Category: Team News

The Bulldogs roll past Ottawa in NFC quarterfinal

The North Bay Bulldogs overran the Ottawa Sooners in a Northern Football Conference playoff game at Mike O’Shea Field Saturday night.

Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jul 29, 2023

The North Bay Bulldogs outslugged the Ottawa Sooners 24-13 to move to the Northern Football Conference semifinals.

It was a tougher night than usual for the Bulldogs offense who faced the Ottawa defence for the third time this weekend. North Bay led 7-3 after the first quarter and then 14-3 at the half.

Ottawa broke through with a field goal then North Bay answered back with touchdowns from Heather to Jacob Steringa and Will Laporte.

North Bay scored on another passing play as Heather hit Andre Landry for a score and it was 21-3.

North Bay was up 24-6 and had the ball until Heather was stripped of the ball and Anthony Noel of the Sooners took it back for a touchdown. That made the score 24-13 and that was the final.

Ottawa did not score on offence and Bulldogs coach Marc Mathon said stopping the run was vital.

“We found ourselves in a bad situation as we looked at the stats and we were giving up over 200 yards a game rushing,” says Mathon. “We had to take our defence and shored things up. The guys came to practice and really focused on that.”

“Once we were able to stop the run and force them to pass our defence backs were able to make plays and we have the advantage,” says Mathon.

Mike Van Damme had a big game for North Bay. Van Damme is a defensive end who has played exactly four games of football in his life.

The South African native wanted to try football when he moved to North Bay. So far so good for the first-year player.

“I’m just here to tackle, they tell me who to hit,” says Van Damme. “My understanding of the game is limited. They tell me who to tackle, and that is all I can do now,’ says Van Damme.

The run and gun Bulldogs offence played a very different style on Saturday. It was more conservative than usual. Quarterback Jordan Heather says that was the plan.

“In the second half we were trying to work on the running game and burn the clock,” says Heather. “The last time we played them we scored too quickly, and it gave them opportunities to get the ball back, so we tried to run the ball and play a little differently,” says the Bulldog quarterback.

North Bay will be off next week and will likely be on the road the week after that in a semifinal game.

Original Article

The Bulldogs face a familiar foe this weekend in North Bay

For the third time this season the North Bay Bulldogs square off against the Ottawa Sooners. This time it is a playoff matchup in North Bay Saturday night.
Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jul 26, 2023

Saturday will be the seventh game of the season for the North Bay Bulldogs men and it will be third time in those seven games they have squared off against the Ottawa Sooners.

The Bulldogs were thinking it was going to be five straight two weeks ago when they jumped out to a 21-0 lead in Ottawa versus the Sooners. North Bay ended up losing that game 35-33, however, after Ottawa scored a last-minute touchdown.

The game had its ugly moments, as two Ottawa players received one- and two-game suspensions, respectively, from the Northern Football Conference after Bulldogs coach Marc Mathon sent video of a couple of plays from the game to the league.

Mathon said he isn’t concerned, however, about any bad blood between the two teams. He is more focused on getting his defence and special teams right after a meltdown of both in the Ottawa game.

“The keys for us are trying to limit their quarterback and heavy run attack,” said Mathon. “We also need to keep working on special teams.”

Jordan Heather threw five touchdown passes and three for well over 400 yards in the loss to the Sooners.

Heather told his teammates it is a huge week of practice to get ready for round three with Ottawa.

The Bulldogs quarterback runs the offence and looks forward to another shot at Ottawa. He said he knows what is at stake this Saturday.

“It is playoffs so that adds pressure to go out there and win,” said Heather. “The more prepared I am by watching film, the easier it comes. It was the only team we lost to, and we had that game well, but things did not go well with special teams. We have corrected those issues, I believe, so we are looking forward to beating them this weekend.”

The game takes place this Saturday at Mike O’Shea Field with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Original Article

The North Bay Bulldogs reel off 28 points to beat Sudbury on Saturday night

The Bulldogs started slow but finished fast to end their Northern Football Conference regular season with a 5 and 1 record after beating the Sudbury Spartans 42-21.
Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jul 23, 2023

It was a little tougher than expected for the North Bay Bulldogs on Saturday night. The Sudbury Spartans may have been winless entering their game with the Bulldogs at Cundari Field, but they did arrive to compete.

Sudbury led the Bulldogs 21-14 late in the second quarter before the Bulldogs scored twice in the final three minutes to head to halftime with a 28-21 lead.

North Bay shut out the Spartans in the second half, scoring two more touchdowns, and cruising to a 42-21 win.

North Bay finishes the regular season with a 5-1 record. Ottawa handed the North Bay side its only regular-season loss after the Sooners rallied from a 21-0 deficit to stun the Bulldogs 35-33 on July 15.

Marc Mathon, the head coach and defensive coordinator, commented on his team’s ability to shut down the Spartans after a tough start.

“I think the guys just got caught a bit off guard,” said Mathon. “They were trying to corral (Sudbury’s offence) instead of attacking. We just changed it to a more attacking defence in the second half and that made a difference.”

Veteran defensive back Kory Benoit, who had one of three North Bay interceptions in the contest, talked about the change in approach.

“We just needed to buckle down and play our game of football,” he said. “Just do what the coaches asked us to do. We were a little concerned but knew if we did our jobs, we would prevail.”

The Bulldogs turned the ball over early in the game and that aided Sudbury, giving the Spartans a short field.

Quarterback Jordan Heather said a few things contributed to the sluggish start but it was good to see his teammates find their stride.

“We had a backup centre in the game, our normal centre has been away,” he said. “We had a snap go over my head, it happens. We also had a fumble in the first half. We had football plays that just didn’t go our way.

“They came to play, and you have to hand it to them for that,” said Heather. “It took us a little bit to wake up. Once our defence started to click, we held them scoreless in the second half and our offence was also able to do our thing.”

Heather threw a whopping six touchdown passes in the game as North Bay racked up 480 yards of total offence.

The Bulldogs quarterback had an animated talk with the team post-game and said the Bulldogs need to bear down, as the games are only going to get tougher.

“You got to be at practice; you got to commit,” said the Bulldogs pivot. “A new season is starting. We have a chance to do something good here. But we need to have a good week of practice to take it forward.”

Nick Laporte caught two more touchdown passes on five receptions for 136 yards.

Jacob Steringa scored twice himself, finishing the game with 125 yards receiving on eight catches.

Fisher Bilz caught his first touchdown pass of the season and rushed for a season-high 75 yards.

The Bulldogs host the Ottawa Sooners next Saturday back at Mike O’Shea Field, with the kickoff set for 7 p.m.

Original Article

Spartans battle despite NFC defeat

Author of the article:Jeff Giffen | The Sudbury Star
Published Jul 24, 2023

Junior Labrosse has never been one to shy away from ripping into the performance of his players if the situation warrants, but the head coach of the Sudbury Spartans men’s team had little to criticize on Saturday night.

The traditional hard hat for player of the game went to all 25 guys, who battled for every inch in a 42-21 loss in North Bay to end their regular season in the Northern Football Conference.

The Spartans finish with a record of 0-6, which in most seasons would mean missing the playoffs, but a combination of the Toronto Phantom Raiders taking a leave of absence and the Oakville Longhorns being an even worse 0-6 team than Sudbury, with far more points against, means the locals will squeak into the post-season with absolutely nothing to lose.

They will visit the 5-1 Tri-City Outlaws on the road this coming weekend.

Work commitments and the injury bug left the Spartans seriously short-handed for the game against the Bulldogs, but Coach Labrosse was impressed with the attitude of those 25 guys.

“The guys battled … holy jeez … the entire game,” he said with pride. “We just ran out of gas, but we were able to play with them. Running backs played well, our passing game was there, we were able to score points — something we’ve struggled doing all season — and our defence came up with a few turnovers here and there, so all in all I’m really proud of the guys that went down (to North Bay).”

The Spartans surprised the Bulldogs, who finished second in the NFC, by jumping out to a 7-0 lead and it was a bit of a slugfest at the beginning with the teams going back and forth on offence. It was 14-14 after the first quarter and 28-21 at the half.

But a short bench eventually took its toll, with some guys having to play all three positions — offence, defence and special teams.

“It just comes down to war of attrition, our numbers aren’t there, injuries happen during the game and you’re looking at the bench and the guys know it’s next-man-up mentality,” said Labrosse, who admits it’s easy to say, but a lot harder to do. “For a person that hasn’t practised or played defence, to say OK, you’re going to go in and you’re going to play defensive back, you’ve got to cover this guy and learn the defensives schemes on the fly. And the same thing, wide receiver goes down, you’ve got defensive backs (filling in). You don’t know the passing tree, you don’t know the plays, but you know you’re going to grind it out, you’re going to listen and you’ve got to do it.”

It’ll be a tall task for the Spartans against the league’s top team next weekend. The Outlaws beat Sudbury 37-7 on July 15, and their points for and against on the season were 246-64.

But you never know.

“If we can come out like we came out (on Saturday in North Bay), if we come out like we did the first quarter against Tri-City (in the regular-season matchup), anything can happen,” Labrosse said of what appears to be an uphill battle. “It’s going to be tough, just because of the lack of numbers, guys get gassed. We’ve got to hope that a couple of injured guys are going to be good to go, that could prop up the numbers.”

While the whole team earned the hard hat on Saturday, Labrosse was impressed with Victor Paajanen’s two interceptions, some excellent receptions by Tyler Bell and the ability of quarterback Nick Rideout to move the ball with his arm and his legs.

Original Article

NOTE: This article was published before the NFC announced the Playoff Picture. Sudbury forfeits the quarter final game

Bulldogs look for ‘special’ finish against Spartans

North Bay regroups from Ottawa comedown, shores up onside kick strategies
Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jul 21, 2023

The Bulldogs men’s team tasted defeat for the first time this season in the Northern Football Conference when they coughed up a 21-0 lead and fell in Ottawa 35-33 to the Sooners.

North Bay should have an easier time at home this Saturday when they host the winless Sudbury Spartans in a game once again played at Cundari Field because their usual home, Mike O’Shea Field, is being used for a soccer festival.

What really hurt the Bulldogs last week was the play of the special teams. Ottawa recovered two onside kicks which gave them great field position and kept the Bulldogs offence on the sidelines. So, guess what they were working on at practice this week?

“100 per cent going to be addressed this week,” says quarterback and offensive coordinator Jordan Heather.

“Moving forward it has to be a focus for our team. We cannot leave special teams until a Friday (walkthrough practice) when we do not have the numbers out. We need to focus on what we must do and make it a priority.”

Would that mean using different players on special teams?

“Somewhat,” says Heather. “We must even it out, have a few more starters in there, guys who really know football that have played and know that situation. It is a scheme thing, and we do not practise it enough.”

The Bulldogs are playing a team that already handled pretty easily on the road and now they get them at home. If North Bay gets off to a big lead, they can give their backups some much needed playing time with the playoffs around the corner.

“Anytime we can get guys playing time that is the goal,” says Heather, who passed for five scores and more than 400 yards in a losing effort last week.

“Everyone pays to play here so we want to make sure we can get guys in and if we are up by a few touchdowns, it allows us to do that,” says Heather.

The Bulldogs’ loss really hurt as they were the only team in the Northern Football Conference without a defeat. Now at 4-1, North Bay is tied with two other teams with that record.

Head Coach Marc Mathon knows there are a lot of variables out there, but mission one is to win the game they are playing.

“The position could really change this weekend with Sarnia (3-2) playing Tri-City (4-1) and Sault Ste Marie (3-2) is playing the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) All-Stars (4-1) at home,” says Mathon. “We could end up in first if Sarnia beats Tri-City.”

First things first, says Mathon. “We got to do what we have to and win, and the chips will fall wherever they may.”

The kickoff is Saturday night at 7 pm.

Original Article