Week 8: October 26-27
Thakkar top Kat in QF
By MIKE POWER
Published Monday October 29th, 2007
Appeared on page B1
After four minutes of play in Saturday's provincial high school football league playoff game, it was Niels Thakkar 14 and the Leo Hayes Lions scoreless. And that was that.
Thakkar, a running back for the Fredericton High School Black Kats scored a touchdown the first two times he touched the ball and finished the day with four majors in leading the Black Kats to a 43-0 win over the Lions in provincial quarter final play at FHS Field.
The Kats will now host the Tantamar High Titans of the East Conference in league semifinal action Saturday beginning 1 o'clock at FHS Field. Titans humbled Harrison Trimble High Trojans of Moncton 44-6 in Moncton Friday.
The other semifinal will feature Oromocto High Beaver Brokerage Blues playing at the defending provincial champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders of Moncton Friday night beginning 7 o'clock at Rocky Stone Park. Blues upended Saint John High Greyhounds 9-7 at Shamrock Park Saturday. Bernice MacNaughton blanked the Riverview Royals 55-0.
Saturday's game at FHS wasn't as one-sided as the score would indicate. The Kats were better because they took advantage of every opportunity and made every big play go their way.
And then there was Thakkar, a soccer player of note who used explosive speed to the outside to string out the Lions' defence and once he turned the corner, he was gone. Thakkar recorded three of his TDs on runs of 28, 38 and 48 yards. The fourth came on a one-yard sprint around the end of the line on a lateral from quarterback Jeff Madsen.
"We wanted to get the run established right away," Thakkar said. "We knew on a wet day like this it would be our best weapon and we wanted to run at them right away."
It worked like a plan.
Leo Hayes were backed up to their own one yard line on the kick-off and went three and out with the punt leaving the Black Kats on the Lions' 31 yard line. On the third play of the drive Thakkar exploded for a 38-yard run turning the corner to find nothing but green between himself and the goal line.
Zac Cann hit the convert and kicked off again putting the Leos deep in their own end of the field. Again, LHHS went three and out with a short punt leaving FHS on the Lions' 28. On the very first play of the drive Thakkar followed his blocks to dance through the line and run away from the defensive backs on his way to a 28 yard score, complete with the usual Cann convert.
And if that didn't do in the Lions, the next score did. After another three down and punt series, the Lions held FHS and forced the punt. Cann's boomer bounced over the head of a Lion kick returner who reached up but only tipped it off his fingers. Dan Richardson of FHS leapt on the live ball and landed with it in the end zone for a touchdown, stunning the Lions.
Cann went back to work to make it 21-0 with two minutes still remaining in the first quarter. "Getting down by 14 that quickly pretty much dictated the day," said Lions' coach Lee Hoyt. "Then they get another (touchdown) on specialty teams. We had dug ourselves into a hole that is pretty hard to get out of against a good team.
"Our guys didn't quit, they didn't give up, which is a high note to end on, but we just didn't get it done today."
As for FHS, with their rivals on the ropes, they needed to put them away and not make the mistake they made a week ago when they leapt out to an early 14-0 lead on OHS but let the Blues back into the game.
"We talked about that on the bench," Thakkar said. "We weren't going to make that mistake a second time. (Leo Hayes) is a good team and we didn't want to give them a chance to get back in the game."
The Black Kats put the game away in the second quarter, scoring 15 more unanswered points. Cann kicked a single on a field goal attempt that went wide, Madsen found Corey Janes in the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown and Thakkar struck again with five seconds to go until the half with a one yard scoring run to send the teams to the half with FHS up 36-0.
The only scoring of the second half was Thakkar's fourth TD of the day on the last play of the third quarter as broke off a 48 dash through the rain drops with Cann adding the final point of the day.
At Saint John, Jordan Richards scored a touchdown for the Blues, who also added a field goal. Tim Jackson's 80-yard kick return was Saint John's only major, while James Sudul booted the point after.
Titans, Highlanders headed to N.B. semis
Tantramar and MacNaughton are on a roll as they prepare for Western opponents next weekend
Times & Transcript Staff
Published Monday October 29th, 2007
Appeared on page C1
SACKVILLE - The Tantramar Titans earned a berth in the New Brunswick High School Football League 12-man division semifinals Saturday for the second straight year.
Calum Hardie ran for three touchdowns as the Titans thumped the Harrison Trimble Trojans 44-6 in a provincial quarter-final.
Tantramar visits the Fredericton High Black Kats in a semi final Saturday at 1 p.m.
The other semifinal will see the defending New Brunswick champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders host the Oromocto High Blues Friday at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
The winners will meet in the New Brunswick championship game Nov. 10 at Rocky Stone.
MacNaughton blanked the Riverview High Royals 55-0 in a quarter-final Friday night at Rocky Stone.
Tantramar, which finished second in the Eastern Conference with a 5-1 record, hasn't lost a game since the first week of the season.
"We're rolling along pretty good and seem to be pretty solid right now. Hopefully, we can keep things going for a couple more weeks," said Titans head coach Dave Burns.
"I think we finally have got the look we want. We've shuffled the deck with players a lot on both sides of the football, but I think we've got the players in the right positions now."
Jake Mundle ran for a pair of touchdowns and Mark MacDougall caught a 50-yard pass from quarterback Zack Fisher for another Tantramar score.
The Titans defence also recorded a safety and Hardie kicked six converts in the win.
"We wanted to play good football and we prepared for Trimble pretty good," Burns said. "We had a good day running the ball and throwing the football, too. Defensively, we played tough all day."
Jordan Kenny scored the lone Trojans touchdown on a 50-yard run.
Meanwhile, MacNaughton continued its march for a second straight provincial championship with a resounding win over Riverview High Friday.
The Highlanders, who won the Eastern Conference with a perfect 6-0 record, have yet to lose a game this season. MacNaughton scored a touchdown on its first possession when quarterback Scott Kelly connected on a 48-yard pass to Bryan Warner and never looked back.
Thomas Blight kicked seven of eight convert attempts and the one he missed was because of a bad snap. Dylan Hollohan also had a pair of touchdown runs (26-yard and two-yard) for the Highlanders.
Other MacNaughton touchdowns went to Ryan Goguen (30-yard fumble return), Mitch Caissie (seven-yard pass from Kelly), Kelly (one-yard QB sneak after 50-yard interception return by Cameron Wade), Max Robinson (23-yard fumble return) and Thomas Blight (27-yard pass from Kelly).
Highlanders head coach Ed Wasson was pleased the teams stuck to football, despite the lopsided score.
"It was a clean, hard-hitting battle," Wasson said. "We got some bounces early and that was the ball game."
In Saturday's other provincial quarter-finals, involving Western Conference teams, Fredericton High thumped the Leo Hayes Lions 43-0 and Oromocto High edged the Saint John High Greyhounds 9-7.
Meanwhile, the J.M.A. Armstrong Cougars finished the 10-man division regular season with a 34-7 loss to the St. Stephen High Spartans Saturday in Salisbury.
The semi sees the second-place Rothesay High Redhawks (4-2) host the third-place St. Malachy's Saints (3-3) Friday at 7 p.m. and fourth-place J.M.A. Armstrong (2-4) visit first-place St. Stephen High (6-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.
Saint John High falls in defensive struggle
Football: Hounds lose 9-7 to Oromocto High in quarter-final
Published Monday October 29th, 2007
Appeared on page B10
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John High Greyhounds' gridiron season came to a crashing halt on Saturday.
Plagued by an inability to generate enough offence, the 'Hounds dropped a 9-7 quarter-final contest to the Oromocto High Blues in New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association playoff football action at Shamrock Field.
Jordan Richards scored a touchdown for the Blues, who also added a field goal. Tim Jackson's 80-yard kick return was Saint John's only major, while James Sudul booted the point after.
"I'm very disappointed,'' Greyhounds head coach Dave Grandy said. "I expected a better result.''
Grandy's group finished with a 6-2 record this season. The only other defeat was a 35-6 setback to the Fredericton High Black Kats back on Sept. 28. Oromocto carries a 5-3 mark into Friday's semifinal against the Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone Field in Moncton.
The other semifinal has Fredericton High hosting the Tantramar High Titans at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Saint John High's hiatus was especially tough to swallow considering they'd already beaten the Blues 28-7 on Sept. 22. Saturday's game was a different game altogether.
"It was a good defensive battle,'' Grandy said. "We had our chances to score, but we just didn't convert those chances.
"It's playoff football and you have to come out and play hard on every down. They wanted it more.
"We had a great year. We finished second in our conference and we'll be back and ready to make another run next year.''
In other 12-man quarter-final action this past weekend, Bernice MacNaughton blanked the Riverview Royals 55-0, Tantramar humbled the Harrison Trimble Trojans 44-6 and Fredericton High crushed the Leo Hayes Lions 43-0.
In 10-man action, the St. Malachy's Memorial High Saints dumped the Harbour View Vikings 18-0, while the St. Stephen Spartans defeated the J.M.A. Cougars 34-7.
Saturday's 10-man semifinals include fourth seed J.M.A. Armstrong visiting top seed St. Stephen at 1 p.m., while the second seed Rothesay High Redhawks welcome third seed St. Malachy's at a time to be announced later this week.
Proudfoot situation puts rivalry in perspective
By MIKE POWER
Published Friday October 26th, 2007
Appeared on page B1
The New Brunswick High School Football League's Battle of the Bridge will be the second most important battle being fought Saturday afternoon at FHS Field.
When the Fredericton High School Black Kats and Leo Hayes Lions meet to decide which team advances to the next round of the playoffs and who goes home, the rivalry between the city's two high schools will be given a little perspective.
Primarily this will be the playoff opener for both teams -- the Western Conference pennant-winning FHS Black Kats, with a perfect 5-0 regular season record; and the fourth place finishing Lions, 2-3 in the regular season.
This quarter-final will decide who goes on to meet the winner of tomorrow's other Western Conference playoff game between the second place Saint John High School Greyhounds (4-1) and third place Oromocto High School Beaver Brokerage Blues (3-2) in Saint John.
The Black Kats come into the game on a roll having beaten the Lions 21-0 in their only meeting during the season; the Lions come in on a spin having lost three in a row and not having scored a point in any of them.
As for the perspective, that will come at halftime when the Black Kats pause to honour Canadian football great Tony Proudfoot a former University of New Brunswick standout with the now defunct Red Bombers (1967-71) and long time star in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions.(1971-79).
Earlier this year Proudfoot was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or as it's commonly known "Lou Gehrig's Disease." Because of the advance of the debilitating sickness Proudfoot has resigned from his teaching job at Montreal's Dawson College after 30 years and will give up his position as a broadcaster for the Alouettes at the end of the current season.
"The first real sign of this thing is that it affects your ability to speak," said Proudfoot's brother Chuck and an assistant coach with the Black Kats. "If you listen to the recent broadcasts you can hear him slurring his speech a bit. It makes a person sound drunk.
"it's actually why he had to come out and publicly announce he had it, the radio station was getting calls asking why this drunk guy was on the air. This (ALS) affects you in two ways; it hits your legs or your upper respiratory system which is what's happened to him."
The Black Kats will honour Proudfoot at halftime with among other things an FHS jersey with his number 23 on it. Of perhaps greater importance will be a financial donation made by the team to The Tony Proudfoot Fund, a fund created to support research into ALS at the Montreal Neurological Institute.
The Proudfoot family ties to the FHS team extend beyond Chuck's job as defensive backs coach. Tony's nephew, and Chuck's son, Taylor is also a defensive lineman with the Kats. And of course he wears number 23.
"Myself and Taylor actually used our bye week to go up to Montreal a couple of weeks back," Chuck said. "We went into the ALS walk that my brother had helped to organize and they raised quite a bit of money. He's using his media connections to help increase awareness into this disease." When the tribute was originally scheduled, Tony Proudfoot had planned to attend. However when a team dropped out of the high school league the schedule was re-jigged and now that won't be possible.
"We were going to have the fundraiser for the "North-South" bowl which we were due to host," Chuck Proudfoot said. "But the schedule got turned around and it was moved to Leo Hayes and last week there was a fundraiser for Mike Fitzgerald. So it will be this game.
"Unfortunately my brother can't be here. We were hoping that he could but he is in Calgary with the Alouettes that day."
But the reason for gathering will be the football game itself. Two rivals meet for one semifinal berth and despite the Lions' recent slide, Proudfoot isn't taking anything for granted.
"You can never take any team lightly in this league," he said. "Leo Hayes is an aggressive team and they always get up to play us. Lee (Hoyt) is a good coach and he will have them ready to play us. We just have to be ready for anything they throw at us. (Leo Hayes) is a little bit desperate right now and that can make a team dangerous."
Saint John High on a roll
Football: Greyhounds take on Oromocto Blues as the playoffs open up Saturday
Published Thursday October 25th, 2007
Appeared on page B11
SAINT JOHN - Almost a month removed from its only loss of the season, the Saint John Greyhounds open the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association high school playoffs on quite a roll.
Since falling 35-6 to top-ranked Fredericton Sept. 28, the Greyhounds are 3-0, with an offensive unit that has produced 126 points and a rough-and-tumble defence that has allowed just seven points in that span.
Now, the surging Greyhounds, 4-1 overall, face the 3-2 Oromocto Blues Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Shamrock Park in one of four 12-man division quarter-final contests on tap this weekend.
"It was great to see the guys respond like they did after the loss," said Greyhounds head coach David Grandy. "There are always question marks after you play a game poorly about why you played poorly. We reflected upon it and I think the guys came out and responded after that. The defence is playing great right now and they have been providing the offence with a lot of opportunities to score points."
Saint John and Oromocto met earlier this season, with Saint John pulling out a 28-7 victory at Shamrock Park on Sept. 22, thanks to a pair of special teams touchdowns from Tim Jackson. It was the sixth meeting between the clubs since the Greyhounds joined the 12-man division in 2004.
More notably, however, was the Blues 16-6 victory in Oromocto during the provincial semifinal round in 2005.
This time around, it figures to be different in terms of the Blues' makeup. While many high school teams run first and pass second, the Blues bring a potent air game into town, led by quarterback Jordan Heather.
"He is probably the best quarterback I have seen since I got to New Brunswick seven or eight years ago as far as fundamentals go," said Grandy.
"We have to put some pressure on him and make him make some mistakes. We also have to have good coverage in our secondary."
In their only meeting, Heather was kept in check, the Greyhounds special teams came alive and the Saint John victory was key in securing home-field advantage Saturday.
In the past three games, Saint John has used three or more turnovers from its defence to set up quarterback Jeremy McAulay and the offence.
McAulay, who was a safety and lineman last year, is progressing well in his first full season as a signal caller and gives the Greyhounds a real chance to advance in the post-season.
"We asked him to take the quarterback role for us this year and his leadership has been instrumental for us," said Grandy. "He is in there making big decisions and he is like a coach on the field in terms of some of the plays and adjustments he is making."
He's fronted by a senior group on the offensive line where Chris Zeuchner, Joe Belding, Jim Henderson and Nathan Collins could play their final game Saturday.
Defensively, a group led by Cole Savoie, Steve Glover, Kory Mabee, Tim Jackson and Jeremy Power are more than getting the job done.
"It has really started with our defence," said Grandy. "Our offensive line is opening some holes for the running backs and the running backs are running hard. The timing is coming along and it has opened up a bit of a passing game by having a strong game inside."
Saint John is actually 6-1 but two earlier wins were wiped out when the league adjusted its schedule when Kennebecasis Valley left the loop. Oromocto is 5-2.
In other action, MacNaughton hosts Riverview Friday at 7 p.m. while on Saturday, Leo Hayes travels to Fredericton and Tantramar entertains Harrison Trimble. Both of those are 1 p.m. starts.
Meanwhile, the 10-man division wraps ups it regular season with a pair of games.
St. Malachy's and Harbour View meet Friday at Shamrock at 7 p.m. while on Saturday, first place St. Stephen travels to Salisbury to meet JMA Armstrong at 1 p.m.
Shake-up helps put football Titans on top
Calum Hardie impresses in new job as running back
By Sean Hatchard
Times & Transcript Staff
Published Thursday October 25th, 2007
Appeared on page D1
Dave Burns calls it one of the easiest decisions of his coaching career.
After watching his Tantramar Titans lose their opening game of the season in the New Brunswick High School Football League, the long-time head coach felt a shake-up was in order.
The team moved all-star slotback Calum Hardie to running back for Week 2 and the result has been impressive. The Titans haven't lost since.
Hardie rushed for 916 yards and 20 touchdowns leading Tantramar (5-1) to a second-place finish in the 12-man division Eastern Conference.
"We looked back at the Tantramar teams that had won championships in the past and they all had a solid running game. That's what Tantramar football has been all about," Burns said last night.
"I have a great coaching staff with guys like Peter Hess and Scott O'Neal, who have played in Vanier Cups, and they are very offensive minded. It was a no-brainer to them that Calum was going to be the man. He was a big threat down the field as a slotback, but just give him the ball 20 times a game and you can see the difference. It turned our season around."
The Titans host the third-place Harrison Trimble Trojans (4-2) in a provincial quarter-final Saturday at 1 p.m. in Sackville.
The first-place and defending New Brunswick champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders (6-0) play the fourth-place Riverview High Royals (3-3) in another quarter-final tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
While Tantramar enters the playoffs riding a five-game winning streak, Harrison Trimble also finished strong. After starting the season with just one win in their first three games, the Trojans reeled off three straight victories.
Harrison Trimble head coach Mark Teed knows containing Hardie will be the key to getting past the Titans.
"Their running game has been dominant, that's no secret. Hardie has run the ball very well for them and we have to respect what they can do. But at the same time, our defence has worked hard all year to lead our team," Teed said.
"We know to be successful we'll have to stop their running game and that's a huge task, but that's what the playoffs are all about and I feel good about our defence."
Tantramar and Harrison Trimble have met just once this season, a Week 2 game which the Titans won 14-0, just days after four Harrison Trimble students were killed in a car accident and extra-curricular activities were cancelled at the school.
"I don't think they practised much that week and we expect a different team this time. I've been telling the boys all week to expect a classic Trojans-Titans battle because these are two programs with a lot of pride and tradition," Burns said.
"Trimble is a solid, well-coached football team. They aren't flashy, but are tough and gritty and have a running back themselves in Jordan Kenny who can be a game killer."
Bernice MacNaughton vs. Riverview High
The Highlanders and Royals were tied for first place and unbeaten in the Eastern Conference until their Week 5 meeting. MacNaughton won 36-6 and went on to complete the regular season with a perfect record in first place. Riverview High went on to lose its final three games and drop to fourth place.
The Highlanders have outscored their opponents 256-6 with the only six points against coming from the Royals.
Saturday's other quarter-finals involve Western Conference teams. The first-place Fredericton High Black Kats (5-0) host the fourth-place Leo Hayes Lions (2-3) and the second-place Saint John High Greyhounds (4-1) entertain the third-place Oromocto High Blues (3-2).
Meanwhile, the J.M.A. Armstrong Cougars wrap up the 10-man division regular season Saturday. The Cougars (2-3) host the St. Stephen High Spartans (5-0) at 1 p.m. in Salisbury.