Men­tor meets pro­tege in wild card

W.J. Mouat to face for­mer coach’s new foot­ball team, Notre Dame Jug­glers

The Province - - SPORTS - STEVE EWEN SEwen@post­media.com @SteveEwen

De­nis Kelly, the W.J. Mouat Hawks and the high school foot­ball play­offs can still go to­gether, al­though not as much to the Hawks’ lik­ing any­more.

The Hawks open the Sub­way Bowl post-sea­son with a wild card game Fri­day at Burn­aby Lake (7:30 p.m.). Kelly will be on the field, but run­ning the Notre Dame Jug­glers’ side­line.

Kelly helped start W.J. Mouat’s pro­gram in 1987 and in 28 sea­sons as their head coach guided the Ab­bots­ford-based squad to nine triple-A fi­nals, in­clud­ing wins in 1992, 2002 and 2005.

He left W.J. Mouat in the sum­mer be­fore the 2015 sea­son for an as­so­ciate of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor’s job with the SFU Clan. He took over at Notre Dame last sea­son, fol­low­ing a stint on the St. Thomas More Knights staff.

He faced off with W.J. Mouat two sea­sons ago as STM’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, but this is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal, what with Kelly in charge and play­off ad­vance­ment on the line. East Van­cou­ver’s Notre Dame (5-2) fin­ished sec­ond in the Western Con­fer­ence and played a tougher sched­ule, mak­ing them the favourites against W.J. Mouat (7-1), who took sec­ond in the Pa­cific Con­fer­ence.

“Is it weird? Yeah, it’s weird,” Hawks coach Travis Bell said. “Our play­ers would know of him and es­pe­cially our Grade 12s. I ref­er­ence him all the time. I talk about the cul­ture he in­stilled here, about the tra­di­tions that he started that they are a part of.”

Bell played at W.J. Mouat. He was a pro­vin­cial all-star de­fen­sive back in 2004. Much of what he learned in foot­ball he learned from Kelly.

Kelly is re­garded as the high school ranks’ pre­em­i­nent of­fen­sive mind, some­one who Bell said “typ­i­cally comes up with a whole new game plan ev­ery week … he’s ob­vi­ously very creative.”

Kelly also hap­pens to have high-end tal­ents at the skill spots at Notre Dame, led by quar­ter­back Will Clarke, the Western Con­fer­ence’s of­fen­sive most valu­able player, and run­ning back Teon Alexan­der-Amour, who was picked to the con­fer­ence’s all-star team.

Alexan­der-Amour was sec­ond in triple-A in rush­ing in the reg­u­lar sea­son with 1,057 yards, in­clud­ing 11 touch­downs. Clarke ran for nine touch­downs as part of his 561 yards on the ground. He also passed for 935 yards, with 11 touch­down tosses to just three in­ter­cep­tions.

“You can ex­pect any­thing,” Bell said.

Kelly tried to play down the idea that he might be break­ing into his vast ar­ray of gad­get plays on of­fence.

“As you go along, the thing you re­al­ize is that it comes down to block­ing and tack­ling,” said Kelly, a quar­ter­back at SFU in his play­ing days who was an as­sis­tant coach at Notre Dame be­fore sign­ing on with W.J. Mouat nearly three decades ago. “If you don’t block and tackle, it doesn’t mat­ter what you have in your game plan.”

Notre Dame also had line­backer Cameron Mah and de­fen­sive back Jer­rell Cum­mings picked to the Western all-star side. W.J. Mouat had five play­ers picked to the Pa­cific team: of­fen­sive line­man Con­nor Brin­son, re­ceiver Keenan Baker, run­ning back Nathan Hauser­mann, de­fen­sive line­man Ethan Erick­son and line­backer Ebiye Okoko-Chom­seng.

The win­ner be­tween the Jug­glers and Hawks will meet Satur­day’s win­ner be­tween Port Co­quit­lam’s Terry Fox Ravens (5-2) and North Van­cou­ver’s Car­son Gra­ham Ea­gles (2-5) in next week­end’s quar­ter-fi­nals.

STEVE BOSCH/PNG FILES

De­nis Kelly spent 28 years at W.J. Mouat but now coaches Notre Dame, who face his old team in a triple-A wild card game.

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