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by Jenn Jedynak
Special to the Tribune

The weather wasn’t great, but the football action certainly was, as the North Bay Bulldogs Bantam and Junior Varsity teams took on the York Region Lions at Northern Secondary School in Sturgeon Falls on June 4. The two Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL) games marked the first time since the glory days of the SF Bombers, back in the 70’s, that elite level football was played on home turf.

Pouring rain gave way to an overcast sky just in time for the Bantam game’s noon kickoff, and the rain managed to hold off for the rest of the afternoon. With 25 percent of the team made up of players from the West Nipissing area, the Bulldogs chose to play their home openers here, to honour the community’s commitment to the football club.
West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage and Bulldogs Head Coach Marc Mathon opened the double header with a welcome speech followed by a bilingual rendition of the national anthem sung by Julie Joseph.  Radio announcer Steph Larouche lent his time and booming voice to introduce the players prior to each game. Two Bombers alumni, Merwin “Butch” Dupuis and Gaetan Ferlatte, were also on hand to lead the coin toss at the beginning of each game.

The Bulldogs’ well renowned BBQ, manned by volunteers, was fired up and grilling their standard fare along with tables of baked goods.
The Bantam Bulldogs, coming off a 55-0 win in their season opener in Toronto the previous weekend, were unable to defeat the Lions in front of the Sturgeon Falls crowd, taking a 41-6 loss.  Owen Webb had the lone touchdown for the Bulldogs. 

The Junior Varsity Bulldogs fared better, racking up a 39-14 win against the Lions.  The team is 1-1 for the season, having lost their season opener by a narrow 23-21 against the Metro Toronto Wildcats on their home field.

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Bulldogs kick off season with fanfare in SF