Tantramar Titans’ Lucas Walton (22), Logan Bunn (52) and Tyler Bowles (54) scramble for the ball against a couple of Harrison Trimble players while Jo Monteith (80) and Zack Haley (57) rush to help with the play during Saturday afternoon’s game at the TRHS field. The game ended in a 15-15 tie. Visit www.sackvilletribunepost.com for more photos. EMILY TOWER PHOTO
It has often been said that playing a tie game is much like kissing your sister - there really is no winner. But regardless of that, Tantramar Titan coach Scott O'Neal will take the points any way he can get them and the 15-15 sawoff with the Harrison Trimble Trojans may be just what his youthful squad will need to make the post-season games.
But this was a lot more than just a football game - it was the first in a season that was dedicated to the memory of former Titan defensive lineman Michael Harborne, who perished in a house fire in Dieppe on March 27 of this year.
"We are very, very proud of that wonderful tribute to our son," said Karen Harborne who attended the opening ceremonies along with her husband and family members. These included father Ian, Michael's two sons - Aedan and Derrick and partner Lynnsy, as well as extended family members, including an aunt, Darlene, who flew in from Toronto for the occasion.
Michael played football with the Titans for four seasons – 2001 to 2004 – under the leadership of David Burns. He was a typical lineman, big, strong and fearless, with confidence and pride in his school.
He would have been especially proud of the manner in which the Titans launched the 2013 season with a late comeback to earn the single point, and he would have been proud of his three-year-old son, Aedan, who when asked what he liked about football said, "I like it when they jump on each other."
The Titans were heavily out-manned and out-sized by the visiting Trojans, who were able to send fresh players on defense and offense, while the home team was forced to have several players go both ways. This is not an unusual occurrence as the school is the smallest in the conference with fewer than 250 young men from which to choose, while the Moncton school has three times that number.
But as O'Neal said earlier "we will be competitive in every game", pointing to pride and toughness as two of the main ingredients in a successful program.
He unleashed some surprises in the early going, with Nevin Becker carving out huge gains along the ground as the high gales kept an aerial attack at bay. But when Logan Bunn was called to punt from centre field early in the opening quarter, he simply let fly and the ball got caught up in the draft and came to land 75 yards away in the weeds at the end of the Trojan end zone for a single. And they continued to match their bigger foes kick for kick and hit for hit with Becker showing fleetness as he, on third down, went outside, cut down the sidelines and ended in the end zone to up the count to 8-0.
But the talented Trojans were far from done and before the intermission Matt Brine caught a 23-yard pass for paydirt, and the teams went to the dressing room with the Titans up by a narrow 8-7 margin.
Brandon Devito put the visitors up as the game wore down and things looked bleak until speedy veteran Dylan Banks got behind the secondary and took the ball to the house on a 50-yard pass-and-run play. Bunn connected with the tying point after and also had another as well as the long single to account for the total.
"Our defense played tough and kept us in the game until our offense could get it going," said O'Neal in summing up the contest. "It was a good physical game to start the season and we are confident we can improve all aspects of our game."
The Titans will receive their second test this week as they visit Rocky Stone Field in Moncton to take on the Mathieu Martin Matadors on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Saturday's opener was played before an excellent turnout and it's expected, as usual, a strong contingent will be in Moncton on Thursday to cheer on their heroes.