Host Montague in semifinal game at Eric Johnston Field
SUMMERSIDE – It's playoff time for the Summerside Waterwise Spartans.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Summerside Spartans offensive co-ordinator Paul Power addresses the offensive unit during a P.E.I. Bantam Tackle Football League game at Eric Johnston Field earlier this season.
The Spartans will host the Montague Vikings in a P.E.I. Bantam Tackle Football League semifinal match at Eric Johnston Field on Saturday. The game will begin at 5:30 p.m., and fans are asked to note the change in start time.
Summerside finished with a 5-2-1 (won-lost-tied) record, good enough for second place in the five-team league. The expansion Vikings had a very impressive first year at 5-3.
"Montague has a very good football team, and it came down to last week's game to decide second place and home-field advantage,” said Spartans head coach John Turner. “We haven't played a solid 60 minutes yet this season and it needs to start on Saturday, or our season is in jeopardy.
“As we stressed to our players in practice all week, this isn't like the hockey playoffs where you can have a bad Game 1 and still win the series. In football, it's one game to move on. We don't have time for a bad game now."
Offensively, the Spartans have started scoring points after a mid-season slump, and have averaged over 43 points in their last three games. A lot of this success goes to the offensive line, and better execution by the entire offensive unit.
"Our offensive line is starting to play much better since Cody MacKay has come on as the Spartans’ offensive line coach, but there still are times the unit (Ryan Campbell, Logan Stark, Zach DesRoches) has these mental lapses, which we cannot have on Saturday,” said Spartans offensive co-ordinator Paul Power. “We need to look after the football, and stop taking these stupid penalties."
The Spartans will look to Matt Tanton, Logan O'Brien, Cameron Paynter, Jayden Reid and Seb Roy-Garand to lead the way offensively.
"We had a 26-0 lead last week against the Vikings, and then we started turning the ball over, took our foot off the gas pedal and let them get back in the game,” added Power. “They (Vikings) are too good of a team to give them the short field."
"Montague has a very good football team, and it came down to last week's game to decide second place and home-field advantage. We haven't played a solid 60 minutes yet this season and it needs to start on Saturday, or our season is in jeopardy. As we stressed to our players in practice all week, this isn't like the hockey playoffs where you can have a bad Game 1 and still win the series. In football, it's one game to move on. We don't have time for a bad game now." Spartans head coach John Turner
Summerside's defence is also playing much better, giving up an average of 19 points in its last three games. This improved play coincided with the defensive unit getting healthy.
"When all our starters are in there, we obviously are a much better defence,” said Spartans defensive co-ordinator Brian Doucet. “But when we can practise with our full slate of players, you see the improvement the last three weeks on the field in our schemes and tackling."
Montague has an explosive offence that must be contained by Summerside’s defence.
"If the offence doesn't turn the ball over and put us in a deep hole in terms of field position, and if we force Montague to go the long field, we feel our defence will win many of those battles," added Doucet.
Summerside’s defensive line of Riley DesRoches, Colin Wood and Dylan Montgomery will need to continue winning the battles at the line of scrimmage in order to shut down the Vikings’ running game if the Spartans hope to move on to the championship game at UPEI on Saturday, Nov. 17.
"At the end of the day it's very simple, whether it is college football, the NFL or bantam football,” concluded Turner. “The team that takes care of the football in these elements, tackles well and brings intensity will win this game. Let’s hope we win these three categories on Saturday."