Week 10: November 6-7: Semi-Finals
|Sussex Sonics Sean DeWinter and Jeremy Walker converge on Mathieu-Martin Matadors running back Gilbert Deguire during their New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association 10-man division semi-final in Sussex Nov. 7. Sussex defeated Mathieu-Martin 25-0 and moves on to the provincial final at Monctonís Rocky Stone Memorial Field Nov. 14 versus the St. Stephen Spartans. The Spartans were 40-8 winners over the Harbour View Vikings in the other semi-final.|
Grid Matadors fall to Sonics
By Dwayne Tingley
Published In the Times-Transcript on Monday November 9, 2009
Appeared on page B1
SUSSEX - Sussex Regional High Sonics, led by a stingy defensive unit that has allowed just 21 points in eight games, have earned a spot in the New Brunswick High School Football League's 10-man division final in just their second season.
Sonics, coming off a 7-0 record during the regular season, defeated the visiting Mathieu-Martin Matadors 25-0 in a semifinal game here Saturday afternoon.
Sonics have recorded six shutout victories in eight games.
St. Stephen Spartans beat the Harbour View Vikings of Saint John 40-8 in the other semifinal in St. Stephen.
Spartans and Sonics will meet for the 10-man division championship on Saturday at noon at Rocky Stone Memorial Field in Moncton. Sonics beat the Spartans 10-0 in the opening game of the season two months ago.
Sonics won just one game in the 12-man league last year, when there was no 10-man division.
Sonics were led to victory by their defence, which forced three fumbles, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, three interceptions and three quarterback sacks. Josh Gullison had two interceptions, recovered a fumble for a 38-yard touchdown run and stripped the ball from a Matadors ball carrier for another long gain. He was also in on several key tackles.
Trevor Seymour, on a two-yard run, and Robert Dunfield, on a nine-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Tabor, also had touchdowns for the Sonics, who led 4-0 at halftime. Tabor also kicked a 33-yard field goal.
Sonics head coach George Parisella said the defence relies on its depth to wear down opponents.
"They were awesome and they've had an awesome season," Parisella said. "Those guys have been playing football together for a few years and they work well together.
"We're fortunate enough to have a good group of subs and the level of play doesn't drop off when they get in the game," the coach said. "It keeps everyone fresh.
"Our offence has been strong, but it's the defence that has led the way most of the year."
Meanwhile, Moncton High Purple Knights and Harrison Trimble Trojans will meet in the 12-man division final, scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
Purple Knights beat the Fredericton High Black Kats 17-6 and Trojans downed the Saint John High Greyhounds 20-14 in semifinal games Friday night.
Moncton High defeated Trimble 31-0 and 13-12 in their regular season meetings this season.
|Moncton High School Purple Knights quarterback Dylan Rogers dives for yardage as he is stopped by Fredericton Black Kats Kofi Bubar, left, and Reece Cain during the first quarter at Rocky Stone Memorial Field in Moncton.|
Purple Knights, Trojans to clash
|Matt Doucet of the Saint John Greyhounds is tackled by Eric Boucher, left, and Justin Nickerson of Harrison Trimble Friday.||Quarterback John Toogood of Harrison Trimble breaks through for the game-winning touchdown against Saint John Greyhounds in the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association 12-man division semifinal Friday.|
'Hounds fall to Trojans
NBIAA: Harrison Trimble rallies in second half to advance to provincial 12-man division final
By Jon MacNeill
Published In the Telegraph-Journal on Saturday November 7, 2009
Appeared on page C10
SAINT JOHN - The Harrison Trimble Trojans are on their way to a storybook finish for their high school football season.
After starting the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association 12-man campaign with three losses the Trojans battled to secure a playoff spot and dropped defending champions the Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders 10-7 in quarterfinal action last week.
Now, after dealing another upset to the Saint John Greyhounds in a 20-14 semifinal victory Friday night at Millidgeville Field, the Trojans will play in the championship game for the first time since 2001.
"Starting the season with three losses it would have been really easy for a team to fold up the tent and quit at that point, but these guys kept coming back trying to get better every game," Trojans head coach Mark Teed said.
But surrendering isn't in the Trojans playbook and that was the story Friday night, as the team battled back from a 14-6 deficit in the third quarter under frigid conditions to keep their season alive.
Saint John struck first when Alex Peabody found a seam and carried the ball in for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Alex Quinn was good on the convert as the Greyhounds took a 7-0 lead with 8:08 remaining in the half.
The Trojans responded in their next offensive series, driving from their 43-yard line with carries from Brett Robart and Justin Nickerson. Steve Fox, a pivotal cog in the Trojans' offence, reeled in a 10-yard pass from quarterback John Toogood to set up inside the Greyhounds 5-yard line.
Matt Seely punched it through but the extra point attempt failed as Saint John held a 7-6 advantage heading into the second half.
The Greyhounds marched down the field in the third quarter using running gains from Matt Doucet, Sean Slader and Peabody. Doucet completed the drive on a 25-yard pass-and-run play from quarterback Dallas Ballard that was converted by Quinn for a 14-6 lead.
Enter the smooth-handed Fox, who reeled in a couple of key passes up the middle to set the Trojans within striking distance. A short drive from McArty gave the Trojans a first down and a Saint John penalty set them on the Greyhounds doorstep, where Toogood punched it through on a quarterback sneak.
Fox received a wide pass for a two-point conversion as Harrison Trimble tied it up 14-14 with 6:17 left in the game.
"They've got a great tall receiver and he (Fox) was just sitting in holes behind the linebackers, it was a nicely designed offence like that," Greyhounds coach Dave Grandy said.
The Trojans defence stopped the Greyhounds from getting anywhere in their next series. Starting from the Saint John 35-yard line, the Trojans eventually stole the lead on another quarterback sneak by Toogood with just under four minutes left in the game.
"Our boys fought hard to the final whistle, we didn't quit but we just came out a little short," Grandy said.
The Greyhounds rallied in the closing minutes but couldn't get within striking distance as the Trojans defence staved off both running and aerial attacks.
"Saint John's running attack is pretty vicious, so we made some adjustments after halftime to slow it down. Our defence has been the heart and soul of our club all year and they really stepped it up in the second half," said Teed, who's Trojans only managed two wins in the regular season.
"These guys put in a lot of hard work this year so to come up short is pretty tough," Grandy said after giving his team a final address in their end zone after the match.
"We left some points on the board early in the first half, we fumbled on the five-yard line and missed a field goal so there's potentially 10 points that we didn't capitalize on.
"But (Harrison Trimble) are a big physical team with a skilled quarterback and I wish them all the best in the final next weekend."
The Trojans will face rivals the Moncton High Purple Knights to battle for the Ed Skiffington Trophy next Saturday. The Purple Knights advanced by dropping Fredericton High 17-6 in semifinal action Friday night in Moncton.
Trojans hope to ground Greyhounds
Harrison Trimble meets Saint John in high school football semifinal
Published In the Times-Transcript on Friday November 6, 2009
Appeared on page D1
Harrison Trimble Trojans are approaching tonight's New Brunswick High School Football League semifinal game like a business trip.
"We're going to Saint John to take care of business," head coach Mark Teed said yesterday. "If we take care of business, we'll have more business next weekend in Moncton and that would make us all very happy."
Trojans, fresh off their opening round upset victory over the three-time provincial champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders, visit the Saint John High Greyhounds tonight. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Millidgeville Field.
Moncton High Purple Knights host the Fredericton High Black Kats in the other semifinal tonight. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field. Semifinal winners will advance to the championship game on Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. at Rocky Stone.
Trojans won just two of their six regular season games in the Eastern Conference while the Greyhounds were 5-2 in the Western Conference, but Teed doesn't believe his team should be called underdogs.
"Just based on the standings, I can see how people would take us lightly, but there's a lot more to our season than just wins and losses," said Teed, in his third season as head coach of the Trojans.
"You have to look at the scores of those games and how we lost," he said. "We were in every game except the one Moncton High blew us out. We had a chance to win the rest of those games.
"Now that we're starting to play up to our potential, we've earned the right to play in this big semifinal game. Now, we want to make the most of that opportunity."
Teed credited his coaching staff for preparing the Trojans for their playoff run.
"We've got 11 coaches and all of them, but one played for this team," said Teed, who was a member of the Trojans from 1994-97. "They all know what it takes to win and to succeed at this level.
"They all did a lot of one-on-one time with our players. Even when things were not going so well this year, they continued to work hard with the players and the players have responded in a big way."
Teed has talked to other coaches and viewed video tape of the Greyhounds, but he doesn't know much about the Saint John High squad.
"I know they have a very physical and fast team so we're preparing for a tough test," he said.
Meanwhile, the provincial 10-man league semifinals are scheduled for tomorrow at 1 p.m. Mathieu-Martin Matadors visit the undefeated Sussex Sonics and the St. Stephen Spartans host the Harbour View Vikings of Saint John.
The championship game is scheduled for Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
|Curtis Green, left, and Adam Stewart are two of the Saint John Greyhounds who participate in the Lineman Luncheon, the teamís way of saying thanks to the players in the trenches who do the dirty work on the football field.|
Hogs devour big-boy buffet
By Kevin Barrett
Published In the Telegraph-Journal on Thursday November 5, 2009
Appeared on page B7
They are the linemen. Football's big boys.
The young men in the trenches take the body shots, grind open holes for fleet-footed teammates and smile quietly in the shadows when the spotlight shifts to those popular weapons on offence.
Often, they accomplish their tasks with little or no fanfare.
But each year, the Saint John Greyhounds coaching staff rewards their towers of power with what's come to be known as the Lineman Luncheon - a bonding and morale-boosting dining event so eagerly anticipated, the boys begin to lick their lips in preparation for an annual all-you-can eat buffet the moment training camp begins.
"It is basically a free-for-all," said fourth-year senior Adam Stewart, a six-foot-four, 240-pound centre. "We are a bunch of linemen and when they say, 'free food', we say, 'OK'."
Consumption is so great, at times, it impacts the performance at practice later in the day. "There can be some puking," Stewart said.
As the season unfolds though, the performance of the big men is critical to the success of the Greyhounds, whose main goal is a provincial 12-man division football title in the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association.
And while the top scorers generate the publicity, the recognition of free grub for grunt work is appreciated by those wearing the XL and XXL jerseys.
"We are just a bunch of Hoggies," said five-foot-11, 235-pound senior tackle and guard Curtis Green. "We look forward to this all season."
While quarterbacks are rated by passing yards and touchdown throws, the lineman chow down with an eye on their own standards - the record for most pizza slices eaten.
The long-standing mark is 28 (not including appetizers, salad and pasta) but Rane Griffin gave it a run with 17 pieces late last week.
"All of the linemen are close," said Green, a second-year player who took up the sport after he was encouraged by fellow senior Justin Nathan, another prominent member of the Hogs.
"I think we are the hardest working group of players on a football team."
As the tradition of the lineman's meal evolves, another is gaining steam as well - the Greyhounds success in the post-season and their annual potential for a provincial title.
In the past four regular seasons, the Greyhounds are 20-4, and only the Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders have won more games at the 12-man level in that period.
Last season, Saint John, backed by a strong line on both sides of the ball, advanced to the provincial final, before losing 33-14 to the Highlanders.
"It was a real heartbreaker when you get that close," Stewart said.
This year, the Greyhounds went 5-2 in the regular season but have won four straight after two narrow setbacks to Oromocto and Hampton evened their record at 2-2 in mid-season.
Since then, they have outscored opposition 141-33.
"We really stepped it up at practice after those two losses," Green said.
Friday, the Hounds host Harrison Trimble at 7 p.m. at Millidgeville Field where a win will lift them to the provincial final again - against either Moncton or Fredericton.
SEMIFINAL SATURDAY: The 10-man division semifinals are slated for Saturday with No. 1 seeded Sussex entertaining Mathieu-Martin of Moncton at 1 p.m. and St. Stephen hosting Harbour View, also at 1 p.m.
Earlier in the season, Sussex shaded Mathieu-Martin 21-14 in the closest game of the season for the 7-0 Sonics, who have outscored their opponents 198-21 this season.
"We felt we left some points on the field that game but at the same time, it showed even though we went 7-0, we are not invincible," said Sussex quarterback Aaron Tabor. "We have to come to play."
The Spartans defeated Harbour view 69-6 on Sept. 19. St. Stephen head coach Neil Grant is expecting a much tighter affair in the 10-man semifinal.
"The regular season was the regular season," Grant said. "We treat every game like our competition is the best team we can play."
St. Stephen has the best points for-against ratio (plus-222) in the province this year but Grant knows it will take a team effort to slow the Harbour View attack
While senior runner Brett Saunders is a key for the Vikings, there is more to prepare for, Grant said.
"We never look at one individual," he said.
"We just see the colour of their jerseys. We are going to play Spartan football. We are committed to running our offence and stopping the other team's offence."
Last weekend, Harbour View advanced with a 30-21 victory over Rothesay in the quarter-final. Mathieu-Martin shaded Kennebecasis Valley 14-13 in the other quarter-final.
The championship game goes Nov. 14 in Moncton.
Kevin Barrett is a sports reporter with the Telegraph-Journal. His Varsity View column appears Thursdays during the school athletic calendar. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Purple Knights ready to face Black Kats