SACKVILLE, N.B. – It will be Sackville football fiesta here Saturday when diehard fans will have the opportunity to view five hours of top notch action on the gridiron.
One may travel to David Jardine Field for a noon kickoff as the provincial champion Tantramar Titans launch the 2018 season against the Saint John Greyhounds. Then, at 2 p.m., the Mounties will attempt to make it two wins in a row when they face the Saint Mary’s Huskies at Alumni Field.
It’s expected both games will be hard-fought affairs. The Titans have won 28 of 29 games over the past three seasons and are currently on a six-game run following a squeaky loss Riverview midway through last season. They went 9-0 in 2015 and 10-0 in 2016 before posting a 9-1 mark last year. Thus, they have earned three consecutive New Brunswick high school titles and enter this campaign with opposing teams having one goal – knock head coach Scott O’Neal’s squad off their high perch.
Due to the graduation of more than the usual key number of players, fans will see some new faces and a revamped playbook as the coaching staff hopes to chalk up number four. But even O’Neal admits it won’t be easy in the revamped league with no longer any “pushovers” competing. Every game will prove to be a challenge with the league comprised of the Riverview Royals, Moncton Purple Knights, l’Odyssey Olympiens, Saint John , Leo Hays Lions and Fredericton Black Kats.
It will be the Greyhounds here Saturday to test the young Titan lineup. The local squad will count heavily on the seven players who played for Team N.B.’s U-18 squad this year along with some second- and third-year players coming off the bench, to take their place in starting roles.
The Titans may have even greater incentive this season after having been provided with a clean bill by a commission consisting of representatives of Team Canada and Team N.B. among others. A complaint had been filed by Moncton coach John Allanach with the support of some others claiming the Titans are intentionally violating the rules. These included the head rule, the fair play rule and intent to injure.
The findings were that football games played by the Titans are consistent with football that is played at that level across the country.
“The Tantramar team plays aggressively and showed some strength in skills outside the other teams,” noted the findings.
It went on to say, “after a conference call with the investigators it was conclusive that we could not find evidence that would support the fact the Titans or coaching staff are intentionally violating the rules.”
Complete vindication – and for the third time – as game officials had stated the exact thing following an unfortunate incident and later by the NBIAA when they could find no reason to criticize a team for winning consistently and sometimes humiliating the opposition.
Thus, perhaps greater interest than usual will be observed during the campaign as the champs go up against those teams who failed to accept reality and instead ended with egg on their faces.