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Titans battle to provincial title


SACKVILLE, N.B. – They may have trailed late into the game but there was never a doubt in the minds of the coaches and players as to the final outcome.

And, as usual, the Titans found a way to bring home another New Brunswick High School football championship – this time with a come-from-behind 30-20 decision over Leo Hayes Lions.

And, as usual, the Titans found a way to bring home another New Brunswick High School football championship – this time with a come-from-behind 30-20 decision over Leo Hayes Lions.

The matchup of undefeated teams took place in Fredericton on Saturday afternoon with a huge support group from the Tantramar region on hand to provide all the vocal support they would require.

For the Titans, the victory wrapped up a fantastic two-year run that has seen them bring to Sackville back-to-back championships while putting together a 19-game winning streak. They went 9-0 in 2015 and this season upped up it to 10-0 to match the best record ever posted by a Titan team.

And not only have they gone undefeated over that two-year span, they have totally demolished the opposition. During the current season they have outscored the opposition by a total of 404 points to just 46. This has included five shutouts including two in the playoffs. Last season, they outscored opponents 84 to 34 in the playoffs and, overall, 349-77. Thus over the 19 victories they have produced 753 points while allowing 123.

As a result, the Titans are putting in a strong bid to be elevated from their current ranking of 33rd best high school football team in the nation. The 20 points scored by Leo Hayes on Saturday was the second most managed since Moncton notched 21 in a playoff loss last year.

On Saturday, it was again a combination of an outstanding defensive display, strong line play and the constant battering by the best player in high school football in the province. 

Members of the Tantramar Titans celebrate their second consecutive provincial title on Saturday in Fredericton.

Aidan O’Neal did his normal, take the ball on most snaps, score a pair of touchdowns and rack up his normal 250 yards along the ground. But none of it came easy as the Lions designed their game plan to take him out of the game and gut the Titan attack. 

Obviously their plan failed but they did key in on him and often his progress was limited but there was just no stopping him – contain, at times, but eventually he will make you pay.

For the first time this season, the Titans were forced to play from behind. They fell back by a 10-3 score early and were down 13-6 and 20-13 before launching a final quarter drive. A short drive by O’Neal evened the count at 20 and then Sam Alward got his mitts on a neat toss for another major and Aaron Rose completed perhaps his best game of his career by connecting on his third field goal of the day to add to his trio of conversions.

After the game, coach Scott O’Neal said he knew his team would be in a battle after reviewing films of the Lions and hearing reports from colleagues. But he noted it is only after facing them that you realize just how good they really are – explosive offensively and tough defensively.

In many instances, it was the veteran line of the Titans that again made it happen.  The Lions also presented a huge line but lacked the experience and overall skill of the Titan “hogs.” O’Neal said one of his offensive linemen came off the field and assured him they were on the right track  – “he told me we were wearing them down and that we were going to win the game.”

The winners stuck to their game plan – a punishing ground attack – wile the Lions’ greatest threat was through the air. 

However, as they attempted to launch a late comeback, the Titan defenders shut down the air lanes and sealed the win.

While the school has been blessed with a nice cycle of committed athletes, it all couldn’t have happened without such an astute coaching staff led by veterans like O’Neal, Peter Estabrooks, David Burns, Ben Brown and several other major contributors.

But it is not easy to envisage a school with roughly 220 young men enrolled being able to not only compete with but control those with three and four times as many potential athletes. 

Back-to-back championships goes well beyond mere athleticism and mentoring – it must include many intangibles like total commitment, character, school spirit and unwavering belief in themselves and their coaches.  

It’s possible nothing so totally dominating will ever happen again – so enjoy every moment and never forget.

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