WANT­ING A WIN

Is­land Mariners aim to break nine-game los­ing streak in matchup ver­sus MFL league champ Monc­ton Mus­tangs on Satur­day in Corn­wall

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY CHARLES REID

Is­land Mariners aim to break nine-game los­ing streak against Monc­ton Mus­tangs Satur­day.

There’s a sim­ple goal, at least on pa­per, for Richard Lush and Is­land Mariners head­ing into Satur­day’s home opener in Corn­wall.

“To be a re­al­ist… and win a damn foot­ball game,” said Lush, Mariners player-gen­eral man­ager, at a re­cent prac­tice. “Win­ning makes it a lit­tle more fun to come to prac­tice and not (worry about get­ting) your butt kicked.”

Last year, the newly-formed Mariners (rising from the ashes of the P.E.I. Pri­va­teers pro­gram) went 0-6 in its first sea­son and bowed in the play­off semi­fi­nal to the Saint John Wan­der­ers.

This year, the 0-2 Mariners (and 0-9 since last May) face the defending champ Monc­ton Mus­tangs (2-0) in its first Mar­itime Foot­ball League matchup at home for the elu­sive first win. Game time is 2 p.m. at the Terry Fox Sports Com­plex.

Monc­ton leads the four-team cir­cuit, but not by much as it’s outscored op­po­nents 69-46 in wins over the fledg­ling Hal­i­fax Har­bour Hawks and Saint John, which has won four MacIn­tyre Cup ti­tles this decade.

The Mariners are com­ing off sub­stan­tial road de­feats to Hal­i­fax (39-9) and Saint John (6312), but new head coach Ryan Dempsey sees im­prove­ment at ev­ery prac­tice.

“It hasn’t re­flected that in the score un­for­tu­nately, but we’re work­ing more as a unit, see­ing who can do what,” said Dempsey, a for­mer Pri­va­teers player “There are a lot of new guys, young guys out of high school, guys who haven’t played foot­ball in a while. It’s a slow process, but we’re mak­ing those steps. It may take a while, but it will be well worth it.”

Player com­mit­ment, al­ways a buga­boo with the Pri­va­teers, looks im­proved this sea­son as Lush said he’s got 43 bod­ies on the ros­ter, in­clud­ing play­ers from the var­sity pro­grams in Souris and Sum­mer­side. Last year, the Mariners played games with as lit­tle as 18 on the field.

New faces in­clude Jarvis Sim­monds tak­ing over Dave Clark’s start­ing quar­ter­back job as well as of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor De­von Spar­man and spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Cole Bry­dges.

Re­turn­ing are Kyle Richard­son, 52-year-old de­fen­sive line­man Don­nie Mitchell and 2017 all-star of­fen­sive line­man Chris Mur­phy.

The speedy Clark, de­spite goad­ing from his GM, is on the fence for com­mit­ting to the sea­son given his re­cent re­turn from the world cheer cham­pi­onships and the toll it took.

“There’s a lot of wear and tear on the body. I def­i­nitely want to this year and I’m train­ing to see where I’m at,” said Clark.

As to where Satur­day’s game stands, Dempsey, who’s from Monc­ton and knows many of the play­ers on the Monc­ton roaster, said win­ning comes down to plan­ning and a lit­tle seat-of-the-pants mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

“We have as game plan that we be­lieve will work, (but) we’ll have to make ad­just­ments (at half­time). Who­ever makes the bet­ter ad­just­ments will come out on top.”

Saint John (1-1) vis­its Hal­i­fax (1-1) in Satur­day’s other game.

Con­tact the Mariners at is­land­mariners­foot­ball@gmail.com.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Is­land Mariners quar­ter­back Jarvis Sim­monds throws a pass dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice in Char­lot­te­town.

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