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Football Titans roll over Trojans 49-0

The Titans' Aidan O'Neal (#3) heads for a seam opened up by some excellent blocking in Saturday's game against the Harrison Trimble Trojans. PAMELA SCHNEIDER PHOTO
The Titans' Aidan O'Neal (#3) heads for a seam opened up by some excellent blocking in Saturday's game against the Harrison Trimble Trojans. PAMELA SCHNEIDER PHOTO

SACKVILLE, N.B. – The score was 28-0 by the end of the first quarter and there was never any doubt as to who had the better team as the Titans “toyed” with the Harrison Trimble Trojans here Saturday afternoon in running up a lopsided 49-0 decision in the opening round of the New Brunswick High School Football League playoffs.

As a matter of fact, the Titans so dominated their opposition they permitted them just two first downs in the entire game with one of them coming via the penalty route. And they allowed a mere 22 yards in net offense. 

It couldn’t have been a more dominating performance. But yes, it could have if coach O’Neal had decided to show no mercy and left his front line in for the entire afternoon. Actually, U18 all-Canadian Aidan O’Neal spent most of the game in the secondary, turning over the ground-gaining duties to younger performers like Jack Estabrooks and Lucas Cormier.

The game was literally over after just three minutes. O’Neal took the first Trojan punt 55 yards for a touchdown at the 1:30 mark and added the exclamation mark with his second on an eight-yard scamper just two minutes later. He ended with his average of three majors.

Meanwhile, l’Odyssee upset Riverview Royals on Friday night to gain the second playoff spot in the Eastern division. They will travel to Fredericton to take on the West-winning Leo Hayes team in the crossover semi-final while Tantramar will host Saint John in the other semi.

As a matter of fact, the Titans so dominated their opposition they permitted them just two first downs in the entire game with one of them coming via the penalty route. And they allowed a mere 22 yards in net offense. 

It couldn’t have been a more dominating performance. But yes, it could have if coach O’Neal had decided to show no mercy and left his front line in for the entire afternoon. Actually, U18 all-Canadian Aidan O’Neal spent most of the game in the secondary, turning over the ground-gaining duties to younger performers like Jack Estabrooks and Lucas Cormier.

The game was literally over after just three minutes. O’Neal took the first Trojan punt 55 yards for a touchdown at the 1:30 mark and added the exclamation mark with his second on an eight-yard scamper just two minutes later. He ended with his average of three majors.

Meanwhile, l’Odyssee upset Riverview Royals on Friday night to gain the second playoff spot in the Eastern division. They will travel to Fredericton to take on the West-winning Leo Hayes team in the crossover semi-final while Tantramar will host Saint John in the other semi.

A Harrison Trimble Trojan is chased down by a pair of Titans defenders PAMELA SCHNEIDER PHOTO.

While Saint John will travel here for the second time this season – they lost 47-6 here in regular interlock action on October 1, the time of this weekend’s match had not been established at the time of writing. However since the Mounties will be at home on Saturday, there could be a conflict in times.

Saturday’s victory marked the eighth of the season for the local school and their l7th consecutive win over a two-year period. Last season the played a six-game regular schedule and then added three more wins during the playoffs to capture their first provincial crown since 1997.

Some fans have been comparing this squad with the one representing Tantramar that captured three consecutive titles at the beginning of the 1990s.

A highlight announcement on Saturday featured veteran coach David Burns. He began his career 25 years ago with the Titans and Saturday’s game marked his 200th, including more than a dozen as head coach. During that entire period he has never missed a practice or a game – a feat few coaches anywhere could match.

Aidan O’Neal, who averaged three touchdowns and more than 250 yards rushing a game during the season, was content with a pair of majors and just 80 yards of rushing although adding nearly 100 more on punt returns.

While the offense demonstrated a good deal of diversity, using a variety of young men in various positions, it was the defense that once again proved to be one of the best ever to take to the David Jardine Field. In allowing a mere 36 points in seven league games, they have placed themselves in an enviable position and on Saturday literally shut the door on Harrison Trimble, allowing just one passing first down and kept the ball in their opponents’ zone for 48 minutes.

As a result of such outstanding efforts, the Tantramar Titans have become the only high school football team in the Maritimes to be ranked in the top 100 by those in the know. Last year they came in at number 35 and the most recent release shows them sitting at number 33. Usually there is one or two schools from Nova Scotia but not this time with the Titans having the honours all to themselves.

While O’Neal had his trio of paydirt visits, fine receiver Lucas Cormier caught a pair of Jeff Lafford passes for big scores while Jack Estabrooks and Lafford each crossed the line once and Aaron Rose split the uprights on all seven occasions to round out the total.

On the other side of the ball, the defensive players swarmed opposing ball carriers, throwing them for big losses while forcing quarterback Dylan Tabone to throw or be hammered. However, they did put up resistance along their big line but lacked any serious offensive weapons.

The Titans had topped the Trojans 40-14 in the season opener but have been steadily improving and now appear to be peaking at just the right moment. If they can string two more wins together, it will result in their second consecutive provincial crown, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1981-83

To date a decision taken five years ago to eliminate the Bantam program and have Peewee graduates immediately join the Titans seems to have been a blessing as athletes now entering Grade 10 or 11 have had on-field experience and are prepared to contribute.

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