By winning first Potato Bowl championship in team’s history
SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Clippers’ coaching staff knew and expected the team to be much better this season.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
The Summerside Clippers, dark jerseys, bring down a member of the Charlottetown Privateers during a P.E.I. Tackle Football League game at Eric Johnston Field in Summerside this season.
That goal has been achieved, and now the Clippers are one win away from capturing the team’s first-ever Potato Bowl. The Clippers will face the defending-champion Souris Wildcats in the championship game of the P.E.I. Tackle Football League at UPEI on Saturday. The opening kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of success the last couple of years with Souris,” said Clippers head coach Marc Reid. “They have been a pretty dominant team in our league the last little while.”
After winning just one game the past two years, 2012 was a turn-around season for the Clippers, who finished regular-season play at .500 (3-3). The Wildcats finished atop the four-team league at 5-1.
“I’ve been with this team for six years, and we have struggled and had our ups and downs,” reflected Reid. “For the Clippers (to win the Potato Bowl), it would be an amazing boost for the varsity program.”
It won’t be easy against a Souris team that knows how to win. The Wildcats will be competing in their fifth straight Potato Bowl after shutting out the fourth-place Charlottetown Privateers 28-0 in Rollo Bay in one semifinal game on Sunday.
The Clippers, who finished the regular season in second place, routed the third-place Cornwall Timberwolves 55-15 in the other semifinal at Eric Johnston Field in Summerside on Friday, Nov. 2.
“In the last couple of games our offence has put some points up on the board,” said Reid, referring to 55- and 35-point efforts. “Souris has a tough offence, and they run a lot of different things that we kind of struggle with.
“The key to our success will be we will have to play a solid defence game.”
To do that, the Clippers will have to find a way to neutralize the Wildcats’ speed, notes Reid.
“The last coupe of games the team has really come together, and we are playing pretty solid ball on both sides of the ball, offence and defence. Everybody is on the same page, understanding what has to be done on both offence and defence for four hard full quarters of football.” Clippers head coach Marc Reid
“The last couple of games against Cornwall we played more of a power team on offence, where Souris is a little more finesse and speed,” said Reid. “We are going to have to step up our game, and try to shut their speed guys down.”
Another key, Reid says, is for the Clippers to put forward a solid and consistent effort throughout all four quarters.
“We would play one good half and let the second half slide a bit against Souris before,” added Reid.
Both teams are led into the title game by young quarterbacks in their first year at the varsity level. Sean Fitzpatrick will take the snaps for the Wildcats, and Ryan Johnson will line up under centre for the Clippers.
The Wildcats won both regular-season meetings with the Clippers, including a 37-18 decision in Summerside on Sept. 20.
However, Reid feels the Clippers are a much different team than they were the last time they played the Wildcats.
“The last coupe of games the team has really come together, and we are playing pretty solid ball on both sides of the ball, offence and defence,” said Reid. “Everybody is on the same page, understanding what has to be done on both offence and defence for four hard full quarters of football.”
While there are a number of factors for the Clippers’ change of fortunes this season, the team also benefited an influx of new faces and enthusiasm from the John Turner-coached Summerside Waterwise Spartans of the P.E.I. Bantam Tackle Football League.
“The kids that came up from John’s program, there are a lot of skilled players and they’ve caught on to our schemes real well,” said Reid.