Minor – Annapolis Valley Minor Football Continues to grow

Valley Minor Football celebrated another successful season (its 12th) at its annual awards celebration Dec. 2 in Canning.

This year, the Atom Bulldogs advanced to the provincial Tier 1 final, where they dropped a close 6-0 decision that failed to tarnish a great season: they won five straight games, two of them over top-ranked Bedford.

The Peewee Bulldogs qualified for the Tier 2 playoffs in a rebuilding year and, though the Bantams finished with a losing record, they lose very few players and should be among league leaders next season.

According to head coach Dave Ross, the Atom Bulldogs “learned how to be a team, learned respect, learned to never give up and learned how to be accountable – and that they all have a job to do.”

Following a 1-3 start, the Atoms reeled off five wins in a row to reach the provincial final.

“They learned how to work together as a team, set their expectations high and then met them,” Ross said.

Atom awards were presented to Caleb Melanson as Rookie of the Year, Marcel Bolland as Most Improved Player, Isaac Melanson and Connor Ross as co-Offensive MVPs and Alex Hazel as overall Team MVP.

The Peewee Bulldogs, according to assistant coach Reg Ogilvie, featured “six true rookies” who had never played football before, “15 first year Peewees,” including two Atom-age players who moved up, and just nine players with previous Peewee-level experience.

Nonetheless, the team finished with a 4-4 record and qualified for the Tier 2 playoffs.

“Everything they did, they did as a team,” Ogilvie said. “We asked them for a commitment, and they gave it to us.”

Peewee head coach Larry Priestnall made mention of the large number of ex-Bulldogs now playing high school football in the Valley.

“Horton finished (the regular season) at 7-1, ranked second in Tier 1. Central Kings won the Tier 2 provincial championship, and NKEC has a strong program, even though they had a losing season this year.”

In addition, seven Bulldog players ,as well as Priestnall and Steve Melanson as coaches, were all part of the provincial U-17 team and took part in the Football Canada Cup competition.

Priestnall said, this year, there will be U-18, U-17 and U-15 provincial teams, meaning even more opportunities for young Valley players to compete at an elite level.

Peewee awards went to Kirklyn Levy as Most Improved, Grady Brooks and Allan Bond as Rookies of the Year, Jacob Melanson as Top Lineman, Eric Main as Top Defensive and Jacob Shepherd as Top Offensive Player.

The Bantam Bulldogs, according to first-year head coach Liam Reed, “may not have had the prettiest record in terms of wins and losses, but the season was a great learning experience for all of us.”

The Bantams entered with “not a whole lot of players with Bantam experience” but, at the same time, “every single practice, you could see them getting better and better.

“Dedication and effort,” he suggested, “is the difference between a losing team and an improving team.”

Bantam awards were presented to Nick Gerrard as Most Improved, Kyle MacMullin as Top Offensive Player, Mike Boylen as Top Defensive Player, Nathan Walsh as Unsung Hero, Justin Murphy as Top Lineman and Zack Daigle and Zack Gouthro as the team’s co-MVPs.

Source: BY JOHN DECOSTE Kings County Advertiser

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