#CFC50 HS game preview (NB): Trojans ready to shut down powerful Tantramar offense

Woody Hayes Memorial Field will be the site of the season opener between the Harrison Trimble Trojans and the Tantramar Titans this Friday evening in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Both coaches expect the game to be a challenge, and with both teams having enjoyed successful offseason programs and training camps, it will be interesting to see how their rosters stack up against each other.

Coming off a perfect 6-0 season that ended with a division championship, the #CFC50 No. 50 Tantramar Titans, coached by Scott O’Neal, are a team that knows how to win consistently regardless of opponent. The Titans are returning an explosive rushing attack this season that benefits from both a star-studded offensive line, as well as two game changing running backs, Aidan O’Neal and Jared Prescott.

The Harrison Trimble Trojans are coming off a 2-3-1 record, but have a lot to be excited about as the future continues to get brighter. Led by their head coach, Mark Teed, the Trojans knows what needs to be taken care of in order to shut down the Titans’ powerful offence.

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“The Titans are going to do what they do well, they are going to run at every team until someone stops them,” the Trojans’ head coach said. “Solid line play and a very talented running back is something we are going to have to try to contain as much as possible. Once their big bodies establish the off-tackle and outside they are extremely effective.”

It is Aidan O’Neal, 2015 league All-Star and recent member of Team New Brunswick, that the Trojans’ defence will need to contain in order to win on Friday. It is no secret that O’Neal is the player who the Trojans must stop in order to have a shot at winning their home opener.

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“We certainly know about Aidan O’Neil their tailback,” coach Teed said. “He had a huge season last year and we expect much of the same from him with his offensive line up front and his elusive slashing running style. He gets to the line of scrimmage fast and we need to be set and work fundamentals, if a LB over shoots or gets caught inside formations Aidan will make a team pay every time.”

Despite their success last season, and the high powered running game they are returning for the 2016 season, head coach Scott O’Neal knows better than to underestimate the Trojans in this opening matchup.

“You never look past an opponent, and I think actually Trimble could be a sleeper,” admitted the Titans’ head coach. “They were a tough team last year.”

The Titans’ head coach also understands just how crucial the season opener is to setting the tone for the rest of the year, and he knows from last season’s matchup against the Trojans that it will be a hard fought battle once again.

“I always worry about that first game of the year because it sets momentum for your whole season, and I know they’re going to be tough from last year,” offered coach O’Neal. “Trimble is going to be better.”

One way in which the Trojans have certainly gotten better is with the productive training camp period they had this off-season. Coach Teed has been impressed with the work and dedication he has seen from his team so far, and he is looking forward to seeing the results against the Titans on Friday.

“We had a solid training camp which made it clear that the guys had put in work in the weight room and gyms over the offseason,” coach Teed said.  “At this point the offense has come together a bit faster based on the veteran players we have on that side of the ball. Defensive coaches had a few more holes to fill left by graduating players from last year’s defense but we have been very encouraged with the effort and work over the last week to 10 days of camp.”

The Trojans also have the benefit of being fully healthy and physically ready to go for Friday’s home opener against the reigning champs.

“Knock on wood, but our training camp and exhibition game last week has let us remain healthy,” the Trojans’ head coach said. “Coaches this camp made a big effort to keep guys fresh as possible.”

With the Titans boasting a rushing attack that can hit a home run on any given play, along with some notable players on defense as well, the Trojans’ coaching staff knows that their own lineman need to be ready to step up on Friday and have a large impact on both sides of the ball.

“Anytime you play Tantramar you need your linemen to step up and battle,” offered the Trojans’ head coach. “Tantramar has made a name for themselves for their size and toughness on the lines so we will need to be up to the task and play with them on both sides of the ball at the point of attack.”

Friday’s matchup against Harrison Trimble will be the debut start for the Titans’ new quarterback, Jeff Lafford. But despite their inexperience at the quarterback position, the Titans will have their effective running game to lean on as Lafford gets comfortable in his new role.

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Coach Teed’s approach to Friday’s matchup is all about focus and playing smart football, and with a good idea of what they are up against, the Trojans will look to establish their own offensive attack to control the time of possession and limit the opportunities for the Titans’ running game.

“We need to focus on staying together and being patient,” offered coach Teed. “Ball control and sustaining some drives will be key for us as well as limiting mental mistakes and turnovers. Tantramar is far too good of a team for us to be helping them with turnovers and penalties.”

We see the game playing out as a tough physical battle in which both sides find some success on defense. But ultimately, it will be too hard to contain Aidan O’Neal for the entire game, especially when you consider he will be splitting carries and staying fresh. Do not be surprised if Aidan O’Neal starts off his 2016 campaign with a bang against the Trojans.

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