisons squeaked past the Lillian Osborne Phoenix, 17-16, after each of those teams finished the regular with identical five and one records.
Then, the Miles Division championship game is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and sees a showdown between the Sturgeon Spirits and the Bellerose Bulldogs.
The Spirits are coming off an undefeated 2022 in the Gilfillan. This season, promoted to the Miles, the Spirits finished with four wins and three losses. Then, they punched their championship game ticket with a 20-7 semi-final win over the second place Archbishop Jordan Scots.
The Bellerose Bulldogs, meanwhile, last competed in the Carr division until a rough 2022 that saw the team finish with a tie and five losses. This year, in the Miles division, the Bulldogs have dominated, putting together a division topping six wins and one loss record. They smashed the St. Francis Xavier Rams in the semi-finals, 48-6.
“It’s going to be a competitive game,” said Spirits Head Coach Chad Hill, who was the head coach of (and played for) the very team his Spirits are up against between 2008 and 2017.
“[The Bulldogs] passing game is very, very good. They have a receiver named Darius Crandell who is head and shoulders leading the league in receiving yards and touchdowns. So, we have our work cut out for us to try to limit Darius, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
“We’re meeting in the middle,” Hill said of the matchup. “You know, it makes for interesting stories, right?”
Finally, the Carr Division championship game is set for 5:30 p.m. between the Paul Kane Blues and the Harry Ainlay Titans.
The Blues won every game they played in 2022, all the way to the Miles division championship. The Blues continued their winning ways this year in the Carr, with a solid five-win and two-loss regular season record before shutting down the Bev Facey Falcons, 7-0, in the semi-final.
The Harry Ainlay Titans are the defending Carr division champions, and a complete dynastic dream-crushing wrecking ball. The Titans last loss was the 2021 Carr division championship game, where they were upset by the Salisbury Sabres. In Titans fashion, they won their 2023 semi-final game, 42-6, over the Austin O’Brien Crusaders.
Whether win or lose, thrill or torture, the drive to get back here – to the winner’s circle – will be the same. Standing shoulder to shoulder alongside teammates and friends, with just one more shot, to do it all again.