Clip­pers open new sea­son

Sum­mer­side be­gins de­fence of var­sity ti­tle tonight

Journal Pioneer - - SPORTS - JOUR­NAL PIONEER STAFF

“Fri­day Night Lights” re­turns to Sum­mer­side as the P.E.I. Var­sity Foot­ball Tackle League sea­son be­gins. The Sum­mer­side Cooke In­sur­ance Clip­pers will host the Souris Wild­cats in an 8 p.m. kick­off at Eric John­ston Field. The Clip­pers have won the Potato Bowl the last three sea­sons, but are ex­pect­ing a very com­pet­i­tive sea­son from the three other en­tries in the four-team league, which in­cludes the Wild­cats, Corn­wall Tim­ber­wolves and the re­turn of the Char­lot­te­town Pri­va­teers af­ter a one-year leave of ab­sence. “I hear that all three teams have good num­bers this sea­son, which is very en­cour­ag­ing for the league,” com­mented Clip­pers head coach John Turner. “I ex­pect this sea­son to be very com­pet­i­tive.” The Clip­pers are ex­pect­ing a tough game against the Wild­cats as they have a full com­ple­ment of play­ers this sea­son, and will bring phys­i­cal­ity. “We have a big tar­get on our backs win­ning the last three sea­sons, so ev­ery­one is out to knock us off this year,” said Turner. “We have to bring the in­ten­sity on Fri­day night, and it’s about get­ting bet­ter ev­ery week. “I’m sure we will make some mis­takes in our first game with our young team, but as long as we im­prove and learn from our mis­takes is what’s im­por­tant.”

Lost 15 play­ers

Sum­mer­side lost 15 play­ers to grad­u­a­tion, but have a num­ber of play­ers from the Spar­tans’ ban­tam pro­gram make the jump to the var­sity level. “I wouldn’t say we are re­build­ing, just re­tool­ing this sea­son,” added Turner. “Our scheme might be dif­fer­ent from last sea­son, but at the end of the day our team is built around our de­fence and our team speed on de­fence and run­ning the foot­ball and pro­tect­ing the ball.” Se­nior run­ning back Caleb Daw­son leads the of­fence while sopho­more Nic Gun­ning will han­dle the quar­ter­back du­ties. Daw­son, who is also Sum­mer­side’s kicker and punter, can also mo­tion out and play slot re­ceiver. “Caleb is a multi-di­men­sional player for us, and we will uti­lize him and his skills at many po­si­tions on of­fence,” said Clip­pers of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Mike Miller. “He has a very high foot­ball IQ, and is our leader on of­fence.”

De­fen­sively

De­fen­sively, the Clip­pers’ front six will dic­tate the de­fen­sive scheme de­vel­oped by de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Jeff Mac­Don­ald and as­sis­tant coach Brian Doucet. “Our de­fence is led by our lineback­ers, Bray­den Law­less and Dex­ter Ste­wart, and a five-player ro­ta­tion on the D-line,” said Mac­Don­ald. “We will get pres­sure on the quar­ter­back, and our ball pur­suit will be strong with our team speed.”

JA­SON SIM­MONDS/JOUR­NAL PIONEER

The Sum­mer­side Clip­pers pre­pare for tonight’s sea­son and home opener in the P.E.I. Var­sity Tackle Foot­ball League against the Souris Wild­cats. The open­ing kick­off at Eric John­ston Field is set for 8 p.m.

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