Ready for a fight
The P.E.I. Privateers are looking to knock off the defending league champions.
Don’t lament that the P.E.I. Privateers tangle with the powerhouse Saint John Wanderers in Maritime Football League playoff action Saturday in Saint John, N.B.
If you want to help in the semifinal game, which starts at 3 p.m., hope P.E.I. get the solid start it wants and keep the league-leading Wanderers in check.
“We have come out hard, dominate the point of attack... take on our blocks,” said Zach Davidson, Privateers defensive end. “Make them know we aren’t just coming out to lose, that we’re here for a fight.”
Saint John went 6-0 in the regular season, including a 48-14 drubbing of P.E.I. last month in Charlottetown, and outscored opponents 213-56. It’s also the three-time defending MFL champ.
P.E.I. finished 2-4 and in fourth place in the five-team circuit this year after a 2-0 start, but injuries and player commitments pulled away some of its keys guys for several weeks.
Quarterback Chris (Tex) Mutch missed three games with an ankle injury and in a summer league heavily rostered by students, jobs often come first and cam leave teams depleted.
It’s a reality lost on Privateers head coach Vernon MacIntyre. He said those factors put players in roles they aren’t accustomed to and impacts the team as the game wears on.
“Our starting quarterback went down, starting running backs go down, if affects your numbers. It makes a difference in the fourth quarter,” said MacIntyre. “These are young men going to college and university, they have to work seasonal jobs, they have to get paid.”
But there is still a game to play and MacIntyre knows he needs his team ready and focused.
“The big thing is just to keep our emotions in check early,” he said.
Mutch is a former league MVP and drives the Privateers offence. He’s in Saturday after a slow outing in a 33-7 loss last Saturday in Nova Scotia.
Mutch said the offensive key is to mix things up against a very good Saint John defence.
“We have to spread the ball around and keep them guessing. Obviously, we can’t afford to turn the ball over. Ball security is a big deal. And we have to get points on every offensive possession,” said Mutch, adding a good running game will help P.E I.’s wide receivers by drawing Wanderers defenders away from the passing lanes and into run support. “Then we’ll go outside and over the top.”
The other semi has the Fredericton Gladiators (3-2-1) hosting the Nova Scotia Buccaneers (2-3-1). Game time is 4 p.m.
Winners move on to the Moosehead Bowl final hosted by the highest remaining seed.
On the web at www.maritimefootball.pointstreaksites.com.
Chad Blanchard, right, prepares to catch a pass during P.E.I. Privateers practice Wednesday in Charlottetown.
P.E.I. Privateers quarterback Chris (Tex) Mutch throws some passes during practice Wednesday.