SACKVILLE, N.B. – The weekend of May 5-6 was a tremendously successful one for this community as 160 young football players, along with a large number of parents, congregated here to determine the final line-ups for the provincial teams that will be moving ahead with a series of exhibition games with their counterparts from Nova Scotia and, ultimately, to the Canadian championships.
It surely proved to be a boon for local businesses, especially restaurants and hotels, as there were hundreds of hungry folks looking for a meal.
And on the gridiron, it was a successful outing in what was entitled the Showcase Weekend.
Seven members of the vaunted Titan nation were named to the U18 team and will lead the 55-member aggregation as they attempt to carry the province to even better performances than in the past.
Titan mastermind Scott O’Neal is a coach of the U18 group and he said this year’s team seems to be somewhat improved over previous seasons. However, this might be expected as the provincial program hasn’t been active for all that many years.
He noted that the absence of U18 head coach Chris Hopkins will be severely felt, even more than by the Mounties with whom he was also involved. Hopkins has accepted a full-time position as special teams coordinator and recruitment coordinator with the Carleton Ravens of Ottawa.
Last year the Titans had a low number of four on the provincial U18 team but this time will dot the lineup from top to bottom.
Calling the shots from the key quarterback position will be none other than Justin Vogels, the young man who has keyed the offense for the championship Titans for the past two seasons. This marks his first time with Team New Brunswick.
Oliver Longpre, Lucas Cormier, Owen O’Neal, Riley Estabrooks, Simon Dean and Tristan McCluskey are the other Titans selected to the squad.
Longpre, who has been in the provincial program for a couple of years, will be one of the receivers while Dean and McCluskey will bring big bodies to the offensive line. Cormier and O’Neal along with Estabrooks will patrol the secondary.
Coach O’Neal said he was proud of his “boys” as all seven stood out among the 80 hopefuls from across the entire province.
And this should come as no surprise as performers with the local program work and train hard all year long and this is one of the key reasons they have been so successful in bringing home back-to-back, back-to-back championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Many graduates have gone on to perform well at the university level and coaches across the country have come to recognize the talent coming out of the tiny centre of education on the edge of the Tantramar marshes.
Meanwhile, the final cuts for the U16 team were also announced and four Titans were selected for the summer squad. Terence Carter, Ethan Cormier, Evan Phinney and Justin Smith have all been chosen to represent New Brunswick on the provincial team.