Lions Bantam Football Champs for First Time
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Wednesday November 23rd, 2011

Bantam champs: The Northside Junior Lions captured the program's first ever bantam football provincial championship Sunday, defeating the Moncton Junior Highlanders 30-14 in the provincial championship game. Members of the winning team included, front row (lying on ground): Travis Branscombe, Nick Galloway and Eli Pickell; first row (kneeling): Josh Gervais (coach), Zane Jinson, Jesse Levesque, Luke MacLeod, Brock Kennedy, Michael El-Khoury, Jacob McKay, Jack Chisholm, Emmanuel Hebert, Igal Tichononv, Aaron Porter, Xavier Russell and James Duguid; second row (kneeling): Daniel Hanscom, Braden Harrison, River Sacobie, Dylan Polches, Wes Kitchen, Jeremy Hughes, Josh Haley, Marc Doucette, Alex Jordan, Kya Francis, Dillon Sanders, Garrison Fraser, Liam Cameron-Sweeney, Alex Brown, Martin Thibodeau, Turner Sturgeon, Ryan Lavigne, Tyler Duthie and Philip Paul; standing: Andrew White (coach), Colin Ozark, Zack McIntyre, Adam Cogswell, Alex White (coach), Shaun Cormier, Mark Kennedy (coach), Vince Sturgeon (head coach), Len Gervais (coach), Phil Hughes (coach), Justin Weis (coach) and Ryan Smith.
The Northside Junior Lions captured their first New Brunswick bantam football championship in the history of the program, posting a dominating 30-14 victory over the Moncton Junior Highlanders on Sunday at Scotiabank Park North.

The Lions, whose players are from Leo Hayes High School, broke a 14-14 tie with 15 seconds left in the first half as Emmanuel Hebert grabbed an 18-yard touchdown pass from Josh Haley on a reverse. Haley booted the two-point convert to give the Lions a 22-14 halftime lead. Nick Galloway added another TD on a four-yard plunge late in the fourth quarter and Haley booted another two-point convert to account for the final margin in a game in which the Lions never trailed.

The Lions, who play out of the Capital Area Minor Football Association, opened the scoring on their first possession of the game as quarterback Turner Sturgeon crashed over from five yards out to cap an eight-minute scoring drive to make it 6-0. The Highlanders answered just three plays later as Allen Carroll took off on a 60-yard TD run to tie the score at 6-6.

The Lions went back up 14-6 as Football New Brunswick player of the game Ryan Lavigne capped off a long scoring drive with a 15-yard TD run. Haley split the uprights with a two-point convert - kicked converts are worth two points in minor football - to make it 14-6. But the Highlanders got it right back on the ensuing kickoff with Carroll going 75 yards on a reverse, and QB Greg Burdit booting the two-point convert to once again tie the score, setting the stage for the Haley-to-Hebert heroics late in the first half.

The second half was a defensive struggle, with the Lions' holding strong after the Highlanders picked up a pair of fumbles in Lions' territory. The defence came through again late in the game, forcing the Highlanders to turn the ball over on downs with four minutes left. The Lions' ball control offence took it from there, with Galloway capping it off with the late TD.