The Summerside Waterwise Spartans will host the Cornwall Timberwolves in their home opener at 6 p.m.
Summerside beat Cornwall in the opening game of the Papa Johns P.E.I. Bantam Tackle Football League season two weeks ago, and now face each other once again after a bye week.
“The players are excited to play at home in front of friends and family,” said Spartans head coach John Turner. “We had two solid weeks of practice, so they are looking forward to showing what they can do on the football field here at home.”
Summerside and Cornwall are part of the five-team bantam league, which includes the Amherst Wolfpack, Charlottetown Privateers, and the newest entry, the Eastern Kings Steelers.
In the league’s four-year history, the Spartans have won two championships (2011 and 2013) and advanced to another final (2010).
The Spartans have a deep roster of talent comprised of 33 players, with 11 in their final year.
“We have a great mix of Grade 7, 8, and 9 players, which bodes well for this season and the seasons to come,” said Turner. “Our atom program and our flag program is really helping to fill our bantam roster.
“They come to our team with football experience and knowledge, which is very important as there is a huge learning curve with football.”
In the last game with Cornwall, the Spartans had a big enough lead they were able to give valuable playing time to the entire roster.
The Spartans are led offensively by five Grade 9 players – quarterback Owen Turner, fullback Cameron Gallant, running back Dylan Mugridge, wide receivers Blake Gallant and Parker Cameron and centre Braden Rogerson.
“Our offence scrimmages every day against a defence, which is perhaps the best D we have ever had here,” said Spartans offensive co-ordinator Paul Power. “If we can move the ball against them, we should be able to continue to put up some points against teams in this league.”
Summerside did not turn the ball over in the opener, and made Cornwall drive the long field. The Spartans are hoping their offensive line will open big holes for the running game on Friday night.
“We emphasize and emphasize that we will not turn the ball over on offence, and if our offensive line can keep improving under our O-line coach Cody MacKay, we have the makings to have another solid offence,” commented Power.
Summerside has only one returning player on defence, linebacker Colton Perry, who has been all over the field making tackles, directing and leading the young defence in the first game and in team scrimmages.
“Colton is a football player and a leader of our defence,” offered Spartans defensive co-ordinator Jeff MacDonald. “He started some games last season as a Grade 8 and now, in his final season, we expect him to dominate on the defensive side of the ball and he has so far.”
Other players who expect to make big contributions on defence are defensive tackle Josh Myers, linebackers Dexter Stewart, Dakota Fear and Ben Tanton.
“We only have two Grade-9 starters on defence, and we feel that by season’s end the defense could be very, very good,” added MacDonald. “We just want to get better as defensive unit every week.”
The Spartans’ coaching staff remains intact from last year’s championship season.
“Our schemes have not changed a lot over the years, but obviously our players have changed and now that it’s 8-man football there needs to be some adjustments,” said Turner. “We build our offence and defence based on our players’ skill set and our coaches do a fantastic job of game planning throughout the week of practice and executing the plan in our games.
“Brian (Doucet), Paul, Jeff, and Cody, are great to work with and the result is a team that is prepared every week. It’s a lot fun coming to the football field every practice coaching with these guys.”
No. Name Pos. School
7 Charlie DesRoches QB Grade 7 Miscouche
10 Owen Turner QB Grade 9 SIS
20 Dylan Mugridge RB Grade 9 SIS
22 Connor Gallant WR Grade 7 SIS
28 Brandon Gaudet RB/TE Grade 8 SIS
51 Alex Campbell OL/TE Grade 7 Athena
60 Braden Rogerson OL Grade 9 SIS
67 Andrew Gunning OL Grade 8 SIS
72 Nathaniel Mueller OL Grade 7 SIS
80 Charlie Turner WR Grade 7 SIS
81 Parker Cameron WR Grade 9 SIS
82 Blake Gallant WR Grade 9 SIS
84 Max McCarville WR Grade 9 SIS
87 Braeden Ahern TE Grade 8 SIS
88 Cameron Gallant FB Grade 9 SIS
99 Luke Trainor OL Grade 8 SIS
12 Thomas Doucet DB Grade 9 SIS
21 Sahib Singh DB Grade 7 Athena
24 Parker Gallant DB Grade 7 SIS
25 Alex McGrath DL Grade 8 KRHS
30 John Quinlan DL Grade 7 SIS
33 Drake Gallant DB Grade 8 Athena
44 Brendon Wilson DB Grade 8 SIS
47 Clay Johnston DL Grade 8 SIS
45 Blake VanderVelden DL Grade 8 SIS
58 Dakota Fear LB Grade 8 SIS
55 Ben Tanton LB Grade 9 SIS
56 Finn Turner LB Grade 7 SIS
59 Colton Perry LB Grade 9 Athena
75 Josh Myers DL Grade 9 SIS
90 Dexter Stewart LB Grade 8 SIS
92 Kyle Wilson DL Grade 8 SIS
94 Ryan Murphy DL Grade 7 Athena
Head coach: John Turner.
Assistant coach: Brian Doucet.
Offensive co-ordinator – Paul Power.
Defensive co-ordinator/special teams – Jeff MacDonald.
Offensive line coach – Cody MacKay.
When They Play
Spartans’ remaining games:
Friday, Sept. 19
6 p.m. – Cornwall Timberwolves at Summerside.
Friday, Oct. 3
6 p.m. – Eastern Kings Steelers at Summerside.
Sunday, Oct. 12
1 p.m. – Summerside at Charlottetown Privateers.
Friday, Oct. 17
6 p.m. – Charlottetown at Summerside.
Saturday, Oct. 25
1 p.m. – Summerside at Amherst Wolfpack.
Saturday, Nov. 1
Saturday, Nov. 8
Ed Hilton Bowl.