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Three football Titans earn MVP honours, several named to all-star team

Tantramar Titans Aidan O'Neal, right, and Dylan Estabrooks, centre, have been selected for Canada’s Under 18 national team which will challenge their United States equivalent early next year in Orlando, Florida. PHOTO SUBMITTED
Tantramar Titans Aidan O'Neal, right, and Dylan Estabrooks, centre, have been selected for Canada’s Under 18 national team which will challenge their United States equivalent early next year in Orlando, Florida. PHOTO SUBMITTED

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Some football fans may not have realized they had the privilege of following some of the top high school players in the nation during the past couple of campaigns.

But opposing coaches knew outstanding talent when they saw it and, as a result, our hometown Titans have scooped up MVP awards in three team categories –offense, defense and lineman of the year.

In addition, seven Titans have been named to the all-star team. This may leave some wondering why more were not chosen since the Titans totally dominated the six-team conference on all sides of the ball. Over the 10 games they played, they outscored the opposition by a score of 431-56.

However, all teams usually place at least one player on the “dream team” with far better talent being left on the sidelines. Coach Scott O’Neal would have a legitimate bid to have more names on the list, especially across the offensive line and on both the defense and special teams. 

Early on, the word was out that the Titans had a one-dimensional attack with the coach’s son Aidan providing all the offense. This was quickly stymied, however, as they developed a more diverse attack, the defense refused to allow opposing attackers any room to move and the specialty teams shone – scoring a number of touchdowns while landing crunching tackles on returners. The punting was above average, the kicking adequate and each return having the potential to go the distance.

And during the process, it was learned that two-way lineman Dylan Estabrooks will join Aidan O’Neal on Canada’s Under 18 national team which will challenge their United States equivalent early next year in Orlando, Florida.

But opposing coaches knew outstanding talent when they saw it and, as a result, our hometown Titans have scooped up MVP awards in three team categories –offense, defense and lineman of the year.

In addition, seven Titans have been named to the all-star team. This may leave some wondering why more were not chosen since the Titans totally dominated the six-team conference on all sides of the ball. Over the 10 games they played, they outscored the opposition by a score of 431-56.

However, all teams usually place at least one player on the “dream team” with far better talent being left on the sidelines. Coach Scott O’Neal would have a legitimate bid to have more names on the list, especially across the offensive line and on both the defense and special teams. 

Early on, the word was out that the Titans had a one-dimensional attack with the coach’s son Aidan providing all the offense. This was quickly stymied, however, as they developed a more diverse attack, the defense refused to allow opposing attackers any room to move and the specialty teams shone – scoring a number of touchdowns while landing crunching tackles on returners. The punting was above average, the kicking adequate and each return having the potential to go the distance.

And during the process, it was learned that two-way lineman Dylan Estabrooks will join Aidan O’Neal on Canada’s Under 18 national team which will challenge their United States equivalent early next year in Orlando, Florida.

Much of the credit for the fact that TRHS, a school with fewer than 450 students, has had two of its football players named among the top 50 in the country goes to the team's coaching staff, led by Scott O'Neal, pictured above on the right.

Meanwhile it was no surprise – actually it would have been a miscarriage of justice if Aiden O’Neal had not been a unanimous choice as offensive player of the year. And it also came as expected when Zach Cormier – number 50 – was declared defensive lineman of the year.

Aaron Rose was tossed a challenge of stepping into the middle linebacking spot after Dylan Cormier had set the benchmark for that position the year before. But the kicker notched 10 solo tackles and a sack over the year to earn defensive player of the year honours.

There is no doubt these players will be sought out by a number of universities as they continue their careers. Cormier has the size, quickness and skill to move to the next level while O’Neal should quickly step into a defensive role after demonstrating his talent to shut down opposing pass receivers.

These three stars were naturally chosen to head up the conference all-star team. Joining them are all-purpose lineman Isaac Humber and linebacker Jack Estabrooks and receiver Sam Alward.

Each of these players easily qualified and again, it is unfortunate a number of other key contributors like Jared Prescott, Lucas Cormier, Zach Lloyd, Dylan Estabrooks and Zach Boudreau were omitted, perhaps to allow other teams to have players chosen.

A quick look at season statistics are dramatic, especially in the case of O’Neal. In 10 games, he had 227 carries for 2,399 yards and 29 touchdowns. This averaged out to an average of more than 10 yards every time he got his hands on the ball and nearly three touchdowns a game.

Lucas Cormier came into his own as a receiver with a dozen receptions for 238 yards and four touchdowns to lead in this category. Actually the stats show the Titans had 43 rushing majors and 13 through the air, again proving that they concentrate on a bruising ground attack but with the ability to hit the airwaves.

When Dylan Estabrooks was chosen recently to be art of the Canadian U-18 team, it was learned that he will be uniting with his cousin Aidan O’Neal.  It appears that Aidan’s grandfather and Dylan’s grandmother were brother and sister – so obviously strong genes are featured in that family.

Thus, while local Titan supporters will continue to enjoy the just-completed successful season, they will also be biding their time when it’s hoped two local boys will play key roles in a Canadian victory over the US. It should prove interesting and intriguing that a school with fewer than 450 students is capable of providing two players among the top 50 in the country – definitely a testament to commitment, hard work, natural talent and some fine coaching.

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