Maritime grid titles at stake
Football: Panthers take on Saints in pee wee with Kats
vs. Destroyers in bantam at Knowledge Park Sunday
By Bruce Hallihan
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Thursday November 18, 2010
Appeared on page B1
The Maritime peewee and bantam football championship games have been
moved to Knowledge Park Drive Field.
The Capital Area Minor Football Association teams hope the trophies
don't end up in Nova Scotia.
The Oromocto Panthers will take on the Bedford-Sackville Saints in
the peewee final Sunday at noon. The Fredericton Southside Junior Black
Kats will battle the Dartmouth Destroyers at 2 p.m. for bantam boys
The Maritime championship games were originally slated to be played
in Saint John, but were switched when two CAMFA teams made it through.
"Economically it made little sense to have the teams travel to
Saint John to play the games," Football New Brunswick president
Arliss Wilson said in a release.
Wilson said the Nova Scotia teams didn't care as it's the same
distance to either location for them.
The Oromocto team, made up of students from Harold Peterson Middle
School, finished the CAMFA middle level league regular season with a 5-2
record, good enough for second place. The Panthers defeated the
Northside Nordics from Nasis Middle School 34-0 in the CAMFA semifinal
to earn another shot at the undefeated Devon-Pointe Ste. Anne Wildcat-Gladiateurs,
the only team to beat them during the season.
The Panthers collected their first CAMFA middle level championship
with an 18-6 upset of the Wildcat-Glads, a team composed of students
from Devon Middle School and Ecole Sainte-Anne.
With the victory, the Panthers became the first recipients of the
newly minted Dan McCullough Trophy named after the third-year B.C. Lions
player who began his football career in CAMFA in 1996.
The Panthers weren't done there.
Last Sunday at Canada Games Stadium in Saint John, they beat the
Fundy Minor Football champion - and previously undefeated - Lancaster
Riley Spear led the Panthers with two receiving touchdowns. Samuel
Brassard ran for another TD and Tyler Feltis rounded out the scoring by
kicking two converts.
Jake Riley was named by the Abbies coaches as the Panthers defensive
MVP of the game while they gave the offensive MVP award to Spear.
Spear, whose father Steve is Oromocto's head coach, said receiving
that honour "was pretty cool," but he takes greater pride in
how far the Panthers have come.
"It's been a pretty amazing season," Riley Spear said.
"We beat two undefeated teams to get this far. In the game against
Lancaster, our first half was really good. We got our three touchdowns
and the big lead."
Spear, said he's heard the Saints "have done really well this
year, but it's a whole new ballgame Sunday. We don't know what players
they have or who's their best, so we'll just try to do the best we can.
It's going to be a great atmosphere."
Spear, 13, has been playing football for six years - none more
enjoyable than this one.
"When the season started I didn't think we'd make it this
far," Spear said. "But our teamwork and our strong bond have
made the difference. We really enjoy playing together."
The Junior Black Kats have won the Mike Dollimore Trophy as Capital
Area bantam champions eight times since their inception in 1999. They've
appeared in seven provincial bantam finals and came away as winners of
the Samuel Babb Bowl six times.
The Kats have made it to four Maritime bantam championship games,
winning the Ed Edmonds Cup on two occasions.
This season, however, Fredericton travelled a bumpier road to get
The Junior Black Kats dropped their first two games and were 2-4
before ending up with a 4-4 record and second place.
In the CAMFA semifinal, the Kats led the Northside Junior Lions 19-0
at one point but needed a blocked convert with 18 seconds remaining to
escape with a 27-26 victory.
The Kats blanked the Oromocto Area Junior Blues 6-0 in bone-chilling,
driving rain in the CAMFA final, then shut out the Fundy Minor Football
champion St. Stephen Silverados 23-0 in last Sunday's provincial final
in Saint John. Fredericton led 9-0 at the half.
"They were one of the most-disciplined teams that we've
played," Kats coach Steve Drisdelle said. "Having only 20-22
players on their roster makes it easy to coach. They all knew their job
and they all knew it well. But I think in the long run, with our depth
and our ability to pass effectively - and balance it with the run - we
were able to wear them down."
Fredericton and Dartmouth squared off in last year's Maritime final,
which turned out to be a thriller.
"It was a 28-21 overtime victory for us," Drisdelle said.
"They're like we are: they tend to play a very balanced game. We
anticipate them to be fast and very skilled. Our offence should be used
to their defence or at least familiar with their defence. Us coaches are
creatures of habit, so I would assume we're going to look very similar
again this year."
Drisdelle says some of the players are familiar with each other
"from playing spring ball and stuff, but they're largely
unknown," he said. "I would assume they're kind of like we
are: half returning players and half not."
With consecutive shutouts, the Kats "have been playing some
lights-out defence," Drisdelle said. "We've had some of the
provincial champion varsity Black Kats coming out to a few practices and
giving back to the program. The boys are soaking it all up and taking
advantage of it all."
Drisdelle is pleased to have home-field advantage.
"Having both teams playing at home is very nice," he said.
"We're excited about this. We just know that the hometown crowds
are going to be out in full force, so we're hoping to make it a noisy