Week 3: September 19-20
|Kat on the prowL: Try as he may, Oromocto High Blues running back Mitchell Player is unable to outrun defender Tony Nash of FHS Black Kats during this sequence in Saturday’s provincial high school football league game at FHS field. Nash had a couple of turnovers as the Kats prevailed, 37-23.|
Grid Kats 'Downe' Blues in 'must win'By Bill Hunt
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Sept. 22
Appeared on page B3
As the Oromocto High School Blues discovered Saturday, you can't keep a good man - or his football team - Downe.
Defensive back Patrick Downe picked off a Jesse Rae pass and returned it 50 yards for what proved to be the winning score in the Fredericton High School Black Kats' 37-23 win over the Blues in New Brunswick High School Football League action at FHS Field Saturday.
In action at Quispamsis, St. Mary's Leo Hayes Lions improved to 2-0 with a 26-13 win over Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders, fighting back from a 13-point deficit.
In a game that had scoring gusts to go with the 28-kilometer breezes out of the south, the Kats surged to a 22-0 first quarter lead. And the Blues, working with the wind in the second quarter, answered with 16 of their own.
The Blues had the wind at their back in the third quarter, and perhaps trying to make hay while the sun shone, and the wind blew, Rae, the Blues' first-year quarterback, was picked off three times in the 15 minute period, stifling any attempt to close the gap further.
"We were trying to take advantage and it just didn't go our way," said Rae, the first year quarterback pressed into service when Nathan Heather, the man the Blues had been counting on to call the signals this season, was hurt in the preseason.
"Turnovers killed us," he said.
None was more expensive than Downe's interception late in the third. He stepped in front of a pass intended for Blues' tight end Andrew Harris and scooted down the left sideline for the major. "I got a little lucky," said Downe, who didn't have much time for a detailed analysis, since he had a hockey game to play with the Darcy Simon Midget AAA Canadiens three hours later.
"I tipped it with one hand and it came down right in my hands. You couldn't ask for anything better than that. It was big. We were only winning by one touchdown so that brought us back up."
"The wind makes a big difference," said Kats coach Mike Casey. "We made a decision before we took the toss that we wanted the wind in the fourth quarter. We weren't too concerned about having to play from behind. The first quarter proved that we can move the ball."
Quarterback Jeff Madsen pretty much shredded the Blues' defense early as the Kats stunned the Blues with their early efficiency. Take the first series for instance: the Kats kicked off to the Blues, who set up first and 10 from there own 35. Running back Mitchell Player of the Blues fumbled the handoff on the first play with linebacker Josh Price recovering for the Kats. Two plays later, Madsen hooked up with receiver A.J. Durling on a 28-yard touchdown.
On the next series, Madsen hooked up with Durling on a 20-yarder to set the Kats up on the Blues' 22. Blues appeared to have them stalled on the 14 and the Kats sent out the field goal unit. But they faked it, and Charles Duplessis took it in from 19 yards out. Brent Johnson scored a two-point convert: 15-0.
Madsen to Johnson on a bomb down the right sideline that covered 75 yards set the Kats up first and goal from the two on their next possession. Madsen took it from there. The Johnson convert made it 22-0 and it looked like it might be a long afternoon for the Blues.
But, not so fast. The change of ends brought a change of fortunes.
Now it was Rae, mounting a drive that moved the Blues smartly from there own 32 with four straight completed passes capped off by a 28-yard strike to Josh Vance from the shotgun. A two-point convert made it 22-8 Kats.
More Rae surgery on the Kats' secondary - and an expensive penalty for roughing the passer that kept the drive alive - led to the Blues' second touchdown, a nine-yard pass from Rae to Rob Goodwin. A convert and a wide field goal attempt that went for a single made it 22-16 Kats.
Then came that fateful third quarter. Tony Nash, who had a strong game on the defensive side of the ball, picking up a fumble, picking off a pass and generally being around the ball all day, Jason El-Khoury and Downe all picked off passes that stopped the Blues in their tracks.
"We caught on after a while and played more of a zone," said Downe. "Our DB's (defensive backs) played really well today after we learned what they were playing."
The teams traded fourth quarter touchdowns: Jeff Khoury finding a hole and rumbling 53 yards for a Kats major that, with the convert made it 37-16; and the Blues scoring after a broken play set it up.
Heather, back to punt the ball away for the Blues, got a bad snap from center and was forced to improvise. He went with his instincts, and, sore ribs or not, aired one out to Josh Blanchard that covered 45 yards, with another 15 yards tacked on for unnecessary roughness. Eventually, it led to a seven-yard touchdown run for Mitchell Player, but it was too little, too late for the Blues.
Casey said the Kats approached this one as a 'must win' even in Week 2 of the schedule.
He said the turning point of the game came "before we walked on the field. The kids were up. The kids knew that today was a 'must win' situation. We've been talking all week that, if you want to make the playoffs, you have to go 4-1," said Casey.
Both the Kats and Blues are now 1-1 on the season in the south west division standings. The Lions, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 on the year with their win over the 0-2 Crusaders. Hampton Huskies also remained unbeaten with a 49-7 win over the 0-2 Sussex Sonics.
In Quispamsis, Lions' quarterback Nathan Greenbank connected on a pair of touchdown passes to Cody Stewart to lead Leo Hayes. Damion Dutrisac ran in from five yards for another major. Jake Briggs intercepted two Crusaders passes late in the game to preserve the victory.
|Tantramar Titans Charles Dunn, left, brushes off Harrison Trimble's Jon Daley as he avoids a tackle during the first half at Tantramar Regional High School on Saturday.|
Tantramar Titans turn back Trojans 35-17
Published in the Times-Transcript on Sept. 22
Appeared on page B1
SACKVILLE - They may be young, but there appears to be plenty of fight in the Tantramar Titans.
The Titans exploded for 26 second-half points en route to a 35-17 victory over the Harrison Trimble Trojans in New Brunswick High School Football League action here on Saturday.
Tantramar improved its record to 2-1 in the Eastern Conference while Harrison Trimble dropped to 1-2.
The teams were tied 9-9 at halftime.
"We're really proud of our team. With a lot of young players, they could have easily packed it in and that was my message to them at halftime," said Titans head coach Scott O'Neal.
"I told them to come out with some pride and go for the victory and that's what they did. I think we learned a lot about our team. They showed they can deal with adversity and play with pride."
Running back Chris Wheaton ran for about 120 yards and one touchdown and also kicked three converts to spark the Tantramar offence. The Grade 12 veteran found the end zone on a four-yard run.
"It was probably his best day as a Titan. He ran, he blocked, he did everything for us," O'Neal said of Wheaton.
Running back Tyler Nadolny also rushed for a pair of touchdowns on a 15-yard run and 25-yard reverse play for the Tantramar. Quarterback Zack Fisher hooked up with receiver Mikael Peters for a 65-yard touchdown pass and Mark MacDougall also scored on a five-yard run in the win.
"We came out flat as anything and Harrison Trimble being Harrison Trimble, they're a tough team and they kept fighting," said O'Neal, who was impressed with the play of linebacker Max Milner.
"We made a few adjustments in the second half and our defence played its best game of the season and we were able to shut them down in the second half."
Trojans running back Matt Turple had a 20-yard touchdown run and quarterback John Toogood connected with Miguel Vercheure 70 yards for another score. Toogood also scored a two-point conversion in the loss.
"Tantramar has a pretty powerful running game and we just weren't aggressive enough defensively to stop the run," said Harrison Trimble head coach Mark Teed. "We have to work on consistency and cut down on our penalties and mental mistakes and not beat ourselves."
In Southwestern Conference games Saturday, the results were: St. Stephen High Spartans 61, Harbour View Vikings 0; Leo Hayes Lions 26, Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders 13; Fredericton High Black Kats 37, Oromocto High Blues 23.
Spartans dominate gridiron
|Odyssee Olympiens Guy Zemingui gets an arm under the chin as he tackles Riverview Royals Nico Sokolowski during the first half at Rocky Stone Memorial Field yesterday.|
Knights scare Highlanders
|Rothesay Red Hawk Joey Bass, white jersey, is hit by Saint John High Greyhound Blake Johnstone during New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association high school football action Friday.|
Football squads roll to victories
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Sept. 20
Appeared on page C11
SAINT JOHN - It was a one-sided night in the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association high school football conference Friday.
The Saint John Greyhounds, Riverview Royals and Hampton Huskies all rolled to convincing victories on a busy slate of action on the local gridiron.
Saint John raced to a 54-0 lead the half and downed the Rothesay Red Hawks 87-0.
Saint John moved to 2-0 while Rothesay dropped to 0-2.
At Shamrock Park, Matt Doucet scored four rushing scores for the winners on runs of 50, 60, 37 and 52 yards.
Caleb Jones ran for three scores two runs of 25 yards and another for 33 yards. He also three one touchdown to Chris Tilley.
Tilley caught two touchdowns as did Cassian Ferlatte. The other majors went to Andrew Parson and Kevin Yoon.
Dan Duplessis booted nine conversions while Alex Hachey recovered two of six turnovers for the Greyhounds.
In Hampton, Mitch O'Neill ran for a pair of touchdowns of 20 and 38 yards and Ryan Fowler-Ross caught one touchdown for 30 yards and ran for another two-yard score as the Huskies cruised to a 49-7 victory over Sussex.
Corey O'Toole (four year run), Pat O'Brien four-yard run), and Greg Armstrong (50 yard fumble recovery) also scored majors while the Sussex offence conceded a safety and kicker Alex Locke nailed five conversions.
Mark Folkins scored the Sussex touchdown on a three-yard pass while Aaron Tabor booted the convert.
Elsewhere, Riverview blanked L'Odyssee 56-0.
Sussex marches ground game into Hampton for matchup with HuskiesBy Kevin Barrett
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Sept. 19
Appeared on page B12
When the Sussex Sonics march into Hampton today for their New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association football contest, there won't be many surprises delivered by the hometown Huskies.
Relying significantly on their thriving ground game, the Huskies figure to pound the ball rushing when the teams meet today at 4:30 p.m.
In two games, including the regular season opener last weekend in Fredericton, the Hampton duo of Corey O'Toole and Mitch O'Neill have produced 527 yards on the ground and paced a pair of victories.
"We know we can't start to slow down," said O'Neill who opened with 127 yards in a win over St. Stephen and followed with 139 yards in a victory over Fredericton last week.
"We have to go at a good pace."
O'Neill, a five-foot-11, 165-pound back says a revamped team, one that includes new muscle up front to boost the efforts of centre Travis MacKenzie and added enthusiasm from the bantam ranks, feels confident in its abilities.
O'Toole, who opened with 133 yards in Week 1 and then added 128 yards against Fredericton, is more of the tradition fullback and O'Neill fills the tailback role.
"I am play more up the middle while Mitch is a lot quicker so once he hits the outside, he is gone. He is like a rocket," said O'Toole, a Grade 11 student who didn't play last year but is cruising so far in 2008.
With some help from Mark Gallagher, the former coach of the Saint John Wanderers senior team, they have plenty of different plays and looks to confuse defences.
O'Neill also pointed to the role the defence - paced by Connor Kyle, Alex Locke and Mathew Papineau - as a dominant characteristic of the Huskies.
At 1-0, they take on Sussex today and Kennebecasis Valley next week before dates with Leo Hayes and Oromocto wrap up the regular season.
"We are not going to play any different, we just have to get it done," said O'Toole.
Hampton last advanced to the provincial final in 2003, losing to Fredericton in the championship game.
O'Neill likes the early enthusiasm this season, especially after a 1-4 record a year ago.
"There are a lot of good players who came up from the bantam team," said O'Neill. "They added good morale. Everybody gets each other pumped up and our defense is a powerhouse."
In other action today in the southwestern conference, St. Malachy's (1-0) meets Simonds (1-0) at Shamrock at 7 p.m., just after the contest between Rothesay (0-1) takes on Saint John (1-0) at 5 p.m.
In the eastern conference, Bernice MacNaughton (2-0) tangles with Moncton at (1-0) at 7 p.m. while Riverview and l'Odyssee (0-2) meet at 4 p.m.
Saturday, Leo Hayes (1-0) travels to Rothesay for a date with Kennebecasis Valley (0-1), Fredericton (0-1) hosts Oromocto (1-0) and St. Stephen (1-0) entertains Harbour View (0-1).
In the east, Harrison Trimble (1-1) travels to Sackville for a date with Tantramar (1-1).
All of Saturday's games start at 1 p.m.
Knights up for challenge