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Former Sackville mayor, long-time football fan Bob Berry wades in on recent high school debate

Former Sackville Mayor Bob Berry says schools that are not prepared to play in the current high school league should look at other options.
Former Sackville Mayor Bob Berry says schools that are not prepared to play in the current high school league should look at other options.

Pair of teams have forfeit to Titans in recent weeks

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Former Sackville mayor Bob Berry isn’t very impressed with the actions of some high school football coaches, especially those who “throw in the towel” after half a game when there are obviously a sufficient number of players to complete the game.

“Any team that is not capable of playing at this level should definitely look at doing something else – like dropping down to 10-man football or creating a league consisting of teams that aren’t prepared to play at this level,” he said in a rather disgusted mood after seeing two of the last three games he has attended being forfeited at half time.

Three weeks ago, L'Odyssée’s coach called off the second half when he told officials he had nine players displaying symptoms of concussion and would be unable to justify sending his remaining boys out to finish the game.

Fortunately, most of the boys recovered quickly and were able to compete the following week.

School officials lauded the coach for taking such precautions to protect his players and, on that basis, they were correct. However, it was noted that the Titans had run up an easy 35 points during the first 24 minutes. This is not to indicate the coach withdrew for any reason other than injuries but it causes some wonder as to why what appears to be a poorly prepared team continues to try to compete at this level.

Berry made the comments after the Mathieu Martin Matadors’ coach forfeited the game on Saturday after falling behind by 41 points.

Meanwhile, Titan coach Scott O’Neal says such actions are not beneficial to either team.

“Our players work hard every day all week to prepare for the next game and we are on the field for only half a game – that definitely doesn’t help us.”

ONeal stressed that his players will have to move on from such events and really work hard all week if they are to be ready to meet a serious challenge from Riverview this Saturday.

While he didn’t say as much, the indication was there that being hammered this way definitely doesn’t do much for the losing team.

Peter Hess, a man who has been involved as player, coach and mentor for decades says it isn’t fair to anybody – the players, the school or the fans – when teams are unprepared for competition are sent out on the field.

He agrees that the Titans play a solid game – defensively, offensively and on special teams – and it just isn’t right to have to go against teams that are obviously unprepared to play at that level.

Perhaps the ruling body should consider creating leagues where teams will be competitive – for instance placing Moncton, Riverview, Fredericton and Sackville in one loop, with the weaker squads that get beaten badly on a regular basis placed in a lower division. Then, there could be a system where a team in the lower level showing great improvement could move up. This would guarantee that fans would “get their money’s worth”, while the athletes on any team would have a chance at winning.

The Mathieu Martin coach said after the forfeiture that he had been instructed to have “no comment” for the media. However, one assistant said it would be pretty hard to continue with so few players.

It was noted the team had only about 25 players in uniform and another dozen or so on the bench in civilian attire.

The coach provided a phone number of his school’s athletic director who was prepared to discuss the issue but he was unreachable at that number.

With teams failing to compete or complete their games with the Titans. coach O’Neal fears there might be some misunderstanding. However, he as well as game officials, maintain the Titans play a well disciplined, well planned and hard hitting game on every play – the way in which the game is designed to be played.

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