Week 8: October 24-25
|Royals, Highlanders headed for N.B. grid
Riverview to face powerhouse Saint John Greyhounds; MacNaughton will tackle Hampton Huskies
Published in the Times-Transcript on Oct. 27
With a convincing 31-0 victory over the Moncton High Purple Knights, the Riverview Royals are headed to the New Brunswick High School Football League semifinals.
The Royals, who finished 5-1 in the regular season, downed Moncton (3-3) on the strength of a solid performance on both sides of the ball, highlighted by two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
"We had a good dose of running and there was some passing too. The defence was outstanding, they gave us a short field pretty much the whole game," said Royals' head coach Guy Messervier.
"I think Moncton High had like four or five first downs the whole game."
It was hardly the close contest the two teams engaged in during Week 5 of the season, when Riverview edged Moncton 11-7.
"I thought it would be a closer game. We were a little bit surprised," Messervier said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Riverview got on the board with a four-yard touchdown pass from Jon Stevens to Joey McQuinn, with the point after converted by Matt Archibald.
Archibald then widened the lead in the second quarter when he successfully booted a field goal.
Riverview led 10-0 at half.
In the third quarter, Stevens called his own number and dashed in for a one-yard touchdown run, with Archibald adding the extra point to make it 17-0.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, Riverview sealed the game with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. First, Josemilio Aguillar picked off a Purple Knight pass and returned it 35 yards for the score.
J.P. Bowie followed with a 30-yard touchdown return following his interception.
Both points after touchdown were successfully converted by Archibald.
The road to high school football glory certainly won't get any easier for Riverview. Their next test is against the Southwest conference leading Saint John High Greyhounds.
During the regular season, Saint John (5-0), outscored opponents 288-28.
"We don't know a whole lot about Saint John, we don't know too much other than that they've been beating pretty much everybody pretty badly over there," Messervier said. "But I try as a head coach not to worry so much about the other team. I find if you worry too much about the other team you don't prepare your team enough."
Moncton High coach John Allanach said he was proud of his club and that football was "alive and well" at MHS.
The team finished at 4-4 including an exhibition and the playoff game and in three of the losses the total points margin was 13 points.
"We've got 40 players returning next season and 18 of those are starters," Allanach said. "We'll be back next season."
In another quarter-final played Saturday, Hampton High Huskies downed the St. Malachy's Saints 48-32.
Playoff action will continue on Saturday when Riverview will travel to play Saint John in one semifinal at 1 p.m., while Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders host Hampton at 1 p.m. in the other semi.
|Hampton rumbles into semis
Football 48-32 win over St. Mac's results in date with powerhouse MacNaughton
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Oct. 27
Appeared on page B5
HAMPTON - Nick Basque set the tone early for the Hampton High Huskies.
Basque returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and the Huskies continued to pour on the offence en route to a 48-32 win over the St. Malachy's Memorial Saints Saturday in New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association quarter-final football action.
With the victory, Hampton earns a provincial semifinal date Saturday at 1 p.m. in Moncton against the Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders, who won their quarter-final contest 31-0 over the Harrison Trimble Trojans.
Next weekend's other semifinal contest has the Riverview Royals visiting the Saint John Greyhounds Saturday at 1 p.m. Riverview's quarter-final contest was a 31-0 whitewashing of the Moncton Purple Knights, while the Greyhounds dumped the Fredericton Black Kats 34-13 Friday night.
After Basque's early major for Hampton, Adam Kane added the single-point convert and the Huskies continued to roll. Mitch O'Neill's 40-yard TD run made it 13-0.
St. Mac's managed to cut the deficit to 13-7 before the end of the first quarter, but Craig Buck's major and another convert courtesy of Kane gave Hampton a 20-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Corey O'Toole scored on a five-yard run and Kane added another single before the end of the quarter, giving the Huskies a commanding 27-7 cushion at the half.
In the third quarter, O'Neill added his second TD, this time on a 50-yard run, and Kane cashed in another convert as the onslaught continued.
Buck hauled in a two-yard pass in the end zone and Basque scored on a 23-yard run before the third quarter had ended. Kane added singles after both of those majors.
The Saints managed to muster some offence in the later stages of the contest, but not enough to mount a serious comeback bid.
"We were happy because the offence struggled last weekend against Leo Hayes,'' Huskies head coach Andrew Peters said. "We got that part of our game rolling again this weekend. The defence played OK, but we'll be working on our pass defence this week in practice.''
The Huskies will likely be without the services of two key players in Saturday's semifinal. Middle linebacker Ryan Fowler-Ross had surgery on his broken hand early last week, while defensive end Alex Locke has been sidelined for the last two weeks due to a deep thigh bruise. That doesn't bode well against undefeated MacNaughton (6-0), also the top offensive team in the Eastern Conference.
"You have to respect MacNaughton,'' Peters said. "They're always good. According to them, their team isn't as strong this year, but they haven't lost a game this year. They say they're rebuilding, but they have a great program. We're going to need a total team effort to beat them.''
Riverview 31, Moncton 0
The Royals downed Moncton on the strength of a solid performance on both sides of the ball, highlighted by two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
After a scoreless first quarter, Riverview got on the board with a four-yard touchdown pass from Jon Stevens to Joey McQuinn, with the point after converted by Matt Archibald.
Archibald then widened the lead in the second quarter when he successfully booted a field goal. Riverview led 10-0 at half.
In the third quarter, Stevens called his own number and dashed in for a one-yard TD run, with Archibald adding the extra point to make it 17-0.
In the fourth quarter, Riverview sealed the deal with two interceptions returned for touchdowns. First, Josemilio Aguillar picked off a Purple Knight pass and returned it 35 yards for the score.
J.P. Bowie followed with a 30-yard TD return following his interception. Both points after touchdown were converted by Archibald.
|Harrison Trimble Trojans Miguel Vercheure gets tackled by MacNaughton Highlanders Cameron Wade, left, and Blake Stewart during the first half at Rocky Stone Memorial Field last night.|
|Highlanders move to semis
MacNaughton High beats Trimble Trojans 33-6
Published in the Times-Transcript on Oct. 25
Backup quarterback Cameron Wade, playing in place of injured starter Scott Kelly, ran for three touchdowns and threw for another leading the two-time defending provincial champions to a 33-6 win over the Harrison Trimble Trojans in a New Brunswick quarter-final at Rocky Stone Memorial Field last night.
Wade scored his team's first two touchdowns of the night in the first half, the first on an eight-yard run and the second on a one-yard run that was set up by an 80-yard scamper from Thomas Blight.
With the Highlanders up 17-6 at halftime, Wade ran from four yards out in the third quarter for his third major of the night and then tossed a 57-yard touchdown pass to Blake Stewart to put the game away.
"It was a stellar performance by him. He made good decisions on both sides of the ball," Bernice MacNaughton head coach Ed Wasson said of Wade, who also plays halfback on the team's defensive unit.
"He's the best backup quarterback in the league."
Kelly, who helped the Highlanders win the past two New Brunswick championships, is expected to play in next week's cross-over semifinal.
In another quarter-final last night, the Saint John High Greyhounds defeated the Fredericton High Black Kats 34-13.
The other two quarter-finals will be played today at 1 p.m. The Riverview High Royals host the Moncton High Purple Knights while the St. Malachy's Saints visit the Hampton High Huskies.
Bernice MacNaughton racked up 419 total offensive yards, including 332 on the ground. Eric Rioux led the ground attack with 124 rushing yards.
Middle linebacker Ben Leger paced the Highlanders defence with eight tackles and a sack, Kyle Joudrey recorded three tackles and forced a safety and Greg Powell contributed four tackles and a sack. Blight kicked a 15-yard field goal and four converts for the winners.
|Saint John High School running back Caleb Jones powers his way into the end zone against Fredericton High defender Patrick Downe during New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association football action at Millidgeville Field Friday night. Saint John High advanced to the provincial varsity semifinals next weekend with a 34-13 win over Fredericton.||Paydirt: Quarterback Jeff Madsen of the Fredericton High School Black Kats crosses into the end zone for a touchdown against the best efforts of the Saint John High School Greyhounds in New Brunswick High School Football League playoff action in Millidgeville Friday night. The Black Kats were eliminated from the playoffs with a 34-13 loss to the unbeaten Greyhounds.|
|Gutsy Greyhounds advance
Football Saint John High moves on to semis with dominating performance against Fredericton High
By Kevin Barrett
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Oct. 25
Appeared on page C10
SAINT JOHN - As the final seconds counted down, Caleb Jones eyes shone in pride and amazement.
The powerful running back had just led his Saint John Greyhounds to a 34-13 playoff victory over the Fredericton Black Kats in a Friday night special at Millidgeville Field and just prior to the gun, he took a second to absorb what his team had just accomplished.
"For as long as I have been here, they have had the biggest players, the fastest players," said Jones in reference to the Kats, who had played in the past five New Brunswick High School Football league finals.
"But this year, the league was a little more balanced and tonight, we executed. We played our type of football."
Sparked by a dominating defense that allowed just two first downs in the final three quarters, the Greyhounds used three touchdowns from Matt Doucet and two more from Jones, to pull away in the final 25 minutes and advance to the provincial semifinal, which they will host next week.
Not counting a three-year stint from 2001-2003 when the Greyhounds were in the provincial 10-man league, it's the first time they have been this close to the Ed Skiffington trophy since 1996, when they lost a provincial semifinal to Fredericton.
"For us to do this in a playoff game, on our home field, against this team, it is a big deal for us," said Doucet, who scored on runs of 23, 17 and two yards, all in the second half.
Jones scored a pair of first half touchdowns and Dan Duplessis added four conversions as Saint John went to 8-0.
Fredericton quarterback Jeff Madsen struggled with the offense all evening but managed to punch in a couple of short runs, the second with 1:53 left in the third quarter to make it 20-13. It came just after Ryan Murphy broke free for a 65-yard scamper to the Saint John one-yard line (as it turned out, it was the lone Kats first down in the second half until there was less three minutes remaining).
But the Kats failed on the ensuing on-side kick (although they protested strongly that they did get it, they were successful).
From there, it was all Greyhounds.
"That (not getting the kick) took all of our momentum away and from there, they really took over the game," said Madsen.
Jones set the tone early, scoring on a 65-yard burst in the game's opening minutes before Madsen scored on a sneak late in the first quarter.
Fredericton missed the extra point, and because of stellar defensive play by both sides, it stayed that way until late in the half, when Madsen and the Kats had good field position at their own 45 with 1:38 to go.
But Duplessis picked off a Madsen pass and ran it back to the Fredericton 45. Then Jones, on a flea-flicker, connected with receiver Chris Tilley to put the ball at the Fredericton 18-yard line.
After three subsequent runs, Saint John had a third and goal at the FHS two-yard line with 30 seconds remaining - easily in chip shot field goal range for Duplessis.
However, Greyhounds head coach Dave Grandy opted to go for the major and Jones rewarded that faith by powering in on a two-yard sweep to the right side for a signature score.
"It was a statement play," Jones said. "We wanted the touchdown."
In the second half, both offenses started slow but the Greyhounds were gaining so much confidence in their defence, they gambled often, converting a fake punt on third and 10 from midfield when Jones rumbled 32 yards down the left side.
Doucet raced into the end zone on a similar path on the very next play for a 20-6 lead with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
Fredericton closed that gap quickly after Murphy's magic run that Madsen punched in but the Greyhounds defense sacked Black Kats punter AJ Durling at his own 31 on the first snap of the fourth quarter and four plays later Doucet danced in from 17 yards.
And after the Greyhounds forced a two and out on the next series, Doucet banged in from two yards - thanks in large part to another Jones run on third and 12 that led to a first down at the Fredericton 31 yard line.
"It makes me so happy I could do this for my team," said the Grade 11 Doucet of his three-touchdown night.
As for the Black Kats, the season ended with a 4-1 regular-season record and a 1-1 slate in the playoffs.
They also lost 20-7 to Saint John in the pre-season.
Madsen took the blame for Friday's result, crediting a powerful Saint John pass rush with the team's ineffective offence.
"I'll put this game on my shoulders, going 3-for-20 or whatever it was," he said. 'It was the worst time to have the worst game of the season."
Today, St. Malachy's travel to Hampton for the other Southwestern Conference semifinal.
Game time is 1 p.m.
|Grid Kats underdogs tonight
By Mike Power
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Oct. 24
Appeared on page B1
It's awfully early for the Fredericton High School Black Kats to be playoff underdogs in the New Brunswick High School Football League, but it's just week two of the second season and here we are.
The Kats travel to Saint John this afternoon for their quarterfinal date with the Saint John High School Greyhounds with few outside of the FHS camp giving them anything but but long odds of upsetting the undefeated Southern Conference regular season champs.
Kickoff time is 7:30 p.m. on the new artificial turf in Millidgeville. The winner advances to next week's crossover semi-final round.
Actually there might be two other groups that give the Black Kats more than a slim chance to knock off the potent 'Hounds who are 6-0 on the season including a 5-0 regular season record and a 70-0 humbling of Simonds High School in the first round of the playoffs last week.
The others who might favour FHS would be the Leo Hayes St. Mary's Lions and Oromocto High School Beaver Brokerage Blues, the Black Kats' two most recent victims.
FHS is on a five game undefeated streak, most recently knocking off the Lions 35-8 in the annual North-South Bowl and then ending Oromocto's season last week with a 44-0 first round win.
"I think our team is coming together at just the right time, just when we have to," said Black Kats' linebacker Patrick Downe. "We know its playoff time now. It's time for us to put everything we learned all season into every game we play from now on because it's do or die. We're very focused."
As for having to play away from home so early in the playoffs, not the norm for FHS, Downe shrugs it off.
"It's always great playing at home in front of your fans," he said. "But I don't think it's really going to be a huge factor because we are well prepared. It's too late in the season to be bothered about stuff like that." The Black Kats, despite a 4-1 season record, cannot host another playoffs this season.
The only question Downe can't answer is how things might have changed since an early season exhibition game that saw the Greyhounds come to FHS Field and leave with a 20-7 win.
"It was an exhibition game and I didn't play in it," Downe said. "So I guess I can't talk about what it is that (Saint John) did that game and we didn't do. But that was a long time ago now and I know we have grown as a team and there's no doubt it is going to be a very different Black Kat team (in tonight's game)." Downe missed that game because he was tied up with his hockey team, a team which also plays at a pretty high level of competition. The grade 11 student, and second year Black Kat is a defenceman with the Darcy Simon AAA midget Canadiens of the New Brunswick/PEI Major Midget League.
It makes for a busy fall for Downe, but he's loving every minute.
"It really hasn't created any sort of a conflict, not yet anyway," Downe said. "To date I have been able to go to most of the practices and the games for both teams. Other then being a little tired I have enjoyed it."
If he has to juggle two teams for a couple of more weeks Downe is okay with that too.
In other high school playoff action this evening the defending champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders of Moncton (6-0) meet Harrison Trimble (3-3).
Two games are also slated for tomorrow with West Division champion Hampton High School (4-1) hosting Saint Malachy's (4-1) and Moncton High School (3-3) on the road to face Riverview (5-1).
|Saint John High School Greyhounds running back Mat Doucet takes the ball from quarterback Dallas Ballard during a Saint John High School Greyhounds practice Thursday. The undefeated Greyhounds take on Fredericton High tonight in SouthWestern Conference playoff action. The province’s four semifinalists will be decided by Saturday night.|
|Players pumped for quarter-finals
Playoffs Eight high school varsity squads remain in hunt for provincial title
By Kevin Barrett
Published in the Telegraph-Journal on Oct. 24
Appeared on page B8
SAINT JOHN - As a quarterback, Trevor Harrison is the obvious leader of the St. Malachy's Saints.
But as the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association high school football playoffs heat up with provincial quarter-finals this weekend, Harrison's words and enthusiasm are likely reflective of every graduating player on the eight remaining teams.
"As a senior, there are no nerves," said the outstanding signal caller for the Saints. "It is time to play. I am pumped."
The Saints travel to Hampton to take on the Huskies Saturday at 1 p.m. in a battle of programs that went 4-1 during the regular season.
Hampton, which won the West Division, squeaked past Leo Hayes 10-7 in the opening playoff round while St. Malachy's downed St. Stephen 38-19 in their first game.
It's one of four quarter-finals this week, contests that get underway tonight with two delicious matchups.
In the SouthWestern Conference, the unbeaten Saint John High Greyhounds clash with perennial championship contender Fredericton High today at 7:30 p.m. at Millidgeville field.
In the Eastern Conference, Moncton, top-ranked and two-time defending champion Bernice MacNaughton takes on Harrison Trimble for a 7 p.m. start at Rocky Stone.
In the other game Saturday, Riverview hosts Moncton at 1 p.m.
"The boys are looking forward to the challenge," said Saint John head coach Dave Grandy of tonight's enticing contest against Fredericton.
"It is a big rivalry. We are expecting a close game and each team has a lot of talent. It will come down to who executes better and who holds onto the ball."
Saint John downed Fredericton 20-7 in an exhibition contest but Grandy puts little emphasis on that result other than the bit of a confidence boost that resulted for his troops, which are 7-0 overall (including exhibition and playoffs) this season, outscoring their opponents 380-35.
Fredericton has advanced to the past five provincial final games, winning in 2003 and 2005.
However, the Kats fell to Saint John in an exhibition game and went 5-1 during the regular season and playoffs. Yet, they are riding a five-game winning streak into the Port City, outscoring opponents 194-39 in that span, thanks, in part, to a 44-0 victory over Oromocto in the quarter-final round.
Despite all those offensive numbers, Grandy feels tonight's winner will boast the best defence.
"The D really sets the tone in the playoffs," he said. "I am looking for a big defensive effort and hopefully, that will help provide some momentum."
Hampton is 6-1 overall (including exhibition and pre-season) and head coach Andrew Peters says the team looked solid in last week's three-point victory over Leo Hayes last Saturday.
"We are pleased with how the season has gone," said Peters. "The players are all very excited. We did not make the playoffs last year and when it was all over last year, we met with all the kids to focus on what we had to do better."
Hampton's only loss was a 22-20 setback to Leo Hayes, which it avenged last week.
"The D has really come together," said Peters. "We thought last week was probably the best defensive game we played all year."
The team has a dynamic running attack with Corey O'Toole and Mitch O'Neill but suffered a setback last week when senior Alex Locke was lost for the season with a thigh injury.
The Saints and Huskies have not played against one another this season but they have a common opponent in St. Stephen.
The Saints downed St. Stephen twice - 33-19 and 38-19 - while Hampton downed St. Stephen 28-14 in an exhibition contest.
But neither the Saints nor the Huskies feel that matters much.
"Those games are based on what the opponent could and couldn't do," said Harrison. "Then you have to factor in good days and bad days. This game is about how you get out there and perform on game day."
The winners advance to the provincial semifinals next weekend, where the top team in the SouthWestern Conference will host the No. 2 seed from the East and the top seed in the East will host the No. 2 ranked team from the SouthWestern Conference.
|Riverview High Royals' football players Nevarre Sokolowski, Timothy Jay, Nico Sokolowski and Matthew Jay are all brothers and stepbrothers.|
|Brothers are Royal family of football
Riverview hosts Moncton High in quarter-final Saturday
By Sean Hatchard
Published in the Times-Transcript on Oct. 23
Appeared on page B6
The hardest part about having four high school football players living under one roof? That's easy.
"Paying for all the food," said Michal Sokolowski, father and stepfather of four Riverview High Royals football players.
"Having four teenage boys, and football players on top of that ... that's a lot of food and you are what you eat."
When the Royals host the Moncton High Purple Knights in a New Brunswick High School Football League quarter-final Saturday at 1 p.m., their lineup will feature brothers Nevarre and Nico Sokolowski and stepbrothers Matthew Jay and Timothy Jay.
The foursome are children of Riverview husband and wife Michal Sokolowski and Laurie Moreton, who met 11 years back when their children were in kindergarten together at Frank L. Bowser School.
Nevarre, a Grade 12 linebacker, and Matthew, a Grade 11 defensive back, are in their second season with Riverview High.
Nico, a Grade 11 tight end, and Timothy, a Grade 11 fullback, are rookies with the high school team after helping the Riverview Royals win the Maritime bantam football championship last season.
The fifth child of the family, 14-year-old Emma Jay, played one season of peewee football, too. A Grade 9 student at Riverview High, she has no plans on trying out for the high school team though.
Football is the major dinner table discussion subject when they're eating all that food this time of year. Besides playing for the Royals, Matthew is also a volunteer coach with the Riverview Lions peewee team.
"Having us all together really keeps football animated around the house. We're talking about it all the time," said Nevarre, a 17-year-old who plans to attend university next fall.
"It can be anything from the NFL to the peewee players that are coming up next."
Hitting the field with your brothers come game time is pretty special, too.
"Just to put in the work together and then to get out on the field and experience everything together is nice," Nevarre said.
"We have two of offence and two on defence, so we always have four perspectives on things. We'll talk about this one play and we'll have four different points of view."
The boys come from a strong athletic background. Michal, who was born in Poland and raised in Miramichi, was a member of Canada's track and field team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. His mother was a Poland national team hurdler and long jumper and his father was a national collegiate shot put champion.
Michal's brother, John Sokolowski, played football at both Mount Allison University and Acadia University and also went to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as a member of the Canadian bobsleigh team. His other brother, Matthew Sokolowski, is the head athletic trainer of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.
"I keep telling the boys to really concentrate on this season because it's something that is here now, but it will be gone in no time," Michal said.
"This is probably the last time they'll all play together at this level -- or any level actually -- before they go their separate ways, so I want them to really enjoy it."
Riverview High placed second in the league's Eastern Conference with a 5-1 record while Moncton High finished third at 3-3.
In another quarter-final, the two-time defending provincial champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders (6-0) host the Harrison Trimble Trojans (3-3) tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
Other quarter-finals will see the Fredericton High Black Kats (4-1) visit the Saint John High Greyhounds (5-0) tomorrow and the Hampton High Huskies (4-1) entertain the St. Malachy's Saints (4-1) Saturday.
Black Kats suddenly a force to be reckoned with in high school footballBy Mike Power
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Oct. 21
Appeared on page B3
Here are some thoughts and notes kicking around the notebook and the back of my head as I lay in my bed resting from a weekend of rock and roll and a severe head cold.
Fredericton High School Black Kats 44 OHS Blues 0.
Few things are done quietly in the sport of football, especially high school football, but the Black Kats have quietly run off five very convincing wins in a row.
The Kats lost their first two games, one an exhibition game that didn't count, and our focus wondered.
We thought it would be a toss-up who would win the division: the Black Kats or Hampton or Leo Hayes. Then the Blues got involved in the race and we continued to not notice that one of those four teams was playing much better than the other three as the season got late.
But after they thumped the Lions in Week 5 and pounded the Blues in the opening round of the playoffs. we can see that FHS is a much better team then we have been seeing them as being.
How good we will see this weekend when they have to go to Saint John to play the undefeated Saint John High School Greyhounds. If they get by the 'Hounds, and that is a huge if, can they match up with the east conference juggernauts MacNaughton and Riverview?
Who knows? The provincial high school football schedule is so out of kilter it is impossible to judge on past results of teams playing other teams. There were games played by the contenders against teams so woefully weak you just have to throw the results, records and stats out with them. The only way to tell which is truly the best team in the 2008 football season is to look at the scoreboard when the final whistle goes.