November 22, 2022

Alberta Bowl: Austin O’Brien making record appearance

The 2022 Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) high school football playoffs are turning into something of a revenge tour for the Austin O’Brien Crusaders.

Last Saturday (Nov. 19) in the Tier II North Championship at Clarke Stadium, Austin O’Brien beat the team that had knocked the Crusaders out of the ASAA playoffs last year, the St. Joseph’s Celtics, 47-21.


Now the Crusaders head to the 2022 Alberta Bowl at Shouldice Park in Calgary, where this Saturday (Nov. 26, 11:00 a.m. kickoff) Austin O’Brien will take on the Holy Trinity Academy Knights with the ASAA Tier II provincial title up for grabs.

And wouldn’t you know it, it just happened to be Holy Trinity that defeated Austin O’Brien for the Tier II championship two seasons ago, by a score of 35-3 at the Alberta Bowl in 2019.

“They were a really good team that year,” Crusaders coach Devon Hogan says. “They’re a really good team this year, so we definitely have our work cut out for us.”

The Crusaders have hit their stride this month, starting with a dominant 40-3 victory at Armstrong Field over the hometown Lloydminster Barons in the North Semi-Final on Nov. 12.

In their postseason rematch against St. Joseph’s, the Crusaders flipped the script from the 2021 North Semi-Final that saw the Celtics win decisively, 35-14. After Austin O’Brien’s defence made a massive redzone stand late in the first half to take a 22-7 lead into the break, the Crusaders’ offence scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter, effectively putting the game away.

“I think they really went in with a chip on their shoulder,” Hogan says. “This was the team that knocked us out last year and our boys felt that they had to earn their way to get their respect … They set the tone physically right from the get-go, and in November football, if you can set the tone physically it goes a long way to being successful in the game.”

While Austin O’Brien is a three-time Alberta Bowl winner and making its sixth Alberta Bowl appearance (and eighth total provincial final appearance), both records at the Tier II level, none of the current Crusaders have previously played in the ASAA final.

“I talked to some kids after the game, and it’s almost like they weren’t processing it yet,” Hogan says. “They were really excited, but they hadn’t yet processed the magnitude of going to a provincial championship game, which is pretty cool.”