|High school football to feature 10 and 12-man
Matadors expect to be competitive in revamped format
By Dwayne Tingley
Published In the Times-Transcript on June 4, 2009
Appeared on page B1
Mathieu-Martin Matadors want to change their image.
Matadors are among eight teams that will compete in the new 10-man division of the New Brunswick High School Football League and that's just the beginning.
They will also get a modern locker room in the school and new uniforms. In fact, the team will hold and open house and pizza party in the locker room today at lunch time.
"We want these players to feel good about themselves," head coach Shane Mosher said yesterday.
"We want to build an image and a football program everyone can be proud of," he said. "In the past, they've had fun with barbecues and other team-bonding activities, but they want to be competitive and have more fun by getting some wins.
"By going into the 10-man league, the goal is to be competitive and have a chance to win every time they step on the field."
All eight teams in the 10-man league played in the provincial 12-man league last year, but the St. Stephen Spartans (3-2) were the only club to have a winning record.
Other teams in the new league, with last year's record in brackets, are: Mathieu-Martin (1-5), L'Odyssee Olympiens (0-6), Rothesay Red Hawks (1-4), Harbour View Vikings (0-5), Simonds Seabees (2-3), Sussex Sonics (1-4) and Kennebecasis Valley Crusaders (0-5).
"I talked to some people who have been around football for a long time and I respect their opinions," Mosher said.
"They all agreed that it was better for our program to go into the 10-man league," said Mosher, who has also coached with the Moncton Marshals senior team and Mount Allison Mounties of the Atlantic University Sport football conference.
"They know what we have for returning players and the players coming up and they believe we have a good chance to compete. I like the looks of our team. We have at least 15 players coming back and there are some good looking players ready to make the jump from bantam."
Meanwhile, the 12-man league will feature 11 teams -- five in the east and five in the west.
Three-time defending champion Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders will join the Harrison Trimble Trojans, Moncton High Purple Knights, Tantramar Titans and Riverview High Royals in the east.
Provincial finalist Saint John High Greyhounds, St. Malachy's Saints, Hampton Huskies, Fredericton High Black Kats, Leo Hayes Lions and Oromocto High Blues will play in the west.
New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association executive-director Peter Corby said schedules and playoff formats will be drawn up in the next couple of weeks.
"We expect the 10-man and the 12-man leagues to feature some balanced competition," Corby said. "I've heard that the coaches and players are looking forward to it."
The regular season begins in early September and the championship games in both leagues will be played Nov. 14 at Rocky Stone Memorial Field in Moncton.
|Simonds Seabees defender Mitchell Moore, left, chases down Harbour View's Brett Saunders during New Brunswick High School football League AAA action in 2008. If a proposal is adopted to resurrect the 10-man football league, then Simonds and Harbour View could meet in that division this fall.|
|10 man game could make a return this season
Football: Eight teams express interest in reviving gridiron division
By Kevin Barrett
Published In the Telegraph-Journal on April 30, 2009
Appeared on page B12
Score a major for high school football organizers keen on doing something about competitive imbalance in the New Brunswick High School Football League.
While nothing is official yet, it looks promising to see a return of the 10-man brand of football for next season, after a one-year absence from the high school scene.
Perry Kukkonen, the president of the provincial gridiron group, said eight teams expressed interest in forming the 10-man loop during a recent league meeting.
The number of teams is significant because eight is the minimum number of teams required by the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association to hold a provincial championship in any sport.
"It looks very good right now," Kukkonen said. "I am 98 per cent sure that everything is a go. Once we get the final confirmation, we will start to put schedules together."
Prior to the start of last season, the league could not meet the requirement to house a 10-man division, so all 19 teams were in the 12-man conference.
But if all goes to plan this season, St. Stephen, Sussex, Kennebecasis Valley, Rothesay, Simonds, Harbour View, L'Odyssee and Mathieu Martin of Moncton will register in the 10-man league.
That leaves Saint John, St. Malachy's, Hampton, Fredericton, Leo Hayes, Oromocto, Bernice MacNaughton, Harrison Trimble, Riverview, Moncton and Tantramar to compete for the provincial AAA title. They will likely playing in two divisions but those details have yet to be worked out.
"It is going to be a very positive move for our league as far as helping programs develop, creating interest with the athletes and it will give some more parity to the league and level out the competition a bit," Kukkonen said.
"In the long run, it is going to serve football in New Brunswick pretty well."
Blowout scores can happen in any league, especially in high school, where differences in programs, school size, athlete skill and others can swing the final result dramatically.
But the premise of the renewed league will actually help as, in theory, there will be more competitive contests more often in both leagues.
The 10-man division first started in 2001 with a mandate of providing a format for programs to develop. Hampton, Saint John and St Malachy's are examples of teams that got their feet under them in the 10-man program and then successfully made the jump to the 12-man game.
Of the eight teams tentative slated to play 10-man in 2009, only St. Stephen had a winning record at 3-2 in 2008.
Combined they went 8-34 overall and were outscored 1,634 to 417 - or a 39-10 average each game.
While the coaches endorses the concept, there are still a few hurdles to climb before the 10-man league is back for good.
First, the deadline to register for Fall Sports is June 1, so teams and officials from the various schools could change their minds in the next few weeks without any penalty.
Second, NBIAA executive director Peter Corby is making contact with the school principals involved to confirm the football team's intentions.
Without principal's endorsements, a team cannot make the commitment.
Regardless, though, the movement appears encouraging.
Dave Grandy, head coach of the Saint John Greyhounds, was on the winning side of four games that were decided by 40 points or more last year.
"I am not a necessarily a fan of the 10-man game but the only way they could structure it for parity was to go with the 10-man and the 12-man divisions," Grandy said.
'When it comes to 10 versus 12, I don't think the number is the issue. What it does, it creates some parity and it will allow you to build and develop your program to where it needs to be."
Harbour View will have a new coaching staff 2009 but outgoing coach Mike Murphy also said the moves are positive.
"Going from 12 to 10 man will result in more kids playing football at a more competitive level," Murphy said. "It doesn't do anyone any good when it is not competitive."
Harbour View was 0-5 last year and scored just nine points and Murphy admitted some big losses can take its toll.
"The interest wanes and the kids who are not committed fade away," Murphy said.