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Sackville's football Titans head into semifinal with unbeaten record intact

These Titans fans didn’t let the cold dampen their spirits as they travelled to Fredericton Friday evening to cheer on their home-town team.
These Titans fans didn’t let the cold dampen their spirits as they travelled to Fredericton Friday evening to cheer on their home-town team. - PAMELA SCHNEIDER PHOTO

Local squad set to welcome Fredericton Black Kats Saturday with berth in provincial final on the line

SACKVILLE, N.B. – It’s Titan playoff time and coach Scott O’Neal says that in spite of what his team has accomplished over the past seven weeks the boys will simply have to keep their heads in the game if they are to complete a perfect unbeaten run to their fourth provincial high school football championship.

Yes, kickoff time will be 1 p.m. this Saturday and the opposition will be provided by the Fredericton Black Kats, a franchise once feared and one that is on a current three-game winning streak. They have knocked off Moncton, l’Odyssee and Leo Hayes along the way and O’Neal says it will be far from the team his Titans whipped 52-0 here on Sept. 29.

This Leo Hayes player doesn’t stand a chance as he’s buried under a pile of Titans players in Friday night’s game in Fredericton.
This Leo Hayes player doesn’t stand a chance as he’s buried under a pile of Titans players in Friday night’s game in Fredericton.

“They have come a long way and would love nothing more than to come in here and pull off an upset,” says O’Neal. “You can be sure they will be ready to give us a run for our lives.”

Also, this weekend will see the Riverview Royals host the Saint John Greyhounds in the other semi-final matchup, with the two winners hooking up one week later.

Getting back to the unbelievable season the Titans have enjoyed: they have scored 275 points while allowing just eight in their six consecutive victories. They have gone 19 quarters without having allowed a point scored against and, in most cases, the outcome has been decided by half time. This has permitted O’Neal to experiment with younger players, those in Grades 9 and 10, during the second half, allowing them to gain necessary experience in competition they will need next season after many of the current stars leave via graduation.

“We got a lot of the kids in on Friday night in Fredericton and they performed very well,” said the coach, who has built an enviable record over the past four years. During that time, he and an outstanding group of assistants have put 34 victories on the board with their one loss being by a single point after having racked up 22 straight wins.

Currently, the Titans are on a 12-game winning streak and, overall, are 34-1 during the championship runs.

But many fans did not expect such relatively easy victories this year following the graduation of a dozen top players, including linemen, backers and backs. But O’Neal and company, fed by an outstanding minor system, just simply worked a little harder and have been even more impressive than before. Pre-season projections ranged for a 4-2 to 5-1 run by those who have long followed the team.

On Friday night, the same names continued to pop up in the scoring list. Lucas Cormier, an outstanding DB, shifted occasionally to offense and notched a trio of touchdowns. Oliver Longpre continued his assault on the opposition with a pair, while Owen O’Neal and Colby Tower had one major each.

Titan Tom Lafford cheers on his team from the sidelines during Friday night’s game in Fredericton against Leo Hayes.
Titan Tom Lafford cheers on his team from the sidelines during Friday night’s game in Fredericton against Leo Hayes.

Joe Carpenter remained near perfect on the season by booting all seven conversion attempts while adding a 27-yard field goal.

Quarterback Justin Vogels was the on-field architect of this onslaught. He connected with Cormier on 42- and 23-yard TD completions and hooked up with O’Neal and Tower on almost identical 23-yard strikes.

While football aficionados from across the country continue to search for answers to the Titans secret, coach O’Neal is taking a more cautious approach as the playoffs get underway. He realizes all good things have a way of ending at some point and that is why he continues to caution the young men under his command to continue to play their usual “smash mouth” style of taking no prisoners while playing every rep as though it is their last.

While the Titans must obviously be considered heavy favourites entering post-season play, O’Neal says it will be important for a strong fan showing, which provides additional encouragement for the team.

Remember – kickoff time 1 p.m. on Saturday at David Jardine Field.

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