CANNING, NS - They couldn’t have had a more successful end to their playing careers with the Valley Bulldogs minor football club if it had been scripted.
The Bantam Valley Bulldogs recently won the Nova Scotia Minor Football League provincial championship with a decisive 46-15 win over the Halifax Argos at the Mainland Commons. They had earlier defeated the Timberlea Titans in the semi-final at Kinsmen Field in Canning.
Head coach Rob Suffron said the only time the team lost this season was the opening game, which was also played against the Argos.
“Playing them in the championship game was kind of bitter-sweet and we ended up being able to handle them quite easily, which made up for the loss earlier in the year,” Suffron said.
He said the team didn’t have many close games this season. The Bantam Bulldogs had a 359 to 41 for-and-against points record for the year. Halifax and Dartmouth were the only teams able to score against them.
“Up until the championship game, we hadn’t allowed any points since the second game of the season,” Suffron said. “We went seven in a row shut outs.”
He said the team members are hard working, incredible football players who live and breath the sport. They became dedicated and started focusing at a young age. He and his staff have been coaching some of them for seven years. The same team won the provincial Pee Wee Tier 1 championship two years ago.
Suffron said the players would practice two days a week then get together on their own time for extra conditioning and weight training. They had eight members who were part of the provincial team that won the Football Canada U-16 Eastern Challenge in Wolfville in July, defeating Ontario.
He said the players are great friends on and off the field. They’re together almost 12 months out of the year in some sort of athletic pursuit, working to make each other better.
“I’ve coached a lot of different players. I’ll never find another group of kids like this,” Suffron said. “It’s lightning in a bottle, they’re kind of once in a lifetime kids.”
Most of the players are moving on to high school next year, so it was incredible for them to win provincials in such a convincing manner. They’re used to winning but haven’t taken that for granted. The players have taken home five out of the last six provincial championships they competed for, whether it was Tier 1 or 2.
“If you work hard, it’s going to pay off,” Suffron said. “I think that, ultimately, that’s what they take away from it.”
He said the championship would help give the players the confidence to go on and play at the next level. Suffron has watched them grow up and is very proud of them.