The Belmont Bulldogs have come a long way since starting out on the lowest rung of the high school football ladder in 2006.
Regardless of their solid 3-3 record in their first year playing at the AAA level in 2013, the highest in the province, there’s always going to be the inevitable comparisons to the boys in purple across town.
Bulldogs head coach Alexis Sanschagrin, who joined the program four years ago, has as good a measuring stick as anyone. He spent the previous five years coaching the purple-clad Mount Douglas Rams.
“We’re basically in the same spot Mount Doug was in five years ago,” he says. “If we keep doings things right and keep improving, we’re going to be more and more competitive every year,” he says. “There’s a lot of very good athletes out here. Now we’re confident that we’re offering a good product and kids on the West Shore have a great alternative to commuting and travelling across town to play.”
As the Bulldogs prepare to open training camp Monday (Aug. 20) at Goudy Field for its junior and senior teams – the teacher’s strike will prevent Sanschagrin, a teacher at Arbutus middle school, from participating – the people who have built the program can look back and feel good about its evolution.
Not only is the senior varsity team becoming more of a factor in B.C., individual players are getting recognized for their abilities. This summer Dontae Bull, Tanner Hayward and Darian Jules represented B.C. at the under-16 Red River Cup in Winnipeg. Three more: lineman Kolton Henderson, quarterback Brendan Holland and tight end Edgar Nelson are shortlisted for the U18 B.C. team – Sanschagrin is defensive co-ordinator – that will play at the U.S. Army International Bowl in San Antonio over Christmas break.
Belmont grads linebacker Tristen Forish (UBC Thunderbirds) and linebacker/running back Sam Varao (Regina Huskies) will attend university on scholarships this fall.
“In the last couple years, Belmont has stepped up and become a much better team, one recognized by colleges as a team to watch,” says Clancy Keoughan, equipment manager and strength coach. He’s worked with a core group of 15 to 20 players who’ve been doing strength training this summer. “The amount of effort that’s gone into it by some of these boys has been just amazing.”
Students from Belmont, Spencer or Dunsmuir middle schools or John Stubbs elementary interested in playing this fall are encouraged to sign up. Experience is not necessary and equipment is provided, all players need is appropriate footwear.
For the practice schedule and other inquiries, contact Sanschagrin at email@example.com or 250-818-8253.