SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Spartans and Clippers’ football teams are faced with an extra responsibility during training camp.
That is adjusting to playing with fewer players on the field.
The Clippers, who have 27 players out, play in the P.E.I. Varsity Tackle Football League, which has gone from 10-man football in 2017 to nine men on the field at once this year.
“It will be a little more wide open obviously,” said Clippers head coach John Turner in an interview with the Journal Pioneer before a practice at Eric Johnston Field recently. “You may see a little more scoring.”
The P.E.I. Bantam Tackle Football League has switched from eight men on the field to 6-man football.
“It’s going to be different,” admitted Spartans head coach Brian Goguen, who has 20 players in camp. “We are trying to teach them certain plays, and we’ll see our first game how it works out.
“I like the way our offence is looking, the way our defence is looking on 6-man. It’s new rules, too, and it’s going to take a lot for the coaches to learn the uniqueness of the formations, penalties and we’ll get there though.”
Goguen talked about what fans can expect to see.
“It is almost like flag football, but with tackles,” he continued. “Usually, you run three linemen, quarterback, running back, fullback or two wideouts. There are tons of different formations.”
Like Turner, Goguen also predicts a more wide-open brand of football.
“It’s going to be very high-scoring games, I think,” he added. “It’s not going to be like 7-0 games, it will be like 50-40 because it is so wide open.”
When asked his early thoughts on what he’s seen from the Clippers, who are coming off three consecutive undefeated seasons, Turner talked about the key to the team’s success.
“We are going to be really fast on defence, and that’s going to be the strength of our team,” he said. “We have a lot of guys back from last year, and defence wins championships.”
Turner went on to say that with the Clippers losing a lot of “explosive players” on offence, the team will look to grind out drives.
Both the Spartans and Clippers will open their respective regular seasons at Eric Johnston Field on Friday, Sept. 14. The Spartans will host the Kings County Steelers at 6 p.m., and the Clippers will tackle the Souris Wildcats under the lights in an 8 p.m. start.
“I hear they have a real good team,” said Turner referring to the Wildcats. “They have 25 guys out, and it should be a really entertaining and close league this year.”
The Spartans have extra motivation this year after losing the 2017 Ed Hilton Bowl championship game to Cornwall on home turf in November.
“The boys came back here, especially our Grade 9 guys, and they really want to win it this year, because it was such a tough loss,” added Goguen.