CFC50 Game of the Week PREVIEW (NB): Moncton’s Purple Knights will need a “war of attrition” to beat the CFC50 Titans

This Friday, Moncton’s Purple Knights are squaring off against CFC 50 Tantramar Titans with plans to reclaim dominance in a rivalry born with the Titan’s creation in the nineteen seventies.

At the time, Moncton, led by head coach Ed Skiffington, was a powerhouse, one which Titan’s rookie coach Bruce McMillan was determined to emulate, and one day, defeat. MHS had their way with TRHS early on, but according to Titan’s special team coordinator, Coach David Burns, the Titans eventually fought their way to face the Knights at a competitive level

“They (original Titan’s) were finally able to compete, and started winning as many as they lost, the games were very intense and very physical, they paved the way to Tantramar winning their first championship in the eighties.”

Special Team’s Co-Ordinator David Burns

MHS ended 2016 with losses to all of the province’s top teams, and hadn’t beat the Titans since 2014 (34-14), which coincidentally was also the last year the Knights won the provincial crown. Determined to improve, head coach Allanach committed to improving his team’s record against the province’s elite.

In the team’s season opener, the Knights euthanized the Greyhounds, 23-12, in St. John.  Beating the Hounds, a tough smash mouth program means something, but to topple the two time undefeated champs will take a lot more.

“To beat them will be a war of attrition,” remarked Allanach. “I think someone has to step up and try and stop the streak, to beat them will be a war of attrition, but the coach who is willing to risk the most has the most to gain.”

The Titan’s opened their season against the Leo Hayes Lions, whose poached roster seemed to impact the team more than anticipated, losing 36-7. Allanach, among every other coach in the Province, devoured tape of the game as soon as possible to break down the newly assembled team.

One thing he noticed from the film was the number of Titans not only playing both ways, but also contributing on special teams. The Knights are using this fact as a contributing factor while devising their game plan.

“They’re nucleus has shrunk, it’s condensed. They’ve got a lot of talented players going both ways, we’re hoping to take advantage of their fatigue by taking them deep into the fourth quarter.”

Another thing the MHS noticed about the 2017 Titans is the lethal combination of ball carriers, who if a team can stop them, will then have to stop the arm of the team’s QB Justin Vogels. Running backs, Jared Prescott and Oliver Longpre, pounded and shredded the Lion’s defence with their combined speed and toughness.

“I remember Prescott (senior) played against us when he was in grade ten,  and I said: ‘I’m going to know that guys name someday. And Longpre is doing lots of impressive things, he’s a speedster, I already knew his name, and was reminded of why I knew him,” reflected Allanach.

The Titan’s run game dominated Leo Hayes, but still took to the air despite the Lions inability to consistently stop the run.  Titan’s sophomore QB Vogels attempted 14 times, completing 9 with a TD and interception on the day. The Titans, a run dominant team, won their 2015 final against Riverview by running the same 4 run plays surprised many with their aerial attack last week. Coach O’Neal stated passing more was a goal of his for the season, not for stats or accolades, but because he knows the easiest teams to beat are one dimensional.

“By completing nine passes we’re going to win games,” commented O’Neal. “We’re going to keep showing it, the more you show the more they have to work on it, every single team will say ‘stop the run’, because they feel they can beat us on the pass.”

Allanach and O’Neal know each other well. The Mount Allison teammates have coached against one another for many years and each share a passion for the game and sincere respect for one another. Allanach didn’t seem surprised at how well Tantramar did behind sophomore QB Justin Vogels.

“Vogel’s developed quite a bit. He’s a better passer than last year, but improved QB play is characteristic of them right now.”

#4 Vogels was 9/14 week one, with 1 TD and 1 interception

Also a film junkie, O’Neal was impressed with what he saw of the Knights game against St. John.

“They’re physical, they both are actually (St.John). MHS are a well coached bunch of kids. They have their bread and butter stuff and run it really well. They’re a lot like us. We’re expecting some twists and turns, they showed a few things, but we think they’re going to save it up for us.”

Allanach had a similar response when asked how the Titan’s would plan to beat his team.

“I think he’ll use what ever tools he has available to him, and which tools he thinks will work against us. I think that changes from week to week.”

Anticipating a tough game on all fronts, O’Neal was most impressed with the Knight’s front seven and their QB Kris Cameron-Kogler. Asked if he thought the Knights could be the team to stop the team’s streak, O’Neal answered,

“They could, if we don’t play hard. We’re getting ready for a championship game, we know how bad they want it, they want to be ‘that’ team.”


#66 Riley Tower, TRHS

Preparing for a brawl, Titan’s OL Riley Tower Sr. feels his unit should be able to manage whatever Moncton throws at them, and hopes this helps beat them one last time.

“It would mean so much to me and to all the boys just to beat them one more time. Our two teams have a rivalry that goes back longer than I’ve been alive, this is a huge game for us. All we have to do to beat them is be way more physical than them and execute everything we try to do properly.”

Purple Knight defensive lineman, Nathan Hilcz, has a different opinion, and is equally confident in his teams preparation to finally slay the Titan’s.

“Well, it’s definitely going to be one heck of a game. We’re going to be running a new front that should work perfectly against them. We’re also going to run some other defensive plays to mess their O line up. We’re going to be working as a unit on both sides of the ball.”

A rivalry steeped in tradition, both Titan and Purple Knight faithful will dutifully flock to the Mounties Alumni field to cheer on their team. Everyone knows the streak will eventually stop, but no one knows when it will happen. Whether Allenach has drafted a way to stall the Titan’s engine or not, there will be plenty of purple blood spilled in the fight to reclaim a win against their long time friend and foe, the TRHS Titans.

“Our kids have bought into what we’re selling, and know we have to try to be better than we have been. We’re not going to go down there and run the same blue print we’ve used and been unsuccessful with the last two years. We’re not going down there to do the same things we did the last two years”~ MHS head coach John Allanach

The game kicks off at 4:00pm at Alumni Field (Mount A) in Sackville.


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