The Clippers, who won their first-ever Papa John’s P.E.I. Varsity Tackle Football League championship in 2015, will meet the Cornwall Timberwolves in this year’s title game at UPEI on Friday at 8 p.m. This will be the Clippers’ fifth straight appearance in the Potato Bowl.
Summerside won both head-to-head meetings, but Cornwall has been playing great football recently, upsetting the No. 2-ranked Souris Wildcats 13-7 in Sunday’s semifinal.
“Cornwall is a well-coached team that is playing with a lot of confidence right now, and I’m sure Coach (Richard) Lush will have them ready to play on Friday night,” commented Clippers head coach John Turner. “Regular season means nothing Friday.
“We need to be ready to play, protect the football, and execute our game plan on both sides of the ball.”
Senior quarterback Camren Gavin and wide receiver Cameron Paynter, along with a big athletic offensive line – Luke Trainor, Braeden Rodgerson and Carter Praught – lead the Clippers’ offence.
“We get great leadership from Gavin and Paynter,” added Turner.
Gavin has thrown for 22 touchdowns with no interceptions, and is a threat to run.
“I haven’t really let Gavin run with it all season, but on Friday we will open up the playbook for sure,” said Turner. “We have a talented bunch of receivers in Parker Cameron, Cameron Wall and Owen Turner, and our tight ends (Hayden Gauthier and Cameron Gallant) not only can block, but they’re great at catching the ball as well.”
Summerside’s balanced attack is supported by the running game of Cole Adams, Caleb Dawson and Brandon Thomas.
“All three have a different skill set, which allows us to run in the tough areas,” said Turner. “We can also use their speed on the outside, and they block very well on passing downs.”
Defensively, the Clippers are led by senior middle linebacker Jon Rose.
“Rose is a quiet leader, but leads by example, along with other senior backers Evan Richard, Morgan Crossman and Liam Kerwin,” said Clippers defensive co-ordinator Jeff MacDonald. “We have a great bunch of committed kids who believe in each other and the schemes we use.
“We might not have the biggest D in the league, but speed-wise and with their determination, they are great as a unit. They will make Cornwall earn every yard.”
The defensive line is anchored by Jackson Clark and a secondary that hasn’t given up the big play all season.
“We need to have our best game of the season, and not allow Cornwall offensively to get any momentum and confidence going early,” said MacDonald. “If we do this and give our offence the football, they will put some points on the board.”
Kicker Caleb Dawson and the special-team units will need to continue their great season as a big play on special teams can change momentum.
Dawson has converted 85 per cent of his extra-point tries, and is strong punting the ball deep.
Results of last five Potato Bowls:
2015 – Summerside Clippers 55 Charlottetown Privateers 0.
2014 – Charlottetown Privateers 42 Summerside Clippers 28.
2013 – Souris Wildcats 28 Summerside Clippers 0.
2012 – Souris Wildcats 20 Summerside Clippers 15.
2011 – Souris Wildcats 47 Charlottetown Privateers 28.