Falcon receiver snares South MVP

Football: Three Okotoks players play in Senior Bowl

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 06:00 am

Okotoks high school football players and coaches were well represented at the Senior Bowl on May 21 in Edmonton. From left are South and Holy Trinity Academy Knight s head coach Matt Hassett, HTA defensive back Brandon Bellman, Falcons wide receiver Taylor Brooks and HTA defensive lineman Matt Thomson.
Okotoks high school football players and coaches were well represented at the Senior Bowl on May 21 in Edmonton. From left are South and Holy Trinity Academy Knight s head coach Matt Hassett, HTA defensive back Brandon Bellman, Falcons wide receiver Taylor Brooks and HTA defensive lineman Matt Thomson.
Photo courtesy of Diane Bellman

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A Holy Trinity Knight Academy football coach was on the losing end of a football game on the weekend and then he was actually glad when a Foothills Falcon was named the MVP.

However, this wasn’t a typical football game — it was the Senior Bowl pitting the best graduating football players in Northern Alberta versus those in the South, May 21 in Edmonton.

“Brooksie deserved it,” South head coach Matt Hassett from Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) said after Falcons wide receiver Taylor Brooks was named the South’s MVP. “He did what he did in the Big Rock Football Conference… he worked hard all weekend and was our biggest offensive weapon.”

Brooks finished the game with four catches, good for 33 yards, his longest for 20 in the South’s 23-15 loss.

“The catches weren’t so tough, but the yards after (the catch) definitely were,” Brooks said. “I was either getting hit right away or dodging players. Their (the North’s) defenders were really close on the receivers.”

He said he was fortunate to develop good timing with South quarterback James Thompson of the Bishop Grandin Ghosts.

Brooks said the Senior Bowl was an ideal way to end a high school career, which included a provincial championship in 2009, and being named the Big Rock Conference MVP in the fall of 2011. He will be a bigger favourite than I’ll Have Another at the Belmont to win the Falcons’ MVP award at the school’s awards banquet on June 7.

“I think the culmination of everything I worked for kind of came together at Senior Bowl,” Brooks said. “This was definitely an amazing experience.”

The award still caught him by surprise.

“A bunch of other players had a really good game too — (HTA’s Brandon) Bellman especially, I thought he was going to get it,” Brooks said. “When they started announcing who won, I didn’t guess me at all.”

Bellman played defensive back for the South. Although he covered the North’s receiver tighter than cellophane on a CD, it was a 95-yard kickoff to open the second half that brought the crowd to its feet.

“It was kind of like when we played Sylvan Lake,” said Bellman, who returned the second-half kick-off to the house against Sylvan Lake in the provincial playoffs last fall. “It was a good kick, I just stepped to the left and to my right and Hunter Turnbull made a great block. There was a wall of guys ahead of me and after that it was a footrace.”

An exhausted Bellman was brought down on the North’s five-yard line. However, the South was unable to punch it in as they fumbled on the one yard-line.

Bellman said although it was disappointing to lose, the Senior Bowl was a great experience.

“It was really good to see some of the guys you have played for and against one more time before we all go away,” he said.

He laughed at Brooks’ suggestion he should have been the South MVP.

“No,” he said with a chuckle. “Taylor deserved it. He played really hard.”

Hassett said his first stint as head coach of the South was a rewarding one.

“It was a challenge being the head coach — I have been the defensive coordinator, special teams coach and when I got the chance to be head coach I took it,” Hassett said. “It was a great challenge except for the outcome.”

Holy Trinity Academy defensive lineman Matt Thomson also played in the game but was unavailable for comment as the Western Wheel went to press. Bellman has signed a letter of intent to play for Hassett’s alma mater the University of Alberta — a team with former Knights offensive lineman Matt Johnson and quarterback Mark Oness.

As for the Senior Bowl MVP, he is putting his football career on hold to work for a year and then take two years for a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“It will be three years before I can play football,” Brooks said. “I guess we will see.”

bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca


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