Week 6: October 9-11
|KAT ON THE LOOSE: Fredericton High School Black Kats’ running back Adam Jones is in full stride as he heads down the sideline trying to avoid would-be tacklers Jake Briggs, 45, and Tyler Vrolyk, 27, of the Leo Hayes High St. Mary’s Lions during provincial high school football league action Saturday at FHS field. Jones had a touchdown as the Kats prevailed in the annual North-South Bowl game, 35-8.|
Kats rule city grid rivalryBy Mike Power
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Oct. 13
Appeared on page B2
The trophy for the annual North-South Bowl is so secure in its resting place it doesn't even show up to be presented anymore.
For the seventh time in a row and seventh time in the eight-year history of the North-South Bowl, the bowl will sit in the trophy case of the Fredericton High School Black Kats.
Saturday, when the teams lined up for the post-game presentation, nobody had remembered to actually bring the bowl, saving it a trip.
For the fourth straight year, the matchup between the two city schools proved to be a one-sided affair. The Black Kats ran - and threw - wild to defeat the Leo Hayes St. Mary's Lions 35-8 in front of an estimated 150 fans at FHS Field.
With the win, the Black Kats assured themselves of a home game next week to open the playoffs.
FHS finished second to the Hampton High School Huskies atop the south west standings. Both teams finished 4-1 but the Huskies were winners over FHS in their head to head meeting. Hampton secured top seed in the division with a 21-20 win over Oromocto High Blues Saturday in Hampton. The Blues finished 3-2 in third position. The Lions were also 3-2 but lost to OHS in their head to head meeting, thus finishing fourth.
FHS will host OHS in one divisional semifinal while Leo Hayes will travel to Hampton for the other. Missing the playoffs were Sussex High Sonics and Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders. Sussex defeated KV 20-12 Saturday to finish 1-4 while the Crusaders were winless in five starts.
The Black Kats rumbled to 423 yards of total offence including 296 yards passing on their way to the win over Leo Hayes. They led 35-0 after three quarters before finally going flat and opening the door for the Lions to gain back a little momentum with a good final 12 minutes and their only points of the day.
It didn't start that way. For most of the first quarter, which was scoreless, this shaped up to be a battle. In the opening 10 minutes, each team had a time-consuming drive. The Leos received the kick-off and marched down field on eight straight running plays, working the ball to the FHS 15-yard line. However, the first LHHS pass of the day by quarterback Derek Broad was picked off by Jake MacNeil and the drive was spiked.
The Black Kats answered with a ten-play drive of their own that got them to the 36 of Leo Hayes before it fizzled and forced a punt. And that just about took care of the opening quarter.
But then the Lions fell apart and the game would never be close again.
"I think we just lost our focus," said Broad. "For whatever reason, maybe because we didn't get anything our of (the opening drive), we couldn't stay with our game. We couldn't execute the way we are capable of doing."
And like sharks at a chum party, the Black Kats began to swarm.
Three minutes into the second quarter, Jeff Madsen tossed a 53-yard bomb to A.J. Durling and the aerial circus was open for business. Three plays later, Madsen hit Durling for a five-yard touchdown with Jason El Khoury kicking the convert.
Two minutes later, Durling punted a ball through the end zone for another point, making it 8-0. Next came a 24-yard run by Ryan Murphy to set up a four-yard plunge by Devin Kearney and with the El Khoury convert, it was 15-0.
With 41 seconds left in the half, Joey Lea picked off Broad to set up a nine-yard TD pass from Madsen to Adam Jones. The El Khoury convert made it 22-0 at the half.
The intermission proved to only delay the onslaught. Three minutes after the kick-off, Madsen connected with Murphy for a 55-yard pass and run play to make it 28-0 when the convert sailed wide. On the next FHS series, it was Madsen to Durling capping off the drive with a 29-yard scoring strike followed by the El Khoury convert.
"They were double and triple teaming AJ," Madsen said. "So I threw to other guys and it worked great. But AJ is such a good receiver they really couldn't keep him covered even with two guys on him. I love to throw to the guy. He can pick the ball out of the air and go."
And with that it was 35-0. Madsen, his job down, headed for the bench for the rest of the day having thrown for 289 yards and three touchdowns. Madsen was 10 for 20 attempts and was picked off twice. "It looks good but we can be better," Madsen said. "We still had a couple of turnovers which we want to eliminate going to the playoffs."
Durling caught five passes for 11 yards.
Four minutes into the final quarter, Broad finally got the Lions on the board with a 20-yard toss to Cody Stewart, who also kicked the convert. With three minutes to go, the Kats took a knee on a third down to give LHHS the final point of the day.
Broad ended up of with 96 yards passing, with three interceptions. He was seven for 13 attempts.
A scary moment late in the game saw Black Kats' linebacker Jayden Clark fall to the turf with an apparent neck injury and not get up. After a lengthy delay, he was carried off the field on a stretcher. The FHS trainers said afterwards he had full movement but Casey said "with a neck injury you always have to be careful. But we're optimistic he will be all right."
In Southern Conference action Saturday, Saint John Greyhounds hammered St. Malachy's Saints 45-13 to finish 5-0 and hand the Saints their first loss in five starts. St. Stephen Spartans defeated Simonds High Seabees 60-12 while Rothesay Hawks upended Harbour View Vikings 6-1.
In Eastern Conference play, MacNaughton High improved to 5-0 defeating Riverview High Royals 26-3. Harrison Trimble Trojans edged Moncton High Purple Knights 17-9 while Mathieu Martin of Dieppe shut out winless L'Oyssee 14-0.
Sonics win first game
Published in the Times-Transcript on Oct. 13
Appeared on page B6
SUSSEX - The Sussex Sonics recorded their first ever New Brunswick High School Football League victory Saturday.
The Sonics scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and defeated the visiting Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders 20-12 in a Southwestern Conference game to complete the regular season.
Neither Sussex (1-4) nor KV (0-5) made the playoffs.
The Sonics, who joined the league this season, had won an exhibition game, a 23-6 victory over the Rothesay High Redhawks.
Quarterback Aaron Tabor connected with receiver Mike Brown on a 30-yard touchdown pass and Adam Sparkes scored on a three-yard run for Sussex. Tabor also kicked two field goals and two converts for the winners.
Chris Landers and Ryan Nicholson replied with touchdowns for KV.
In other Southwestern Conference games Saturday, the Fredericton High Black Kats beat the Leo Hayes Lions 35-8, Hampton High Huskies edged the Oromocto High Blues 21-20 and St. Stephen High Spartans thumped the Simonds Seabees 60-12.
|Chris Cornect of Harrison Trimble Trojans tries to get away from Jordan Holden of Moncton High Purple Knights during the Homecoming football game last night at Rocky Stone Field.|
Trojans get by Knights
|Alex Hardt of Saint John High School breaks free of St. Malachy's Keith Messer during NBIAA high school football action Friday.|
Hounds ride second-half surge
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Oct. 11
Appeared on page C11
SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Greyhounds remained unbeaten in the South Western Division of the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association's high school football league.
Friday, Saint John moved to 5-0 with a 45-13 victory over the previously unbeaten St. Malachy's Saints.
Caleb Jones scored three touchdowns on runs of 30, 35 and 15 yards as the Greyhounds pulled away in the second half after carrying a narrow 10-7 lead the intermission.
Matt Doucett added scoring runs of 30 and 35 yards for the winners while Cassian Ferrlatte caught a 28-yard pass from Dallas Ballard for the other Greyhounds touchdown.
Dan Duplessis kicked a 21-yard field gold and booted all six conversions.
St. Malachy's opened the scoring on a Chris Reid five-yard rush. Walker Blizzard kicked the convert.
Isiah Nice added the other major for St. Malachy's, now 4-1, on an 85-yard run.
Alex Hachey also had an interception for the winners.
In action today, Hampton entertains Oromocto as both teams are 3-1 and the winner will get a home field date on the post-season.
Meanwhile, Kennebecasis Valley travel to Sussex in a meeting of 0-4 teams. Elsewhere, Leo Hayes (3-1) takes on Fredericton (3-1) and St. Stephen travels to Simonds for a matchup of 2-2 teams.
In another game Friday, the Rothesay Red Hawks earned their first win of the season with a 6-1 decision over the Harbour View Vikings.
Joey Bass scored the lone touchdown for Rothesay 1-4. In the Eastern Division, Bernice MacNaughton downed Riverview High 26-3; and Harrison Trimble downed Moncton High 17-9.
All games start today at 1 p.m.
North-South Bowl a big one in grid standingsBy Mike Power
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Oct. 10
Appeared on page C1
As high school football games go tomorrow afternoon's 1 p.m. meeting between the Leo Hayes High School St. Mary's Lions and Fredericton High School Black Kats at FHS Field promises to be a good contest.
And that's before considering the fact that it's the eighth annual North-South Bowl and the site of a Black Kats' football reunion.
As it is the game pits a couple of teams tied at 3-1 on the season and two of the schools knotted in a four-way tie in the Western Division of the New Brunswick High School Football League.
But wait there's more: to add even more spice, it will be played at the same time the other two teams in the traffic jam, the Oromocto High School Blues and Hampton Huskies, play in Hampton. All this happens on the final day of the regular season.
By day's end any one of the teams could be first, second, third or fourth. Here in Fredericton, one team will also have bragging rights.
"It's going to be fun," said FHS receiver A.J. Durling. "We're pretty excited about it; it's a big day in a lot of ways. The rivalry (with Leo Hayes) is as big as it's ever been. We see each other all winter so you don't want to lose this game."
The whole North-South Bowl concept has been rather muted in recent years. FHS has won the last six regular season meetings. Leo Hayes won the inaugural North-South Bowl in 2001, but the Black Kats have won every one since.
In fact since a dramatic 22-21 win by the Black Kats in 2004 it hasn't even been close. Fredericton High has won the past three Bowl games by a combined score of 98-0, including 21-0 last year, 44-0 in 2006 and 33-0 in 2005.
But those scores are just history according to Durling.
"They don't mean a thing this year," he said. "I haven't seen (Leo Hayes) play this year but from the records of the teams, we are pretty close in a lot of things. There are a bunch of teams in our division who can beat any other team any day, or lose just as easy."
It's made for an interesting race, what with Hampton beating the Kats, Leo Hayes beating Hampton but losing to OHS and FHS beating the Blues.
"I just think it's inconsistency by all the teams," Durling said. "No team has been that great yet but none have been bad. Some match up better with others and maybe some mistakes get made some days that won't get made the next time."
As for the fact that the game will be played in front of the Old Kats of the team alumni, that too is unique.
"We get reminded about all of our tradition sometimes," Durling said. "It's not constantly, like to put pressure on us, but it does come up from time to time. I think it makes it all more fun, to wear the uniform and such. But we have to be worried about our record just this year, not the past.
"At least we know we will have a lot of support, we know (the team alumni) will be cheering big time for us to win." This will be the final regular season home game for a number of Black Kats, including Durling. He'll cross the line to join the ranks of the alumni next season.
"Yeah, you are aware of that in your last year," he said. "Everybody wants to have a big finish to their last season of high school ball, I know I do. We still have the playoffs to go, but this is still a big game when you think about it being one of the last times here."
The losing team will open the playoffs on the road and face the possibility they may never play at home again this season.
|Matadors blank Olympiens in high school football
Mathieu-Martin gets first football win in nearly four years
Published in the Times-Transcript on Oct. 10
Appeared on page D3
t was nearly four years in the making, but the Mathieu-Martin Matadors recorded their first New Brunswick High School Football League win since 2004 last night.
The Matadors blanked the l'Odyssée Olympiens 14-0 at Rocky Stone Memorial Field in a battle of the basement teams in the league's Eastern Conference.
Mathieu-Martin improved its record to 1-4 while l'Odyssée completed the regular season at 0-6. Neither team will make the playoffs.
The Matadors returned to the league last season after a two-year absence and went 0-6. Their last win came Oct. 23, 2004 when they edged the Saint John High Greyhounds 32-31.
"This is awesome. I'm so happy for the kids and the school," said Mathieu-Martin head coach Shane Mosher.
"There were a lot of students celebrating on the field afterwards and I hope that enthusiasm will help carry our program along to the next level and help us get more players coming out for the team."
The win avenged the Matadors' 21-0 loss to the Olympiens last season.
Running back Gilbert Deguire scored on a two-yard run to send Mathieu-Martin into halftime with a 7-0 lead. Matadors quarterback Xavier Couture hooked up with Phil Melanson on 20-yard touchdown pass in the second half to secure the victory. Justin Cormier kicked both converts.
"It was a tough game, especially in the first half when l'Odyssée was doing a lot of offence," said Mosher, who praised the play of nose guard Max Daigle who anchored the Mathieu-Martin defence.
"We made a few minor adjustments at halftime and controlled the middle of the field with our defensive lineman and forced them to run outside."
Mosher said his team's 55-6 loss to the Tantramar Titans last week helped spark the victory.
"Tantramar took it to us physically and I thought it was the first time that we really responded physically this year," the coach said. "We built on that and used it as motivation and that carried into this game."
A pair of Eastern Conference games are scheduled for today. The two-time defending provincial champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders (4-0) host the Riverview High Royals (4-0) at 4 p.m. at Rocky Stone in a battle for first place while the Harrison Trimble Trojans (2-2) meet the Moncton High Purple Knights (2-2) in the annual homecoming game at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone.
|The St. Malachy's Saints football team practised at Shamrock Park on Tuesday in preparation for Friday’s game against the Saint John High Greyhounds at 7:30 p.m. Both teams bring 4-0 records into the contest.|
Something has to giveBy Kevin Barrett
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Oct. 9
Appeared on page B14
The game no one at Saint John or St. Malachy's High Schools could officially talk about is finally here.
And while the Saint John Greyhounds were predicted to rule the South Division of the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association's High School Football League, the strength of the St. Malachy's Saints has turned more than a few heads.
Maybe it is part reality. Maybe it is keeping his players focused or maybe it is respect of their opponent, but Saints head coach Phil McGarvey says his side, which is 4-0 and has outscored opponents 201-0 in its last three starts - will be the underdog Friday at Shamrock Field, beginning at 7:30 pm.
"We haven't played these guys for five years, they have been the big guys in the 12-man division and we are the new kids on the block," said McGarvey.
Indeed the Greyhounds, one of two 12-man teams from a year ago in the South, are impressive at 4-0, outscoring their opponents 243-19 in search of their first 12-man provincial championship.
Yet, the Saints have turned the corner from the days where they were regularly slotted for last place before the season's first play. In a short time, the school built a football base with a development program and now, it is starting to pay off.
All-star quarterback Trevor Harrison, last year's 10-man player of the year, is a classic drop back passer who is starting to generate interest from Canadian university teams.
Three other all-stars from 2007 are back - running back Chris Moore, linebacker Chris Reid and defensive back Alex McGarvey - and the team is gelling perfectly.
And receiver Walker Blizzard is a multi-sport athlete with hands and speed to burn.
Coach McGarvey is pleased with the entire unit and given the results, who could blame him.
"Overall, this basically is what we have been planning and working for so I am not surprised," he said.
"Every year, the kids develop exponentially. We see it this year too. The kids who were reasonable last year are pretty good this year and the ones who were pretty good last year are really good this year."
The squad had avenged a loss to St. Stephen in last year's 10-man final and blossomed in the South.
Indeed, the high school football league this year is a lopsided mess, complete with 10-touchdown blowouts that are more common than they should be.
The provincial association is dealing with a host of delicate issues this current school year - competitive imbalance is one of the major topics.
That said, St. Malachy's performance is an example of the strides that can be taken with the right mix of talent and dedication.
The Saints are the lone 10-man team from a year ago to post a winning record in the newly amalgamated loop and games that were close against rivals in 2007 are not this season.
"St. Malachy's had done well in hockey, basketball and baseball but there was never a real focus on football," said McGarvey. "We set out to develop that (football) culture.''
All of the current players graduated from a bantam program started five years ago, and while results took time at the high school level, last year's 3-3 record was an indication of progress.
Now they are in a huge game against one of their biggest rivals.
UNIVERSITY POTENTIAL: McGarvey says he has heard whispers of universities interested in Harrison's quarterbacking abilities but nothing concrete at this point.
Harrison is interested in studying kinesiology and his coach feels firm decisions on next year won't be made for some time.
"With the points he's put up on the board this year, he's going to get some attention," McGarvey said. "He is a real solid level-headed kid, he's got good marks...I think he has the potential to go ahead and play at the next level "
He says he compares favourably to former Leo Hayes Lion Josh Sacobie, who is now taking aim at the Canadian Interuniversity Sports passing yardage record with the Ottawa Gee Gees. McGarvey coached against Sacobie in the Maritime Football League and feels Harrison has a similar style.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE: With so many schools in close proximity in the greater Saint John area, there are often close connections between students in rival schools.
The recently completed Southern Conference softball season was one example of many players in the same summer club system competing for the conference title.
That familiarity extends to Friday's game as well, where students at St. Malachy's and Saint John are teaming for a special fundraiser to honour the memory of Jonathan Ingersoll, a popular Saint John High graduate who died last month at 17 after a battle with leukemia.
Student council reps at both St. Malachy's and Saint John schools teamed on the initiative. Admission for the game is a donation to the IWK Hospital in Halifax, while other fund-raising initiatives include 50-50 draws and sales from concessions and special, 'Live Strong', bracelets. All proceeds from the game go to the IWK.
"He was very popular. Four or five of our players were very, very close to Jonathan," said Saint John head coach Dave Grandy.
"It is very important for them."
NOTES: Friday's game will feature the return of the Burger King Cup, which was last presented to the Greyhounds in 1997 as Saint John's city high school football champions....The last time St. Malachy's and Saint John met was October 2003. Saint John won 61-0.
2-tier system needed for high school footballBy Mike Power
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Oct. 7
Appeared on page B3
Last week I wrote that the sport of high school football in this province was in crisis. I outlined the results of games played and pointed out that things in the high school gridiron world are spinning out of control.
And this past weekend, the situation got worse.
In three games, these scores were recorded (I won't mention the teams involved to save embarrassing the losers and the winners): 63-0, 72-0 and believe it or not, 84-0. And before you say 84-0 is a ridiculous and shameful score, you should know it's only the second highest of the 2008 season. There was an 87-0 result in Week 3.
So let's review the numbers now that Week 5 of the season is in the books:
After 45 games, the winning team has outscored the losing team 1,947 to 316. The average league game score is: 43-7. In 45 games, there have been 17 shutouts, two games have been won by 80 points or more, seven by 60 points or more, 12 by 50 points or more and an eye-popping 22 by 40 points or more. That's half the games, give or take one, by more than 40 points.
I have asked a number of football people what is an acceptable score to still rate a game as having been won by a reasonable score. The consensus is 30 points.
"Thirty is pretty one-sided," one of them told me. "But it is still a game. You can be down a couple of touchdowns and maybe get burned for a couple more while trying to get back into it by passing the ball too much. Beyond 30 points, well, you feel pretty bad for everybody involved, especially when it hits 40 or even 50 points." Or 60, or 70, maybe 87? So 30 points is a blow-out, but still a game? It is also six below the league average of a 36-point difference.
How can winning by 67 or 84 or 87 points be any fun? At this rate, teams will not be coming back next year. But maybe that's the plan?
Kids won't be playing for the school football team next year because it is a very tough sport to play when you aren't having fun. Maybe the top teams will be happy to see the strong survive and the weak falter. That way, the league will be stronger. It's just the sport that will suffer. Oh and the kids, they will suffer as well.
Ironically, the high school football league doesn't keep individual statistics, like who the leading offensive players are, so that teams won't be tempted to run up scores padding individual stats. How's that working out for you guys?
One thing I regret not dealing with in greater detail last week was giving the impression all of this mess is a result of the NBIAA forcing a merger between the 10-man and 12-man football leagues because the NBIAA was inflexible on how many teams were needed before they could sanction a 10-man league. It needs eight.
Of course, that's not the whole problem. In fact, one of the teams bashing opponents on the scoreboard is former 10-man team St. Malachy's Saints of Saint John. So it's not that simple, although certainly 10-man alumni Harbour View and Rothesay are certainly two of the teams getting beaten badly.
There are 19 football teams in the high school league split into two conferences and three divisions. So what can we do to prevent this mess next year?
How about some administrators and coaches swallow their pride and allow for the creation of a two-tiered league? Of the 19 teams, there are currently six teams without a win. All six are getting pounded. They're a combined 0-25.
Take these six and two others, a number of teams are 2-2 with wins coming in games against the winless six, and form a second eight-team tier. Leave the other 11 in the top division.
It would still be 12-man football but teams would not be constantly overmatched.
At the end of the season the champion of the second division and the team with the next best record will have the option of moving up to the top tier.
If they choose to do that two, or one, a team will have to drop down to replace them. Those would be the teams with the worst record in the season just complete. Tie-breakers would be decided on before the season. Or they could just remain in tier two if they are graduating a lot of players and nobody moves up or down in that case.
The folks in Moncton who hate the thought of interlocking games with the west so much might not like the thought of traveling out of their tight little insular world but as it stands right now, the top five in the east would be a division by themselves, which is how they like it.
In the west, our three local schools would join the top three out of the Saint John region, including Hampton and play a six-team division.
It would require some thought and planning, some flexibility and imagination - or wait, no it wouldn't. I just imagined the whole thing - but mostly it would need cooperation and the dropping of individual agendas. So there's no chance it will happen.
Oh well, there aren't a lot of one-sided match-ups in Week 6 so maybe they can save face and get on with winning the championship, because that's what it's all about.
Mike Power can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org His weekly column dealing with school-related topics appears each Tuesday.