SACKVILLE, N.B. – At least the Titan coaches and fans got a preview of what the team might look like next season on Saturday, as the Tantramar bench was emptied throughout the second half to gain some experience under competitive conditions.
After galloping to a 52-0 lead over the Fredericton Black Kats by half time, officials ruled that the second half was to run straight time, allowing coach Scott O’Neal to substitute liberally, often having an almost full lineup on the field of non-starters.
And with as many as 10 of this year’s team due to graduate next June, it will be expected that some of these athletes – like Jesse Estabrooks, Elliot Hicks, Ethan Cormier, Ben Weir, Jacob Johanneson, Evan Phinney and Jake Purdy – will be required to take their place in the trenches.
While they failed to score a point, they more than held their own, especially on defense, and the experience should prove beneficial when the call comes to carry the school colours into battle.
For the fourth consecutive time, the Titans totally demolished their opponents, and many fans are wondering, how this could be? There is an old saying: ‘what goes around comes around,’ and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to the Titans and Black Kats.
For years, no team wanted to tangle with the dynamo from the largest school in the province as they marched to six provincial championships during the 1980s and left a trail of destruction along the way.
Now it would seem the Titans have picked up on that and are creating a dynasty of their own.
Over the last four games the local school has racked up 188 points, while allowing the opposition a total of just eight. This four-game winning streak, combined with six at the end of last year gives them 10 in total, and overall, 32 victories in their last 33 games dating back to 2015.
Obviously, there are a number of factors playing into this good-news story, but it seems as though the outstanding coaching staff has found a way of taking raw material and turning it into polished products. Each season about a dozen star players bid adieu to the program and fans fear of what will happen, only to see victories pile up, often by ridiculous scores.
There is now little doubt the Sackville school should march to its fourth straight provincial high school championship, especially after laying whippings on Riverview, Saint John and Moncton, followed by the latest.
Saturday’s match started out much like the previous three with the opponents showing some ability to put up a serious fight. But the threat quickly dissipated as the winners ran out front by 21 points in the first quarter and added another 32 in the second 12-minute session. The touchdowns came in various forms but several came as the result of takeaways by fumble recoveries, blocked punts and any other form caused by superior play.
After Fredericton threatened on their first possession, the Titans took the ball from their own 43 to touchdown territory with a Lucas Cormier finish by first catching a 30-yarder from Justin Vogels and then waltzing home from the seven. Less than two minutes later it was Oliver Longpre dashing in from the nine.
The barrage continued in the second session with Longpre returning a kick for 73 yards and then Jacob Estabrooks also found the end zone on a beautiful play.
During the first half, the visitors were held to three first downs to nine for the winners, while Vogels threw for 133 yards and a pair of majors.
The Black Kats fielded a big team that included several members of U18 Team New Brunswick, with Ethan Stairs being their standout.
The Titans will have little time to rest as they are billed to travel to Rocky Stone Field for a matchup with l’Odyssey Olympiens on Thursday at 7 p.m.
And their regular season concludes on Oct. 19 when they travel to Fredericton to take on Leo Hays Lions in a 7 p.m. match.