Pair of unbeaten Edmonton area high schools to face each other on the gridiron



AinlayFootball1019After preparing basketball star Uher Aguak for a full-service NCAA scholarship in New Mexico, the Harry Ainlay Titans now reap the benefit of another top high school athlete. Part of the reason for the Titans’ perfect 8-and-0 record is his brother Lwal, a 245-pound defensive end who was Ainlay’s player of the week in a 20-6 victory last week against the Paul Kane Blues. Aguak and his teammates, here lined up against the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds, will face a serious test against the Bev Facey Falcons next week with the city’s Tier-One title on the line. (Courtesy Harry Ainlay High School)

Report an error

Related Stories

Sooner or later in sports, the leaders in any category are bound to wind up going one-on-one or team against team. When the inevitable happens, all the claims — win or lose — are sure to be settled.

In Metro Edmonton high school football, this year’s most-consistent exchange of views concerns the unbeaten Bev Facey Falcons and the equally-unbeaten Harry Ainlay Titans. Their perfect 8-and-0 records will go on the line Oct. 28 — one week from Friday — under the lights at Foote Field.

Among the many who believe this could be a clash for the ages is Football Alberta technical director Tim Enger. In common with every other qualified observer, he recognizes the brilliance of fabulous Falcon running back Chuba Hubbard. He also understands that depth plays a major part in football — perhaps more in this sport than any other.

And the Titans have depth to spare. “Sometimes it’s fair to wonder if they could use more than one football at a time so all the good players could have a piece of it,” Enger recently joked.

Statistics, admittedly incomplete at the high school level, bear out his view. Quarterback Cody Olson has rushed for more yards than Hubbard although there is no comparison on the basis of yards-per-carry. Olson also ranks second in aerial yardage, having thrown more than twice as many passes as Ben Hannaford of Bev Facey, who will play the Paul Kane Blues this week, only a few days after the Blues absorbed a 20-6 defeat from Harry Ainlay.

Often overlooked in the legitimate furore over Hubbard is running mate Adam Powell, who has averaged more than 10 yards per carry in limited opportunities. Within range of the excellent Powell are Shamarr Booth, John Rosary and Tadi Swira of the Titans who — as Enger points out — cannot all handle the ball at the same time.

Each team has additional standards who have collected more than 100 yards on the ground or through the air, leaving Harry Ainlay defensive co-ordinator Tyler Greenslade with the valid point that defence wins games, too. He points to Lwal Uguak, a Grade 11 defensive end, as one of the keys for the Titans.

“He made two tackles and a sack to get us off the field at important times,” Greenslade expanded. “He is a tremendous leader and fans will likely hear more about him in the next 12 months, if they haven’t already.”

Part of Uguak’s value lies in his leadership. “He leads by example and he’ll also speak up at the right time. He has a tremendous football IQ … his understanding of the game means there may be almost no limit to what he can do as he moves forward.”

While the Falcons face Paul Kane this week, Harry Ainlay gets a bye, more time to prepare for this intriguing contest.

Greenslade, a member of head coach Brock Ralph’s excellent staff, made it clear there should be plenty of work to fill the available time.

Harry Ainlay Titans football team launches Rick Campbell Leadership Award



RickCampbell0710Rick Campbell, head coach with the Ottawa RedBlacks. FILE PHOTO

After over 30 years of coaching high school football, one player in particular sticks out for Edmonton city councillor Bryan Anderson — the Ottawa RedBlacks’ head coach, Rick Campbell.

“Rick was no superstar but he was technically excellent at any position we asked him to play,” said Anderson, recalling the days in the late 1980s when he coached Campbell during his tenure with the Harry Ainlay Titans in southwest Edmonton.

“He played slot back, wide receiver, tail back, and even defensive halfback because he was also able to think the game well from a defensive standpoint as well as from an offensive standpoint.”

Anderson recalls a situation during Campbell’s Grade 12 year when both of the Titans’ starting quarterbacks left the team, and there was only one player left the coaching staff could turn to, and it was Campbell.

“I called Rick in and explained him the situation, and all he said was ‘let’s get started.’ This is the kind of leadership he had,” said Anderson.

In fact, it’s moments like that led to the Harry Ainlay Titans to introduce the Rick Campbell Leadership award.

“Our coaching staff felt that acknowledging a player who exemplifies the core values of what it means to be a leader was as important as recognizing our most outstanding players,” said Harry Ainlay Titans football assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, Tyler Greenslade.

“In conversation with long-time Harry Ainlay coach Bryan Anderson Rick’s name came up ... Bryan thought that Rick’s willingness to do whatever was required of him as a player and his general character as a leader set him apart from some of the other names.”

The first recipient of the Rick Campbell Leadership award will be announced at the Harry Ainlay football banquet on Monday, Nov. 30.

But when it comes down to Sunday's Grey Cup game between Campbell's RedBlacks and Edmonton's Eskimos,  Anderson says he'd rather see the Eskimos win, but he wouldn't be entirely upset if they didn't.

“If the Eskimos win, hooray, I love them,” said Anderson. “But if they lose, I get a consolation prize.”

Meanwhile, the Titans themselves are all-in with the home team.

"Head coach Brock Ralph is a former Eskimo and Adarius Bowman has spent time in the past coaching the Harry Ainlay Titans football team so I think I can speak for our group when I say we are Eskimos all the way," said Greenslade.

The 103rd Grey Cup goes live Sunday, Nov. 29 from Investor’s Group Field in Winnipeg, MB.