Week 1: September 5-6
|MacNaughton Highlanders’ Blake Stewart is out of reach of Les Olympiens de L’Odyssée’s Michel LeBlanc and Alexandre Cormier (24) as he runs into the end zone for a touchdown yesterday during the first half at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.||Riverview High Royals' quarterback Jon Stevens loses the ball as he gets knocked out of bounds by Tantramar Titans' Max Milner (9) and Mark MacDougall at Riverview High School yesterday.|
Royals turn back Titans
Highlanders, Trojans also record Week 1 football winsBy Sean Hatchard
Published in the Times-Transcript on Sept. 6
Appeared on page D1
No one needs to remind the Riverview High Royals that football championships aren't decided in September.
Rookie running back Brett McNeil ran for four touchdowns leading Riverview High to a 43-14 victory over the visiting Tantramar Titans yesterday on the opening day of the New Brunswick High School Football League season.
The Royals won their first game of last season, too, and ended up starting the 2007 campaign perfect at 3-0. But they never won another game the rest of the way and bowed out with a quarter-final loss to the eventual New Brunswick champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders.
"We're pretty happy with our game, it's a pretty good start, but I'm not going to predict we're going to finish first or anything like that," said Riverview High head coach Guy Messervier.
"Last year we started 3-0 and then everything fell apart on us. That was our message to our kids after the game: 'This is great and everything, but when we come back on Monday, we're going back to work because we have a lot to work on. We won't be thinking about this win.'"
In other Eastern Conference games yesterday, Bernice MacNaughton hammered the l'Odyssée Olympiens 55-0 at Rocky Stone Memorial Field and the Harrison Trimble Trojans blanked the Mathieu-Martin Matadors 49-0 in Dieppe.
In Riverview, McNeil made his high school football debut a memorable one, finding the end zone four times and racking up about 150 yards on the ground.
The Royals and Titans were tied 14-14 at halftime, but Riverview High blew the game wide open with four second-half touchdowns.
McNeil, a Grade 11 running back making the jump from last year's Maritime bantam champion Riverview Royals, scored two of his four touchdowns on 45-yard scampers.
"Brett's a bit of a slasher. He does have some speed, but he keeps his shoulders square when he runs. He's got a different running style and hopefully this is a sign of things to come," Messervier said.
Other Royals scores came on a nine-yard run from Tim Jay and a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jon Stevens to Anthony Pickard. Matt Archibald kicked a 25-yard field goal and four converts in the win.
The Riverview High defence gave up just one big play -- a 105-yard touchdown pass from Tantramar quarterback Zack Fisher to Mark MacDougall in the second quarter. The Titans also scored on Jacob Bulmer's 50-yard fumble recovery. Chris Wheaton kicked two converts in the loss.
"We just ran out of steam. We had low numbers in training camp, but got a bunch of people to come out just this week," said Tantramar head coach Scott O'Neal.
"We're not disappointed. We finally have a reference point to see where we are. We have a young team with nine rookie starters on offence and 10 rookie starters on defence, but we'll be back."
Highlanders 55 Olympiens 0
At Rocky Stone, quarterback Scott Kelly rushed for a pair of touchdowns and MacNaughton opened defence of its provincial title with a win over l'Odyssée.
Blake Stewart, Thomas Blight, Jordan Haley, Eric Rioux and Blake Williams also ran for Highlanders touchdowns while Blight kicked two field goals and six converts for the winners. Defensive lineman Ben Leger and linebackers Cole Ryder and Cory Phinney led the MacNaughton defence.
"This first game allowed us to get a lot of players in and to identify some things we have to work on," said Highlanders head coach Ed Wasson.
"I thought our offensive line played a really good game and our skilled players did what they needed to do when they got the opportunity."
Trojans 49 Matadors 0
In Dieppe, new running back Matt Turple ran for four touchdowns as Harrison Trimble rumbled over Mathieu-Martin.
Turple, who transferred from Riverview High, finished the day with about 150 rushing yards.
"He's our Grade 12 running back and he performed accordingly," said Trojans head coach Mark Teed. "He's pretty versatile. He's got the speed to go outside, but he's a tough little character who can run the middle, too."
Mac Mazerolle, Chris Cornect and Grade 9 running back Brett Robart also ran for touchdowns in the victory. Kanye Estacha was 7-for-7 in converts for Harrison Trimble.
Teed was also impressed with the play of his defence, especially linebacker Cornect, who registered 15 tackles.
|Kennebecasis Valley Crusader defender Nick Sipprell, left tackles Harbour View's Josh Dorcas and forces a fumble that was recovered by the Crusaders during an exhibition game Friday.||Kennebecassi Valley Crusaders coach Eugene Belliveau, left, goes over plays with his team before a exhibition match against Harbour View High School on Friday.|
KVHS rebuilding project right on track with former CFLerBy Scott Briggs
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Sept. 6
Appeared on page C7
SAINT JOHN - With a 31-0 lead and just 1:05 remaining in the game, the Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders were well on their way to a pre-season high school football win over the Harbour View Vikings Friday night at Millidgeville Field.
And although the outcome was all but official, Crusaders head coach Eugene Belliveau continued to work with players on the sidelines, explaining what they did well and what could have been done better.
When the contest was over, the celebration was brief. Belliveau told his squad there would be a post-game prayer with Harbour View players. After that, there would be a brief team meeting. The Crusaders appear to have a balance between having fun and maintaining a business-like approach.
The turnaround is impressive considering the KVHS team folded two games into last season. But with the help of a new coaching staff and the players' unbridled enthusiasm, Belliveau has breathed new life into the program.
"We're on a journey,'' said Belliveau, who played 10 seasons as a defensive lineman in the Canadian Football League with Montreal and Calgary. "We started two weeks ago.
"We cleaned out our old locker room and repainted it, and KV pride is coming back. It's a symbol that we're here to stay. We lost our team last year and we're rebuilding.''
That process started shortly after the program died last year. Belliveau arrived on the scene and started looking forward instead of lamenting about the past.
"At the end of the season, I held some meetings in the school with the players and talked about the tradition that KV had and how it was almost embarrassing to lose the team,'' the coach said. "Amongst themselves, they built up the spirit and they started pulling each other to meetings.''
The Crusaders are in a tough division with Fredericton High School, Leo Hayes, Oromocto, Hampton and Sussex. Friday night, however, the only thing that mattered was that KV was on the field in their royal blue jerseys and silver helmets, making a statement that the program is healthy again. The Crusaders' other pre-season action was an 18-0 scrimmage win over the Rothesay High Red Hawks.
"It's all about pride, it's about conditioning, it's about having fun,'' Belliveau said. "It's always a team effort and we're not relying on just one person.
"We're spreading the ball around to everybody, and everybody is getting a chance to do their thing. They're playing excellent as a team right now. I'm very pleased.''
As a former CFLer, Belliveau brings instant credibility. The native of Clark City, Que., is also a constable with the Rothesay Police Force, as are assistant coaches Shawn Coughlan, Jason Murray, Matt Marsh and Aaron Haynes. Two other assistants - Chika Ikejiani and Jeff Wilson - are both auxiliary police officers. Deputy chief Steve Palmer is the parent-player coordinator.
"The kids are taking us very seriously,'' said Belliveau. "We have a good sense of humour, but I think we're getting a lot of respect and a lot of rapport with these kids.
"It's community policing. We're teaching the kids discipline, athletic skills, confidence building and self-esteem building. I think the parents will come to realize we're molding a really good bunch of guys here.''
While Belliveau realizes KVHS is in a competitive conference, he's excited about the team's potential.
"If we keep improving every week, we might surprise some people this year,'' he said. "We're extremely pleased with the talent we have.''
The Crusaders open the regular season a week from today in Oromocto at 1 p.m. In Friday night's win, touchdowns came from Nick Sipprell, Mike Roy, Matt Rogers and Chris Landers. Ben Young booted a field goal and chipped in with a point-after. The rest of the offence came courtesy of a touchback and a point-after from Nathan Edwards.