By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
OKOTOKS, Alta. _ Growing up in Katy, Tex., there was one thing that Bo Levi Mitchell wanted.
Mitchell told the soldout crowd how he wanted to be “a bee” during the Okotoks Dawgs annual banquet at the Foothills Centennial Centre.
“I wanted to be a Killer Bee, to play with Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros,” Mitchell said.
Biggio and Bagwell were both inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. They made post-season play six times: 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001 losing in the National League Division Series, the NL Championship Series in 2004 and the World Series in 2005.
The Astros needed another B ... a Killer Bo.
Mitchell quarterbacks the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League winning the 102nd Grey Cup in 2014 and the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 2016.
He did give baseball a try. As a 10-year-old he joined a travel team playing in Broken Arrow, Ok.
“The coach said ‘Bo we think you can help us win this World Series,” Mitchell said. “We went 0-7.”
His first football team went 0-12. The second year team was 1-11. Mitchell remembers being in Grade 8 and the coach telling him that he was being considered for a promotion to the first team.
The coach re-iterated “we were thinking,” and showed Mitchell his report card. He had failed science. So he was required to sit out for six weeks.
However, as a high school senior, Mitchell led Katy High Tigers to the Texas state championship with a 16-0 mark. Country singer Clint Black, NFLers Jorge Diaz, Terrence Frederick, Eric Heitmann, Ryan Mouton and actress Renée Zellweger all went to Katy High.
And do did Andy Dalton three-time NFL Pro Bowl quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. Dalton’s first glimpse of Mitchell, two years his junior, came at various diamonds around town. He and Bo’s brother, Cory Mitchell were part of the same baseball program.
“Andy played shortstop,’’ recalls Mitchell. “Awesome. I’m telling you, he was an amazing athlete. Good at any sport. Football. Baseball. You name it.”
Mitchell enrolled with the SMU Mustangs in 2008 and went 1-11 beating Texas State 47–36. On the season he completed 385-of-676 passes (57%) for 4,590 yards (241.6 per game) with 36 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
The next year, as a sophomore in 2009, he started SMU’s first seven games before Kyle Padron took over. Mitchell completed 56% of his passes for 1,725 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, as SMU started 3–4.
Mitchell then transferred to Eastern Washington University Eagles where he soared in 2010-11. He went to Eastern Washington hoping to play both football and baseball, but the school didn’t have baseball. For all those losses growing up he started winning at EWU and it carried on north to Calgary.
He took his Eagles to FCS National title, a come-from-behind 20-19 win over Delaware, the school’s first national championship on the grid iron. Mitchell the magician was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player throwing three touchdown passes in the final 16 minutes of the game and had 302 yards passing
In the 2011 season, Mitchell led the FCS in four statistical categories, including passing yards (4,009) and touchdown passes (33) breaking four school records. He broke EWU’s record for single season passing yards with 4,009, 17th in FCS history and fifth in Big Sky Conference history. Playing for the Cheney, Wash. school, Mitchell won the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the FCS and was Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
He earned berths on seven All-America teams in 2011: first team honors on six of them, named the top quarterback by The Sports Network, American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp, Associated Press, Phil Steele Publications and Beyond Sports College Network.
Mitchell is still a fan of the Astros, who won their first World Series title in October.
Who knows how many times they would have won by now had Mitchell chosen baseball?
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Academy Dawgs Awards
Jerry Bender Memorial Award — Tucker Zdunich (High River, Alta.)
Jim Henderson Dedication Award — Noah Penney (Fort McMurray, Alta.)
Dawgs Academy Player of the Year — Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.)
Kristi Laycraft Memorial award presented by Sarini Fine Jewellery to Bantam MVP — Dryden Howse (Calgary, Alta.)
Cam Christian Memorial Award — Jack Kenney (Calgary, Alta.)
Dawgs College Dawgs winners
MVP: Kody Funderburk
True Grit Award: Eddie Sanchez
Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Burdett.
Rookie of the Year: Matt Lloyd (Okotoks, Alta.)