RECAP: Purple Knights bounce Highlanders out of contention; CFC #38 Greyhounds, Royals, Black Kats advance

The first round of the 2014 New-Brunswick High School Football playoffs provided dramatic finishes, improved play, and a level of intensity reserved for the postseason.

In the Eastern Conference, the number one seed Moncton Purple Knights hosted the Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders on a rainy Friday night at Rocky Stone Field. The Purple Knights opened the scoring with an onside punt into the end zone that confused the Highlanders just long enough for the Knights to pounce on the ball and gain a 7-0 edge.

The Highlanders would not be denied on the following possession; however, sending fullbacks Chris Sauter, and Mitch Deware up the middle and countering with tailback Bryson Woodworth. The hard-hitting running back trio chipped away and eventually scored on a three yard scamper from Deware.

Shortly after the Highlander score, Moncton High’s all star Josh Hicks received a reverse handoff in the backfield, broke a couple tackles, and with blistering speed, took off for a 50 yard major.

The halftime buzzer sounded as the scoreboard read 14-7; unfortunately, the Highlanders were unable to muster the same intensity in the second half, as an assortment of defensive injuries and a lack of offensive execution plagued the team throughout the final half of play.

The Purple Knights emerged victorious, handing the Highlanders a 32-14 defeat and an early exit from the 2014 playoffs. The Knights will host the Fredericton High Black Kats at Rocky Stone field on Friday night with a finals birth on the line.

Across town, in the other Eastern Conference tilt, the Riverview Royals hosted the Tantramar Titans in a back and forth affair. In their previous meeting, the Royals blanked the Titans 13-0 on Tantramar’s home field. The Titans offense rectified their mid season struggles early, scoring their first major in the opening quarter.

The two teams exchanged blows until the Royals nailed a field goal in the final seconds of play to secure a 21-20 victory and a meeting with the undefeated Greyhounds on Halloween night.

In the South Western Conference, CFC#38 Saint John Greyhounds and Fredericton Black Kats continued their season long dominance, defeating the Leo Hayes Lions and the Oromocto Blues respectively.

The Black Kats’ offense overwhelmed the Blues’ defense, posting 27 points in defiance of a few missed chances. Despite losing the quarterfinal matchup, Oromocto played well and held in as long as they could, ultimately succumbing to Fredericton’s speed and strength. With a 27-10 victory, the Black Kats will travel to Moncton, to take on all star Josh Hicks and the rest of the first place Knights.

Despite losing their starting running back to injury, the Greyhounds continued to roll on Friday night, defeating the Leo Hayes Lions 24-2. Losing half of their dynamic backfield could be an issue moving forward however, as the running game was noticeably affected by the injury.

The Greyhounds will need to rally together and bring their best effort Friday night, in order to avoid an upset loss to the ever-improving Riverview squad.

Both semi-final bouts are shaping up to be close games, as all four teams seem capable of capturing the Ed Skiffington trophy.

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