New Brunswick High School Football League
2009-In the News


Week 3: September 17-19

Chasing a Greyhound: Jake DeWolfe of the Fredericton High School Black Kats, left, closes in on Matt Doucet of the Saint John High Greyhounds in New Brunswick High School Football League action Saturday. Doucet had a pair of touchdowns in the Greyhounds’ 22-13 win.

Greyhounds runners prove tough to beat
High school football : Kats 'have work to do' after loss to Saint John at home

Neither rain, nor wind, nor bus, nor the Fredericton High School Black Kats could stop the Saint John High School Greyhounds Saturday afternoon.

The Greyhounds, playing their second game in Fredericton in as many weeks at the start of the New Brunswick High School Football League season, pounded out a 22-13 victory over the Black Kats in a Jungle that saw swirling winds, driving rain -- and too much Matt Doucet.

The Greyhounds' Grade 12 feature running back rumbled for touchdown runs of two and 22 yards and 102 yards overall, while rookie back Alex Peabody scooted 52 yards down the sideline for another major as the Hounds followed up last week's 23-7 win over Leo Hayes with another solid victory.

"It was tough through the middle," said Doucet. "But we got outside and figured that was the way to go. In the beginning, we were going through the middle, but they started catching on."

Quarterback Dallas Ballard had mixed results passing, as you might expect in tough conditions.

He threw just one pass in the first half, a 12 yard completion to wide receiver Sean Wedge on a third and five that kept the drive alive for their first touchdown -- and two in the second. One fell incomplete and the other was picked off by Kats defensive back Brett Stillwell.

But that was OK with Doucet.

"I think they play more of a passing game than a running game, so it worked to our advantage," said Doucet.

No matter. Between Doucet, Peabody and tough inside back Tyler MacKenny, the 'Hounds had plenty.

Peabody and MacKenny did a lot of the heavy running inside against the Kats defence, but it was Peabody's long dash up the right sideline, including a spin inside to dodge a tackle by linebacker Jayden Price, that proved the backbreaker for the Kats, boosting the lead from 15-7 to 22-7 at the time.

"You can't coach that stuff...that's all him," said coach Dave Grandy of the Grade 11 youngster who broke off a couple of other long gainers as well. "You've got to give him credit for keeping his legs moving and the spin move inside and pull away speed. A great day for our running backs today. It was a tough day to pass. Both teams were limited on what we could do on offence with these hurricane-like winds."

The Kats had trouble moving the sticks right from the start. They had backup Sam Furey in for the first series in what's called their "Jumbo offence", but they were three and out in that scheme. Veteran quarterback Jeff Madsen took the controls from there but had only limited success, manufacturing only two first downs in the first half. They didn't cross midfield in fact, until the third quarter, when they were already down 15-0 -- Alex Quinn had booted a 27 yard field goal to account for the Hounds' other points -- and big Justin Kearney rumbled across to the 54. On the next play, running back Kofi Bubar broke the longest play from scrimmage for the Kats on the day, breaking through a hole to rumble 30 yards on his own and, with an unnecessary roughness penalty tacked on, the Kats were first and goal from the two. Bubar took it in on the next play.

The Kats other touchdown was a 25 yard scoot down the left sideline by back Jason El Khoury with less than three minutes left, coming one play after they'd had a TD called back due to penalty.

But the absence of an aerial game hurt the Kats. Madsen completed just one pass in the first half, and that was for no gain. He connected on a couple on the Kats' last gasp drive late, but overall he was just four for 13 overall -- owing largely to the conditions, mind you. But he was hurried by a tough Saint John defence too.

"We didn't really think the wind was going to have as big an effect as it did, but you can't really throw the ball because the wind just takes it," said Bubar, who wasn't involved in the offence in the first half.

"We've got to get ourselves together. We were kind of relaxed I think, thinking we were going to beat them. But every time you do that, you don't come out on top."

Kats coach Mike Casey was succinct.

"I don't like the way we're playing right now," he said. "The offence isn't moving the ball. The defence is part of the defence comes up big, the next part doesn't. Offensively, it's pretty much the same thing...we've got a lot of work to do."

The win on opening weekend -- a 28-12 road win over Hampton -- might have hurt the Kats' cause more than helped, said Casey.

"That win left them with a bit of a mindset that they were going to be the ones this year," said Casey. "Congratulations, they're not. Not yet. They've got a ways to go. We have a really good group of athletes. It's just a matter of getting everybody focused. We've got a lot of weeks to do that."

They're home again next Saturday to iron out some of the wrinkles against the St. Malachy's High School Saints, a 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon kickoff in the Jungle. The Hounds are back in the neighbourhood too -- in Oromocto to face the Blues. It will be October 8 before they play their home opener.

"But I don't mind coming down here and winning, that's for sure," said Doucet.

"We're 2-0 on our road trip, and we're back again next weekend," said Grandy, who will also take his team to Hampton -- a four game swing to start the season -- before the Greyhounds have home cooking.

"It's always tough when you start on the road," said Grandy. "The schedule is what it is. I hope no other head coach or program in this league has to go through what we're going through, but I'm not making any excuses. It's football. The game's played on the field. We'll deal with it. The cards were dealt to us this way. We'll move forward."

Or at least to Oromocto for a Saturday 1 p.m. fixture. The Lions are home to Hampton Huskies under the lights at Chapman Field next Friday night., kicking off at 7 p.m.

Gang tackle: Josh Campbell of the Leo Hayes Lions (in white) is tackled by Oromocto High School Blues’ Courtney Brandon during New Brunswick High School Football League action at Leo Hayes Field Saturday. Campbell had a key touchdown in the Lions’ 14-13 win.
Reimer does a bit of everything for Lions
Multi-tasking | Impressive Lion dominant on both sides of the ball in grid win

In a few months, Peter Reimer of the Leo Hayes St. Mary's Lions will have to make some difficult decisions regarding his academic and athletic future, but for now he has more pressing matters on his mind - such as deciding which position he'll be playing on the football field next week.

Reimer, a multi-sport athlete who has Canadian universities knocking on his door, was all over the field Saturday, playing - and dominating - as many as eight positions for the Lions in a 14-13 win over the Oromocto Beaver Brokerage High School Blues in New Brunswick High School Football League action before 150 wind beaten fans at Leo Hayes Field.

The 17-year old senior, who is also student council president, is being pursued by a number of schools to attend their institutions as a football/soccer/basketball/volleyball player. Saturday, he started for the Lions at cornerback and wide receiver, and saw time catching and kicking balls on special teams.

Saturday, he even took snaps as quarterback to add a different dimension to the Lions attack.

"I like to call Peter Reimer "God" at practice because he is just so good," said Lions starting quarterback Derek Broad, who would end the game nine for 20 with 95 yards passing in leading the Lions to their first win of the season and evening their record at 1-1.

"He was unreal today, our offensive line played phenomenal today"¦everything is starting to come together for us."

It didn't seem like that at the outset however, as the Blues stuck for a major score on their first play of the game, with a screen pass from quarterback Jesse Rae to Nathan Heather at the three minute mark of the first quarter as the vaunted Oromocto aerial assault looked to be just getting warmed up under favorable weather conditions.

Not so fast.

The Lions came back 40 seconds later and on their first play of the next series reeled off a spectacular touchdown play of their own as running back Josh Campbell rambled through the Blues defense and sprinted 70 yards for paydirt.

The wind and rain became factors shortly thereafter and the game's complexion changed, forcing the teams to run more, pass less and come up with innovative ways to move the ball and maintain possession.

Enter Peter Reimer"¦and advantage Leo Hayes.

Reimer would get warmed up with the point after kick on the Campbell touchdown, before he faked two punts on Lion third downs in the first half (and more throughout the game), once running for a gain of 20 and the next time hitting starting middle linebacker, Mike Benson on a dandy throw for 30 yards, each resulting in a first down and continued Lion momentum and possession heading into the half, keeping the Blues vaunted offense off the field.

"CIS coaches call me to ask if we have any 'blue chip' prospects on our team"¦.and we have a few here, but Peter has really taken it up a notch for us this year," said Lions coach Rick Kelly. "He can play anywhere on the field and excel in any situation. He has in the past and he did it again today."

Reimer rolled up 326 yards of total offense for the Lions, including 143 yards from special team returns, including a 55-yard return for a touchdown late in the first half that, with the convert -- he kicked that too -- gave the Lions a 14-10 lead.

He also caught four passes from quarterback Derek Broad for 52 yards, while rushing for 59 on end-arounds and direct snaps. At quarterback, he completed one of two passes for 30 yards. On the other side of the ball, he intercepted three passes for a total of 42 yards on the returns.

Not bad for a guy who hadn't committed to football being his number one sport until this fall.

"I played Canada Games soccer this past summer but I decided to play football this fall (soccer and football seasons overlap) and I am looking at possibly playing football at University, but we'll have to see," said Reimer, who checks in at 6-3 and 180 pounds.

He has options. He plays varsity volleyball and basketball, as well as being a leader on the school debate team.

"I felt like we played a good game"¦after we got down 7-0 our first touchdown was the turning point (Campbell's), it seemed to give us energy and everyone seemed to come alive after that.," said Reimer.

The Blues' Josh Blanchard hit a 15 yard field goal with five minutes left in the half to put Oromocto on top 10-7, and with the two teams flip flopping the ball between fumbles, onside kicks and 'two and outs' it appeared that both teams were content to run out the clock and regroup for the second half.

Reimer had other ideas. He fielded a Blues' punt at midfield with 20 seconds left, found a seam, cut outside and avoided a thundering herd of Blues defenders as he sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown. Add the convert, and suddenly, the Lions were up 14-10 at the half.

"That punt return was unreal the way Peter put his stutter down and pushed out the the sideline the way he did," said Kelly. "Once he gets outside like that, he's gone."

The second half was largely uneventful, both teams struggling with penalties, fumbles and inconsistency on offense, primarily due to the inclement weather conditions. The only scoring was a 35-yard field goal by the Blues' Josh Blanchard to start the fourth quarter.

Reimer set the tone on OHS's first possession of the second half, intercepting Rae and running it back 20 yards before being brought down at the OHS three yard line. Campbell fumbled on the next play though, denying the Lions a chance to extend their lead.

The Blues mounted a last gasp drive with a little under two minutes left.

Rae started to connect with his receivers on a drive with a little under two minutes left.

Mitchell McCoy looked as though he had a 35 yard pass for a first down at the Blues 40 yard line, but Reimer jumped in and stole a juggling ball, returning it for 15 yards and his second interception of the half.

Less than a minute later, after a two and out for LHH, and on OHS's 42 yard line, Rae threw a 10 yard pass to star receiver Heather. He had possession briefly on his way out of bounds, but Reimer came out of nowhere to knock the ball loose and force third down.

On the ensuing play the Reimer would pick off a 35 yard Rae pass with 42 seconds left in the game on the Lions' 45 yard line and return it 25 yards to end any hope the Blues had to kick a field goal or score before regulation would expire.

In addition to Reimer's gaudy all purpose yardage, Campbell added 125 yards rushing on 18 carries, including his TD run.

Blues fullback, Mitchell Player, ran for 51 yards from 12 carries, while the Blues QB Rae would have a line of 11 for 25 and 150 yards with four picks. Nathan Heather and Josh Blanchard were Rae's primary targets as Heather hauled in 5 passes for 53 yards and a TD. Blanchard gained 64 yards on 7 receptions, while kicking the two Oromocto field goals and a point after.

Both coaches felt that the conditions were difficult and brought out the best, and worst, in their teams.

"I'm very proud of my team today," said Kelly. "We suffered a tough loss last week and the word of the week for us at practice was 'focus'"¦my guys rose to the challenge, they showed courage and sportsmanship this last week and especially today."

Oromocto's coach was frustrated with the result but optimistic of better days to come.

"Although I thought we did a lot of good things today, every time we needed a big play we had to fight that wind," said Blues head coach Rob Wilson. "Leo Hayes played hard, they ran the ball well today and ate up a lot of clock"¦I'll be surprised if we didn't come back well from this. The guys on our team have the character to come back from this and we will." Oromocto will be at home this Saturday to host the Saint John Greyhounds, fresh off a 22-13 victory over the Fredericton High Black Kats, with a 1 p.m. start time at OHS field. The Lions will host the Hampton Huskies on Friday night as they square off with the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year, 10-7. The game will be played at Chapman Field under the lights at 7 p.m.

Grid Matadors upset with deadlock
Rothesay Red Hawks gain 15-15 tie as time expires

Mathieu-Martin Matadors couldn't hide their disappointment.

Rothesay High Red Hawks evened the score as regulation time expired as they rallied to tie the Matadors 15-15 in a New Brunswick High School Football League 10-man division game Saturday afternoon in Dieppe.

As time wound down in the fourth quarter, the Matadors took an unnecessary roughness penalty to give the Red Hawks the ball on Mathieu-Martin's five-yard line. Red Hawks passed for a touchdown on the next play to make the score 15-13 then they ran in a two-point convert to tie the game.

"Our guys were pretty upset and disappointed as they left the field, but we learned some valuable lessons," said Matadors head coach Shane Mosher.

"Our defence did a very good job most of the game, but we failed to execute a few plays and it hurt us," Mosher said. "We could have won the game. We respect Rothesay, but they didn't really shut us down as much as we shot ourselves in the foot."

Quarterback Xavier Couture, on a five-yard rush off an option, and receiver Marc Boucher, on a one-yard pass from Couture, had touchdowns for the Matadors.

Matadors and Red Hawks each have 0-1-1 records.

"We saw some positive things and we saw some things we still have to work if we're going to keep improving as a team," Mosher said.

Meanwhile, the Sussex High Sonics ran their record to 2-0 by blanking l'Odyssee Olympiens 20-0 in a 10-man division game Friday night at Rocky Stone Memorial Field. Olympiens are 0-2.

"Sussex has a very well-coached and well-prepared football team," said Olympiens head coach Terry Kennedy. "They took advantage of our inexperience at some positions.

"They also scored off a blocked punt so our defence was only on the field for touchdowns against so that's a good sign for our young team," Kennedy said.

"We got hurt by some big plays. They had some big gains on reverses and counters and misdirections so those are things we have to be aware of. We're going to be working on those things in practice."

There were times in the game when the Olympiens had four Grade 9 players on the field at once.

"It's a learning curve and we're getting better," the coach said. "Sussex coaches were telling us most of their players have been together for about four years, through peewee, bantam and now high school. You can tell how well they've come together as a team."

Olympiens visit the Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders on Friday night and the Matadors entertain the Sonics on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mathieu-Martin.

In the 12-man league, Riverview High Royals (1-0-1) host the Harrison Trimble Trojans (0-2) on Friday at 4 p.m. at RHS and the Tantramar Titans (0-1) clash with the Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders (1-1) at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.

Fredericton High School’s Ryan Murphy, centre, is taken down by Saint John High Greyhounds’ Keith Linares, left, and Jordan Lawrence during 12-man football action Saturday in Fredericton. The Greyhounds won 23-14.
Greyhounds run wild against Fredericton
High school: Rothesay and Mathieu Martin fight to draw

FREDERICTON - Matt Doucet had two touchdowns to lead the Saint John Greyhounds to a 23-13 win over the Fredericton Black Kats in 12-man football South West Conference action.

Doucet's scores came off a two-yard run and 22-yard dash, for 102 yards-gained overall by the feature running back. Alex Quinn added a 15-yard field goal and conversion while Alex Peabody contributed a 20-yard rushing touchdown for Saint John, now 2-0.

In 10-man South East Conference action, the Rothesay Red Hawks and Mathieu Martin Matadors ground to a 15-15 tie. The Matadors pulled ahead using a rushing touchdown from quarterback Xavier Couture, a touchdown pass received by Mark Boucher and single-point punt and rouge from Justin Cormier and Pierre-Luc Michaud respectively. Rothesay battled back with two passing touchdowns and one and two-point conversions.

The Matadors and Red Hawks each have 0-1-1 records.

Meanwhile, the St. Stephen Spartans used four touchdowns from Kurtis Delaney to bombard the Harbour View Vikings 69-6. Delaney had 222 yards on eight carries, to go along wth a 70-yard touchdown off a kick-off return.

Scott Bell contributed for 184 yards on 12 carries with two rushing touchdowns, Gage Ross added 85 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns while Kurt Helpert chipped in for a rushing touchdown. Luke Hayre was nine for 10 on conversions for the Spartans, now 1-1.

On Friday, Sussex improved to 2-0 by blanking Ecole L'Odyssee, of Moncton, 20-0. Trevor Seymour had a 45-yard return off a punt in the first quarter, while Mike Brown scored two touchdowns on reversals. Aaron Tabor kicked two conversions in the winning effort, as L'Odyssee slipped to 0-2.

Pat Camerom of MacNaughton Highlanders tries to take down J.P. Bowie of Riverview High Royals during high school football action yesterday in Riverview.
Purple Knights blank football Trojans
Royals edge Highlanders in high school action

Moncton High Purple Knights delivered a resounding message yesterday and defensive captain Brett Gray admitted it was a long time coming.

Purple Knights blanked the Harrison Trimble Trojans 31-0 in a New Brunswick High School Football League game at Rocky Stone Memorial Field to extend their season-opening undefeated streak to three games.

"We haven't had a winning season at Moncton High for a very long time so this means a lot to the team and the school," said Gray, 17-year-old middle linebacker.

"For the team, it means people are going to notice and we could have a lot of players go on to play university football in the future," the Grade 12 student added. "For the school, it should go a long way to improving school spirit and getting people excited about the football team again."

Purple Knights, who won the provincial title seven years ago after a 3-3 regular season and made the playoffs last year for the first time since that championship season, improved their record to 2-0-1 while the Trojans are 0-2.

Meanwhile, the Riverview High Royals edged the three-time defending provincial champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders 7-6 in Riverview.

Royals are 1-0-1 and the Highlanders are 1-1.

Gray soaked in the Purple Knights victory over their long-time rivals.

"It feels real good to have this kind of a record early in the season," the defensive captain said. "I've been playing since Grade 10. This is what I've been waiting for.

"When I came off the field today, I had a big smile and I don't think there was anyway to get it off my face."

After a scoreless opening quarter, the Purple Knights struck for a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. Quarterback Dylan Rogers connected with Matt Toogood for a 20-yard major and Matt Simon slipped into the end zone on a five-yard run.

Rogers, on a 35-yard run, and Simon, with a three-yard plunge, added touchdowns in the second half.

Lucas Constantine kicked four converts and a 15-yard field goal.

"Everything was working on offence and defence," Gray said. "On defence, we just stayed cool and did our jobs. We didn't get too excited like we might have done in previous years.

"We know it's good to have a winning record now, but there are still a lot of tough games to play. We want to keep playing the same way and not look too far ahead."

Trojans coach Mark Teed called the lopsided loss a "wake-up call" for his team.

"We got outplayed offensively, defensively and on special teams," Teed said. "Moncton High was the better team today.

"We'll see them again later in the season and it's still early. We need to start making some more plays and we need a better effort."

In Riverview, running back Brett McNeil rushed for a 45-yard touchdown for the Royals and Casey Glenen added the convert.

All of the scoring came in the first half.

The loss was MacNaughton's first since Sept. 29, 2006, when they were beaten 10-3 by the Tantramar Titans.

"MacNaughton has been a dominant team so it feels good to beat them even though it wasn't our best game," said Royals coach Guy Messervier.

"They've given us a lot of grief over the years," he said. "It's good for our program to get a win against them. It also shows how close the league is going to be this year. There are going to be a lot of close games."


Knights, Trojans clash on gridiron
Prelude to annual Homecoming Game set for tomorrow

The annual Homecoming Game between the Harrison Trimble Trojans and Moncton High Purple Knights is easily one of the most anticipated games each season in the New Brunswick High School Football League.

What is better than one regular-season meeting between the city rivals? How about two.

The Trojans and Purple Knights clash in a 12-man division game tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Moncton's Rocky Stone Memorial Field. It's a prelude to the Homecoming Game Oct. 9.

Since the division's Eastern Conference was reduced to five teams this season from seven a year ago, each team plays two other teams twice, allowing for another edition of the storied rivalry.

"Any time Harrison Trimble and Moncton High play in any sport, it's quite a rivalry, especially in football," said Trojans head coach Mark Teed.

"We're excited for a second game against them and I'm sure they'll be pumped up to play us."

Harrison Trimble is coming off a 27-13 loss to the Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders in its first game of the season last week. The teams were tied 13-13 at the break until the three-time defending New Brunswick champions broke open the game in the second half.

"We were happy with our play, but we got outplayed in the second half and that teaches us that we need to play four solid quarters against Moncton High," Teed said.

"We've seen them play and they've shown a balanced offence and some very athletic defensive backs. We'll be in a game, no doubt."

Moncton High is 1-0-1 after thumping the Tantramar Titans 45-7 last week and playing the Riverview High Royals to a 21-21 tie in its season opener, a game it nearly won in the dying seconds.

The Purple Knights are showing signs of turning the corner. They made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2003 and already have three points, half of what they had in all of last season.

"We were rebuilding for years, but we're not really rebuilding any more," said Moncton High head coach John Allanach, who has a large group of returning players. "We were competitive last year and we're competitive this year."

Still, Allanach said there is plenty of room for improvement on his club and expects a tough challenge from the Trojans.

"It looks like they are one of the top teams in the conference. They have a sound ground game and a veteran quarterback (John Toogood)," the coach said.

"We know Harrison Trimble will make plays and we just want to make more plays. We have a long way to go to get to where we want to be, but we're working on those details daily."

Also tomorrow, Riverview High (0-0-1) hosts Bernice MacNaughton (1-0) at 4 p.m. Tantramar (0-1) has a bye week.

In the 10-man division, the l'Odyssée Olympiens (0-1) entertain the Sussex Sonics (1-0) tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Rocky Stone. The Mathieu-Martin Matadors (0-1) host the Rothesay High Red Hawks (0-1) Saturday at 1 p.m. in Dieppe.

Senior fullback Mitchell Player, left, of the Oromocto High School Blues is one of the key offensive weapons for the provincial high school football league team this season. Player and the Blues were 31-0 winners over the St. Malachy’s High School Saints in their season opener last Friday night in Saint John. The Blues play at the Leo Hayes High Lions Saturday at Leo Hayes Field at 1 p.m.
Expanded talent pool for football Blues

Rob Wilson was "very encouraged" by how the Oromocto High School Blues played in their New Brunswick High School League season opener, a 31-0 road win a week ago against the St. Malachy's Saints.

Now he has to make sure it doesn't go to the helmets.

The Blues take on the Leo Hayes Lions at 1 p.m. Saturday at LHHS field. The Lions are smarting from Saturday's 23-7 setback to the visiting Saint John High Greyhounds.

Wilson, who's in his sixth season as head coach, has reinforced that in practice.

"No team wants to go 0-2 to start the season," Wilson said. "So that's going to be one very hungry Leo Hayes team coming out of the blocks. Our kids have to be ready to meet that challenge."

The Blues were one of four teams jockeying for first in the six-team Western Division last season. OHS placed third with a 3-2 record (the same as LHHS), but was blown out in the first round of the playoffs, losing 44-0 to the Fredericton High School Black Kats.

But the Blues opened this season with a bang.

"We probably did a little better than we expected," Wilson said. "Historically, we're a little bit slow out of the gate because we're waiting for our military kids to get back from their holidays. But we have 36 kids, which is the largest group we've ever had in my 12 years with the program."

Last September, for instance, the Blues only dressed 27 players (22 with football experience) for an exhibition game against the Saints and were spanked 34-14.

Wilson and offensive coordinator Ron Squires have long tried "to install players on both sides of the ball," Wilson said. "That's been our goal, instead of having eight, nine guys going both ways. It's hurt us because we just haven't had the numbers.

"This year, we're actually looking at three or four positions where we feel people can come in and are more than adequate in those positions - as a third receiver, a third defensive end, a third corner ... so this is probably the deepest group we've ever had," he said.

"But certainly we're leaning on a number of our seniors."

Grade 12 quarterback Jesse Rae looked sharp in the season opener, helping the Blues built a 28-0 halftime lead.

"We expect a lot from Jesse," Wilson said. "He's attended a lot of camps and he has a good arm for high school ball. He's probably one of the best quarterbacks in the province."

Canada Games wrestler Mitch Player, a senior fullback, is in tip-top shape. Fleet-footed Peter Wilde, up from the bantam ranks, "impressed everyone" in the opener with a 50-yard touchdown run.

"We're excited about our backfield," Wilson said.

Wideout Josh Blanchard and slot Nathan Heather are the primary receivers.

"I can't imagine anyone being better in the league," Wilson said of the two seniors.

Grade 11 rookie Mitch McCoy, at the other slot, "is playing like he's been in the league for a while," the coach said, and Pat Haley, the other wideout, "had a great camp. We've got a really nice receiving corps."

Dave Blanchard coaches the linemen and Wilson feels the offensive line "will take a while to grow."

"We've put in a lot of new material. There's a big learning curve for them with the playbook and they're all new kids except for one."

The defence pitched a shutout in the opener.

"The defence looked good," Wilson said. "We were put in a couple of bad positions and got out of them. The defence was very aggressive and we were going forward. It's been a long time since we've been moving forward and our tackling was great."

Defensive tackle Matt Fagan, who's in Grade 11, "had an amazing day" and senior Gary Girvan "leads the young linebacker group."

The Blues' home opener is next Saturday, Sept. 26, against the Greyhounds. OHS plays at FHS Oct. 3 and travels to Hampton a week later. The Blues complete the regular season by hosting Leo Hayes Oct. 17 and Hampton Oct. 24.

"We don't take anything for granted," Wilson said. "We beat St. Mac's, but when you get a 'W' in high school, you're just happy to get it and you move on. Until you get a couple of games under your belt, you don't know who's good and who's weak.

"We're telling our team 'Forget about last week. Let's focus on Leo Hayes.' "

The top four teams in the six-team Southwestern Conference advance to semifinals Oct. 30-31, with the conference final the following weekend.

The winner will face the Eastern Conference survivor for the Ed Skiffington Trophy Nov. 14 at Rocky Stone field in Moncton.

"We have one goal every year: make the playoffs and then go as far as we can go," Wilson said. "Certainly the ultimate goal is to win the championship. Only one team does it. It doesn't mean the other teams have failed."

Wilson expects the Blues to be challenged on a weekly basis in the 12-man league. The province's weaker teams are now part of an eight-team 10-man division.

He scanned the 10-man scores from the weekend and was pleased to see the Moncton-area Francophone schools in tight games.

L'Odyssee Olympiens lost 18-17 to the Simonds Seabees while the Mathieu-Martin Matadors lost 31-25 to the Harbour View Vikings. "I'm very happy for the 10-man (teams)," Wilson said. "That's the only way to go. To see those schools competing, after (struggling) the last few years, is much better for the kids and the coaches."

Returning quarterback Jeff Madsen, left, goes over the basic fundamental of handing off the football to running back Jake DeWolfe during Tuesday’s practice for the Fredericton High School Black Kats. Madsen is coming off a huge opening-game performance against the Hampton Huskies in a 28-12 victory last Saturday in Hampton. Kats host Saint John High Greyhounds on Saturday.
Nothin' but a Hound dog haunting Kats

The Fredericton High School Black Kats 2008 football season ended the way it started: with a loss to the Saint John High Greyhounds.

The Greyhounds came to FHS field for an exhibition contest and left 'The Jungle' with a 20-7 victory. In the second round of the playoffs, Saint John ended the Kats' season with a 34-13 romp.

In between, FHS played some pretty good football. The Kats lost their regular season opener 43-21 to the Hampton Huskies, mind you, but proceeded to reel off five straight wins, outscoring opponents 194-39.

FHS is off to a better start already this season, beating Hampton 28-12 on the road Saturday.

Now the Kats are gearing up for Saturday's home opener against the Greyhounds. Kick off is 1 p.m. at FHS field.

FHS second-year head coach Mike Casey gave his players a quick refresher in practice. He likened the Greyhounds to the old Boston Bruins of the NHL.

"You may beat them on the scoreboard," Casey said, "but, boy, you know you've been in a game. Saint John's always got a good core of kids. They're always a tough team, a physical team.

"Of course, our biggest fear with Saint John is their running game. They always manage to find some behemoth, who can run a 4.5 40."

Saint John opened the regular season with a 23-7 win over the Leo Hayes Lions.

The Lions are home again Saturday to face the Oromocto High School Blues, who beat the St. Malachy's Saints 31-0 on the road. Game time is 1 p.m. at LHHS field.

FHS has 50 players, including 17 returnees "split about equally on both sides of the ball," Casey said. "Certainly the core of kids who are back are very important."

Against Hampton, Grade 12 quarterback Jeff Madsen hooked up with receiver Ryan Murphy for touchdown strikes of 60 and 32 yards to give FHS halftime lead.

Garrett Gee's 15-yard TD scamper opened up a 21-12 cushion after three quarters.

"Obviously Jeff Madsen coming back is huge," Casey said. "He had a very good opening day - he and Ryan Murphy both. Having Ryan back is another big plus, along with centre Julien Vautour."

Casey has taken several defensive players and moved them to the offensive side to make up for the loss of running backs Devin Kearney and Johnny Morse.

For instance, extremely fit defensive back Jason El-Khoury is now at halfback while linebackers Kofi Bubar and Doug Nash have shifted from linebacker to fullback.

Dependable Dylan DesMeules is returning running back.

Murphy, Robert Young, Adam Jones and Justin Kearney are returning receivers. Peter Esson, who converted all four FHS majors Saturday, and Gee, up from JV, will also have balls thrown their way.

New offensive coordinator O.J. Burnett plans to make use of everyone, Casey said. Burnett replaces Jeff Taylor, who's gone to coach the receivers for the new Fredericton-UNB Red Bombers.

"O.J. was with me last year as a special teams coach and he called a great game on Saturday," Casey said.

"He really spread the ball around to a lot of receivers, with a good split between passing and running. That was unlike the Huskies, who kind of ran student body left, student body right."

On defence, DBs Andrew Bourque and Joey Ley return "and are going to make a difference," Casey said.

Jaden Price (formerly Jaden Clark) and impressive newcomer Jake DeWolfe are linebackers. Basketball guard Nathan Mazurkiewicz, fellow DB Brett Stillwell and LB Shawn Reid also had "big games" against Hampton.

Casey says he hasn't coached a team "with more athletes on it than this one. I don't have a lot of big guys, maybe 12, so the bulk of the team is 205 (pounds) and under. A lot of them are in phenomenal shape. It's a little scary standing out on the practice field watching 10-12 guys running around with six-packs."

"(Receiver) Drew Graham just blew our socks off in testing. He ran a sub-six-minute mile and is the fastest guy on the team."

Casey likes the way the season is shaping up in more ways than one.

"I think we're going to be a contender," he said. "We're quite happy with what we see. We've still got a lot of work to do. Our biggest problem right now is depth. We've got 50 on the roster, but a lot of them are Grade 12 kids who didn't play last year or didn't even play football before."

The Black Kats are beginning a three-game homestand. They also host St. Mac's Sept. 26 and OHS Oct. 3.

At the latter, the team will retire the number 92 FHS jersey of former Bishop's University star Dan McCullough, now long snapper with the CFL's B.C. Lions.

McCullough won't be able to make it home - B.C. plays the Alouettes the night before - but his brother Dave and mother Joanne Levison will be on hand for the presentation.

FHS wraps up the regular season by crossing the bridge to play the Lions in North-South Bowl IX Oct. 9 and travelling to Saint John for a rematch with the Greyhounds Oct. 16.

The top four teams in the six-team Southwestern Conference advance to semifinals Oct. 30-31, with the conference final the following weekend.

The winner will face the Eastern Conference survivor for the Ed Skiffington Trophy Nov. 14 at Rocky Stone field in Moncton.

The Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders, who beat Moncton-rival Harrison Trimble Trojans 27-13 in the season opener, are three-time reigning champions. One of those wins came against FHS.