Week 6: October 12-13
Calum Hardie leads Titans with seven TD performance
Sackville-based high school clinches second place with 47-35 victory over Riverview Royals
Times & Transcript Staff
Published Monday October 15th, 2007
Appeared on page C1
Tantramar Titans head coach Dave Burns has been coaching in the New Brunswick High School Football League since 1990 and doesn't remember seeing a running back as dominating as Calum Hardie was on Saturday.
Hardie rushed for 375 yards and seven touchdowns on 28 carries leading Tantramar to a 47-35 win over the Riverview High Royals in 12-man division action in Riverview.
The win allowed the Titans (4-1) to lock up second place in the Eastern Conference with one week remaining in the regular season. The Royals (3-2) dropped to third place.
Hardie supplied all the Titans offence, scoring all seven touchdowns and also kicking five converts.
"That's probably the best performance on the ground that I've seen since I've been coaching," Burns said.
Burns credited Tantramar's offensive line -- Jamie Milner, Matt Fagan, Tyrone Brine, Kory d'Entremont and Jacob Bulmer -- as well as fullback Dylan Tower and slotbacks Mark MacDougall and Joey Burns for giving Hardie strong blocking all afternoon.
"Those inside seven allowed us to pound the ball against them and they just kept opening up hole after hole for Callum," the head coach said.
"Calum's an athlete. He's 6-feet and 180 pounds and he can move, he's got great speed. If he can get through a hole, he has that breakaway speed to get into the end zone."
Tantramar opened the season with a 20-0 loss to the defending provincial champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders. The following week, the Titans moved Hardie from slotback to running back and haven't lost since, reeling off four straight wins.
"After that loss to MacNaughton, we didn't seem to have the running game to take us to the next level. We had to make some changes," Burns said.
"We needed a premier back in the backfield so we could run the football and be powerful and the coaches all agreed Calum was the guy."
Riverview High trailed 20-7 at the half before getting its offence on track and rallied in the fourth quarter to make it close.
Running back Matt Turple ran for a pair of touchdowns and Matt Jay caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Anthony Sears in the loss. Matt Archibald kicked three converts for the Royals.
"We're pretty disappointed. We really thought we were in this game, but just couldn't stop the run. Physically, they really took it to us," said Riverview High head coach Guy Messervier.
The Royals have lost their last two games after starting the season 3-0.
They play the Harrison Trimble Trojans (3-2) for third place Friday at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
Also Friday, MacNaughton (5-0) visits the Mathieu-Martin Matadors (0-5) at 4 p.m. in Dieppe.
On Saturday, Tantramar hosts the Moncton High Purple Knights (2-3) at noon in Sackville.
In the 10-man division, the J.M.A. Armstrong Cougars clinched a playoff berth with a 23-21 road win over the previously undefeated Rothesay High Redhawks Saturday.
Alex Brown scored two touchdowns and Justin Hicks added another for the Cougars. Matt Solomon kicked three converts and Brandon Douthwright added two more in the win.
J.M.A. Armstrong improved to 2-3 while Rothesay High dropped to 4-1. The Cougars have a bye this week.
FHSers rule in inter-city grid fight
By BILL HUNT
Published Monday October 15th, 2007
Appeared on page B1
The annual North-South Bowl between the Fredericton High School Black Kats and Leo Hayes High Lions was supposed to be a real contest this year.
Not really. For the sixth time in its seven-year history, the Black Kats won the annual tussle between the New Brunswick High School Football League's cross-river rivals, rolling to a 21-0 victory that, appearances and assertions by Lions coach Lee Hoyt aside, wasn't really that close.
The Kats failed to score on a first and goal from the one-yard line and a pair of Zac Cann field goal attempts from 28 and 31 yards went for single points instead. Still, they had more than enough to turn back the toothless Lions, who were shut out for the second straight week and saw their Western Conference record drop to 2-2 on the season.
The Kats - the allegedly rebuilding Kats - ran their record to a perfect 4-0, shut out their opponents for the second straight week, and have outscored western conference opponents 94-10 this season.
So, when FHS quarterback Jeff Madsen hit receiver Tom Goggin with touchdown passes of 21 and 18 yards and running back Niels Thakkar dashed seven yards for another to lift the Black Kats - well, despite a relatively slow start that saw the teams in a scoreless tie after the first quarter and the Kats leading just 8-0 at the half, that would be plenty.
Madsen wound up completing 15 of 27 passes for 172 yards in all for the Kats. Understudy Brad Jones took over for one series and was 1-for-3 for 17 yards. Thakker - who played soccer for the FDSA Under 18 Caps at the national championship tournament last week - had six carries for 30 yards and a touchdown.
Kats got a break or two along the way too. On the drive leading to their first touchdown for instance, the Kats were working second and six from the Lions 36 when Madsen threw a pass intended for - well Goggin wasn't sure. But he wound up tipping it to A.J. Durling, who caught the deflection for a gain of 19 yards. One play later, Goggin was wide open in the end zone for the touchdown.
"Jeff Madsen played really good today," said Goggin, a six foot three inch target. "He made it really easy. I just had to stick my hands out and the ball was there."
Meanwhile, Lions quarterback Brendan Cornford and the offence sputtered: he completed just one of 11 passes for 35 yards and committed a fumble.
For a minute there, it looked like they would be OK. The completion, from Cornford to Tommy Broad, came on the Lions' first play from scrimmage, moving the Lions from their own 29 to the FHS 46 yard line. But they stalled out there, and never really got started again.
"I don't know. We didn't focus the rest of the game and let it get into our heads," said Broad afterward. "We had lots of chances and we didn't capitalize. We didn't focus on what we had to do."
On their next series, Broad was nailed in the backfield for a loss of 20 yards on an attempted reverse, the Kats blocked James Wilde's punt, and they were set up first and 10 from the Lions' 20.
Thakkar took it down to the doorstep on the next play with a 19-yard dash, but the Kats couldn't punch it across. The Lions took over on their own seven, and it was Broad to the rescue again: a 55-yard dash up the left sideline, and only a desperation tackle by the last man back saved a Lions touchdown. But two plays later they were forced to punt the ball away.
"You've got to use the momentum when you get it, and I don't think we did," said Hoyt. "When you're playing a good team like FHS, you've really got to do that."
Hoyt is adamant: he won't be changing quarterbacks with a single week to go in the regular season.
"We've got to work some things out on the offence and go from there," said Hoyt. "With Brendan, I thought there were some balls there that we should have caught. He's certainly our quarterback. I would never make a call this late in the season. I think he's getting the job done. I wouldn't say he's losing our games for us whatsoever. I think from a coaching standpoint, we just need to settle things down and simplify things."
The Kats have now won the last six North-South bowls, including the last three by shutout.
"It's a lot bigger than just another game," said FHS quarterback Madsen. "Just playing our rivals, it's a great time."
"I've never really experienced this game before," said Goggin, a Grade 12 student playing the sport for the first time. "It's awesome."
The Lions and Kats both complete the regular season with home games next Saturday: the Lions home to the 3-1 Saint John Greyhounds at 1 p.m.; the Kats hosting the 3-1 Oromocto High Beaver Brokerage Blues at 1 p.m.
The possibility exists for a playoff rematch between Leo Hayes and FHS in the quarter finals. If the current standings hold up, the Kats would host the Lions Oct. 26 at FHS.
Blues unleash multi-faceted arsenal
By MIKE POWER
Published Monday October 15th, 2007
Appeared on page B3
If you like high scoring football games, then MacKenzie Field in Oromocto was the place to be on Saturday.
And if you only had time to drop by for 15 or 20 minutes, then the third quarter of Saturday's game between Oromocto High School Beaver Brokerage Blues and Hampton hIGH Huskies would have quenched your appetite for pigskin fireworks.
The Blues rode their explosive quarterback 'Air Jordan' Heather and a ground attack that was a revelation to a 43-20 win over the visiting Huskies in N.B. High School Football League action in front of an estimated 300 fans.
In the third quarter, the two teams combined for 35 of the 63 points scored overall.
The win improves the Blues' season record to 3-1 and assures them of at least a spot in the west conference playoffs. The Huskies slipped to 0-4 on the year and joined the Simonds Seabees in being eliminated from the playoff round.
The 23-point difference favouring OHS could have been even wider but for a couple of Oromocto fumbles inside the Hampton 10-yard line, two field goal attempts that were just a hair wide and the Blues taking a knee rather than pushing for another score with the ball inside the Hampton one yard line in the final minute.
As it was, the 43 points they scored were plenty and how they scored them was pretty impressive as well.
Heather threw for 257 yards, 207 of those in the first half, going 10 for 20 in passing attempts. He was 9 for 13 in the opening half as he shredded the Hampton secondary, tossing two touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Heather's favourite receiver was Chris Hillier who caught five passes for 106 yards and one touchdown. The other half of the original 'Air Jordan' hook-up, Jordan Richards caught two passes for 81 yards and a major score.
But the eye opener was the Blues ground game, as good as it's been all season by far. Four Oromocto ball carriers rumbled for 242 yards and four touchdowns on 36 rushing attempts. Mitch Dingley led the charge with 162 yards on 22 carries scoring two touchdowns.
Also in the mix was converted lineman Ryan Hoyt who blasted up the middle for 36 yards on five carries scoring one touchdown, Nathan Heather, brother of Jordan, had 14 yards on three carries and one major while Jordan Heather had 30 yards on six attempts.
"It made a big difference,'' Jordan Heather said of the new overland approach by the offence. "I had a lot more time to throw. They (Hampton) had to respect our run and they couldn't stack up looking for the pass. It's a lot more fun to play with all the options you get in this offence.''
That was never more apparent than on the first score of the game. The Blues took over the ball on downs after Hampton had failed on a third down attempt on the OHS 15 yard line. Dingley ran for three yards to open the sequence and then the aerial circus went to work.
Heather hit Hillier for a 50 yard gain on the next play, then took the snap and fired a 31 yard bomb to Richards and finished the four play, 50 second, 95 yard drive with a nine yard strike to Hillier. Mat Richard kicked the convert for the quick seven.
"We've been getting closer and closer to this for a couple of weeks now,'' Heather said. "People were talking about what we would be able to do before the season even started, but it wasn't that simple. We had to get some guys healthy and work on getting a real running game. We think we can be even a little better than this.'' Richard was auto-Mat-ic going six for six in extra point attempts. He also booted a single point with a wide field goal attmempt.
Hampton got its points on a second quarter touchdown by Craig Buck on a 26 yard pass from Eoin McIntyre with no convert. In the wild third quarter Matt Henderson returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The convert again failed and Todd Floyd ran 33 yards for a major with Marcel Rochon scoring the two point convert.
"Giving up 20 points isn't a big concern on this day,'' said OHS coach Rob Wilson. "First of all, Hampton is a very sound offensive team. But more to the point, I had to use make a point to some of my guys on defence who were guilty of doing some things they shouldn't have done and that meant using some people in those positions who haven't played there all year.''
Published Monday October 15th, 2007
Appeared on page B12
Greyhounds gallop to huge victory
SAINT JOHN - Running back Caleb Jones scored three touchdowns as the Saint John High Greyhounds blanked the Simonds High Seabees 49-0 in Saturday's New Brunswick High School Football League action. Quarterback Jeremy McAulay also enjoyed a banner day, scoring a major himself and hitting receiver Nathan Munroe with a 40-yard pass that went for a TD. The rest of the offence was well spread out. Rob Fox returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown while Tim Jackson found the end zone on a 55-yard punt return. Kicker James Sudul booted five PATs and the Greyhounds also picked up a safety. In other action, the Oromocto High Blues humbled the Hampton Huskies 43-20 while the Fredericton High Black Kats blanked the Leo Hayes Lions 21-0 in the North-South Bowl.
Lions' Thomas gets one last kick at the Kats
By BILL HUNT
Published Saturday October 13th, 2007
Appeared on page B1
Jake Thomas grew up in a house full of Kats.
But he has the heart of a Lion.
You'll see it today when the 16-year-old defensive end/outside linebacker leads the Leo Hayes High School Lions into North-South Bowl VII against the arch-rival Fredericton High School Black Kats at 1 p.m.
"It's the biggest high school rivalry, probably in high school sports in New Brunswick," said Thomas, who also sees it on the ice as a member of the Lions hockey team.
"But the game is huge. If we win, we can still take first place. So we're not going to act stupid out there just because they're our crosstown rivals."
There's another New Brunswick High School Football League fixture in the neighbourhood as well. The Oromocto High School Blues host the Hampton High Huskies in a 1 p.m. kickoff at MacKenzie Field at OHS.
For Thomas, a three-year veteran of the Lions, this is his last kick at the Kats, if you will. He wants to win.
"It's probably the biggest game of the year," said the six-foot-two, 230 pounder. "This is probably our best shot at it. The two teams are very close."
Thomas, of course, literally grew up around the Black Kats. Oldest brother Josh -- now Jake's coach, since he's the Lions' defensive co-ordinator -- played for the Kats in the early 1990s and went on to a fine career in the Canadian university ranks with the Acadia Axemen. Brother Billy, next in line, was a stalwart in the Kats' backfield in the late 1990s.
"I remember when I was probably four or five, every day of the week I'd be going to FHS practices doing little drills like down and ups," said Jake, chuckling at the memory. "And then every Saturday, we'd drive to Acadia."
Now, he and Josh are in daily contact. Jake has missed just one practice in three years.
Josh doesn't cut him any slack, and that's fine with Jake.
"He's pretty hard on everyone," said Jake. "He wouldn't be any harder on me than he is on everybody else. I think he expects a little more."
No more than Jake expects from himself, however. After an 0-7 season on the gridiron last year, he looks at this year as a season of "redemption.''
"Last year was really tough," he acknowledged. "Now, if it's a close game and you're tired, and you want to quit, I think about that, and it gets me going."
Today, the scent of a legitimate shot at victory against the Kats ought to do it.
"They say they're rebuilding, but they're still number one," said Lions head coach Lee Hoyt. "We look at it as a good measuring stick."
The Black Kats are, ho hum, a perfect 3-0 on the season, outscoring opponents 73-10 in the process. The Lions are 2-1, but coming off a stinker -- a 17-0 loss to the Blues in which quarterback Brendan Cornford completed 3 of 19 passes and threw four interceptions.
"Nobody showed up to practice and it kind of showed," Thomas said. "I think we got kind of cocky. I think it was a good wakeup call."
"There's nothing wrong with a little piece of humble pie once in a while," Hoyt said. "It's what happens after the loss that determines what direction you go."
Thomas is probably heading west to continue his football career next year. An honours student with an 88 per cent average, he's already talked to recruiters from Queens University in Kingston, Ont. The Calgary Dinos have expressed some interest.
With rain in the forecast again today, Jake expects the contest to be a "ground-and-pound" game featuring the running backs from both teams. That's OK with Thomas.
"It keeps me in the game the whole time," he said.
Not that intensity or leadership is much of a problem where Thomas is concerned.
"He's a player every coach loves to have and every coach loves to coach," Hoyt said. "The genes run in the family, that's for sure. I see a lot of Josh in Jake. Neither one of them likes to lose. And if they're coming off the field, they have to be carried off the field."
Highlanders clinch first place
Trimble locks up playoff spot with shutout win over Mathieu-Martin
Times & Transcript Staff
Published Saturday October 13th, 2007
Appeared on page C4
Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders clinched first place in the Eastern Division of the New Brunswick High School Football League last night and head coach Ed Wasson knows the secret to his team's success.
"About 90 per cent of our players have come through the bantam program and that makes big difference,'' Wasson said after the Highlanders blanked L'Odyssée Olympiens 63-0 at a drenched and wind-swept Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
"It's a lot easier to coach when you've got guys who have already played football for four or five years,'' he said.
"All the teams would benefit from a stronger bantam program in the city. We've got to get more kids playing football.''
Highlanders, the defending league champions, improved their record to 5-0 while the Olympiens slipped to 1-5.
Dylan Hollohan, Tyler Stewart and Eric Rioux each scored two touchdowns for the Highlanders, who led 37-0 at halftime.
Scott Kelly and Thomas Blight each added majors while Blight kicked eight converts.
MacNaughton's defence also recorded a safety.
"It was a complete effort by our entire team,'' Wasson said.
"In those kind of weather conditions, the guys did some impressive things offensively,'' the Highlanders coach continued.
Meanwhile, the Harrison Trimble Trojans locked up a playoff spot by beating the Mathieu-Martin Matadors 35-0 in Dieppe.
Trojans have a 3-2 record and will finish no lower than fourth in the Eastern Division. The Matadors are 0-5.
"It's a good feeling for our players because that was our first goal this year,'' said Trojans coach Mark Teed.
"We wanted to get into the playoffs then take things from there because anything can happen in the playoffs,'' Teed said.
"I feel good about our team because we're getting better every week.
"Right from the start, our defence has given us a chance every game we've played. Now, our offence is stepping up and we're getting a great effort from everyone.''
Grade 10 running back Matt Seeley rushed for 15, 50 and 60-yard touchdowns for the Trojans, who led 21-0 at halftime.
Fullback David Flanagan and Tail back Robbie Dobson also had majors.
Driving rain and high winds forced the Trojans to keep the ball on the ground. They did not attempt to pass the ball.
Brett Lewis kicked all five converts.
League play resumes today when the Riverview High Royals (3-1) host the Tantramar Titans (3-1) in a battle for second place in the Eastern Division.
Regular season play concludes next weekend in the 12-man league.
In the 10-man league, the J.M.A. Armstrong Cougars (1-3) meet the Rothesay Red Hawks (4-0) today at 3:30 p.m. at Shamrock Park in Saint John.
Cougars can secure a playoff spot with a victory today.
Defending football champions stay focused
Highlanders still unbeaten with two weeks remaining in season
By Sean Hatchard
Times & Transcript
Published Thursday October 11th, 2007
Appeared on page D1
Ed McNally already has a New Brunswick High School Football League championship on his résumé and knows the road to a provincial title isn't an easy one.
Even if his defending champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders are making it look that way this season.
"Of course, you have to believe that you can win a championship and we're hoping to bring another one to our school this year. You don't want to expect anything less," McNally, the Grade 12 hard-hitting middle linebacker, said after practice yesterday.
"But at the same time, you can't jump past teams. Anything can happen in our two final regular season games and we have to try not to look too far ahead to the playoffs.
"The season's not done yet and we'll see come playoff time what we do have on this team and what we don't."
MacNaughton (4-0) sits atop the league's 12-man division Eastern Conference and has outscored its opponents 133-6 with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
The only other remaining unbeaten team in the province is the Fredericton High Black Kats (3-0), who are in first place in the Western Conference. The Highlanders defeated the Black Kats 10-7 in last year's New Brunswick championship game.
MacNaughton takes on the L'Odyssée Olympiens (1-4) tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
Also tomorrow, the Mathieu-Martin Matadors (0-4) host the Harrison Trimble Trojans (2-2) at 4 p.m. in Dieppe.
The Tantramar Titans (3-1) visit the Riverview High Royals (3-1) Saturday at 1 p.m. in Riverview in a battle for second place.
The Moncton High Purple Knights (2-3) have a bye this week.
Any doubt about who is the team to beat in the Eastern Conference was erased last week when MacNaughton defeated previously undefeated Riverview High 36-6 to take over sole possession of first place.
McNally, whose defence features eight starters back from last year's championship team, said he isn't surprised by the Highlanders' red-hot start to the season.
"I knew what type of athletes we had coming back from last year. We had guys like (running back) Dylan Hollohan and (quarterback) Scott Kelly coming back and we had quite a few guys returning on defence," he said.
"Our defence is noticeably strong. We've got speed, big-time speed. On offence, Scott Kelly is doing a great job at quarterback and we have some weapons. You combine the two and we've been able to do good."
MacNaughton features 18 players returning from last year's team, which upset previously undefeated Fredericton High in the New Brunswick championship game, just four days after four key players were injured in a car accident.
"You can't take anything for granted, that's what I take away from last year," said McNally, 16, selected the defensive player of the game in the provincial final.
"We had our starting quarterback, Eric Daigle, playing great during the season and then he was injured in the car accident and then Scott Kelly stepped up and filled in great. It's a long season and anything can happen."
L'Odyssée is coming off its first win of the season, a 21-0 victory over Mathieu-Martin, last week. It was the Olympiens' first win since they joined the league in 2005.
In the 10-man division, the J.M.A. Armstrong Cougars (1-3) visit the Rothesay High Redhawks (4-0) Saturday at 3:30 p.m.