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Titans dominate Greyhounds in semi-final

Titan Lucas Cormier takes down a Saint John opponent during his team’s 41-0 provincial semi-final win on Saturday.
Titan Lucas Cormier takes down a Saint John opponent during his team’s 41-0 provincial semi-final win on Saturday.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – It might be called “just another day at the office” as the rampaging Tantramar Titans cruised into the New Brunswick High School Football League finals here on Saturday afternoon with a 41-0 whitewashing of the Saint John High Greyhounds in the semi-final battle.

Expectations are that the Scott O’Neal-coached Sackville school will face its first real challenge this week as they must travel to Fredericton to meet the Western division champion Leo Hayes squad. Like the Titans, the Hayes squad is undefeated and seeking its initial title so look for some fireworks as the local team places its near perfect defensive and offensive records on the line, defying to “turn the other cheek.” 

Last season the Titans waltzed to the championship with an untainted 9-0 record. To date they have an identical mark of seven league wins and two more in the playoffs. Another on Saturdays would match the 1981 mark of 10-0.

Expectations are that the Scott O’Neal-coached Sackville school will face its first real challenge this week as they must travel to Fredericton to meet the Western division champion Leo Hayes squad. Like the Titans, the Hayes squad is undefeated and seeking its initial title so look for some fireworks as the local team places its near perfect defensive and offensive records on the line, defying to “turn the other cheek.” 

Last season the Titans waltzed to the championship with an untainted 9-0 record. To date they have an identical mark of seven league wins and two more in the playoffs. Another on Saturdays would match the 1981 mark of 10-0.

Members of Sackville’s Tantramar Titans celebrate following Saturday’s win.

Some fans have already tried to make comparisons between the teams of different eras. This is not possible – the team led by Bruce McMillan was tremendous with such performers as Peter Hess, Ian MacDonald, Peter Ayer and Tim Phinney and was by far the best team of its era. The current edition of the Titans will go down in the annals as by far the best of its era – it is just not possible to even consider which was better.

Both squads boasted strong offensives, tough defenses and strong special teams. And both seemed invincible with big strong linemen. The team of the 80’s could run but was stronger in the air. This time the Titans utilize an overwhelming ground attack with enough pin-point passing to keep the opposition honest.

To term last Saturday’s contest as ‘one-sided’ would be a slight understatement. Saint John showed some fight on defense, coming up with some big stops, but lacked anything to worry the Titans. Throughout the game, they were held to just 85 yards of offense and three first downs and at no time posed a threat to move into the Titan end zone. 

Perhaps the only negative for the local team was the constant call of penalties. Jack Estabrooks, who came on to fill in for Aidan O’Neal, ran wild but had two long touchdown runs nullified due to some holding by his teammates. This has been a season-long achilles heel but they are anticipated when playing “smash mouth” football – that is playing from whistle to whistle and never letting up.

Looking back over the season, the outcome of Saturday’s match should not have been surprising. Earlier in the year, the Titans had crushed Saint John 47-6 and in the nine victories to date the Titans have held the opposition to a grand total of 36 points or four a game while striking for 309. 

Aidan O’Neal, as usual, set the tone by notching five touchdowns but shared the runningback position with Estabrooks. Sure-handed athletic Lucas Cormier had the other as he snared a neat toss from Jeff Lafford to account for the scoring, along with kicker Aaron Rose who connected on five of six attempts.

Fans were barely in their seats when O’Neal went over from the five to complete a four-play, 50-yard drive and he repeated with another five yarder to put the home team up by 14 after 12 minutes of play.

The Greyhounds stiffened in the second quarter and it took nearly the entire 12 minutes before O’Neal ended a 48-yard drive by heading into familiar territory to send the team into the break with 20 points separating them.

O’Neal notched his fourth major on a 13-yard scamper in the third quarter and made it five in a row with a 19 yarder in the final session. Then it was left to Cormier to taste

glory as he reeled in a 20 yarder from Lafford.

Defensively several Titans were outstanding – Zach Cormier, Zack Boudreau and the entire line, Zach Lloyd, Aaron Rose, Alex Robertson and, of course, Aidan O’Neal who moved into the defensive backfield to snare an interception and break up several passing attempts.

 

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