Two football players from Bert Church High School are taking their talents to one of the top university football programs in Canada.
In December 2019, senior Chargers players Blaise Newberry and Dylan Sorsdahl inked their letters of intent to play for the University of Calgary Dinos – the defending national U SPORTS champion and a consistently dominant program in the Canada West conference.
“We’re really excited for them and the opportunities they have going forward,” said Chargers head coach Steve Larsen. “Going to a team that just won the Vanier Cup – it’s really something special for those boys.”
The two 17-year-olds played crucial roles for the Chargers in 2019, helping the team enjoy its best campaign in a quarter century. Bert Church ended the season with an 8-3 overall record, the team’s only defeats coming in two battles against the Cochrane Cobras – the six-time reigning Tier III champion in Alberta – and the Okotoks-based Holy Trinity Academy Knights – the Tier II champion.
According to Larsen, the Chargers’ success on the gridiron put the team on the radar of various junior and collegiate football programs, which helped Newberry and Sorsdahl get scouted.
“At the beginning of the season, we were talking about what we could do, as coaches, to help our kids get to the next level, after high school,” Larsen said. “One of the big things we talked about was that finding success with the program would make it easier for kids to get noticed.”
Sorsdahl, a two-way player who featured as a linebacker on defence and often as a running back on offence, was a passionate leader for the Chargers in his final year, according to Larsen.
“He puts a lot on himself to succeed and help the team succeed, so I think that was a big factor in what drove him to play as hard as he did and work as hard as he did in the offseason,” he said.
“With his size and speed, he was able to make things happen for us. He was very fortunate to get the coaching he did with the [Airdrie Raiders midget team] in the spring league. I think that really helped him grow into a more rounded player and more of a leader on the field.”
Offensively, Newberry was a headline-maker for the Chargers throughout 2019, leading the team in touchdowns as the starting wide receiver.
“[Newberry] works way harder than anyone I’ve seen,” Larsen said. “Every day, he thinks, ‘How am I getting better today?’ He spent all offseason getting stronger and faster, getting more explosive.”
A notable example of Newberry’s catching prowess came late in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) semi-final game against the Springbank Phoenix Oct. 18, 2019. With the Chargers trailing 16-10 in the final 30 seconds, Newberry hauled down a touchdown pass in the end zone, bringing the Chargers level.
“[Newberry] has got that mentality that whenever he’s out there, when that ball is in the air, it’s his ball,” Larsen said.
Chargers kicker Owen Cory went on to score the one-point convert, booking Bert Church’s berth in the RVSA championship game and the subsequent Tier II provincial playoffs.
Considering Dinos players typically red-shirt in their first year of university, Larsen said the two Chargers stalwarts will continue working on becoming bigger, faster and stronger in the lead-up to the Dinos’ preseason training camp next summer.
“Their athleticism and their commitment to putting in the work will help them stand out,” he said.