A con­fi­dent bunch

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

For­give the Is­land Mariners if the squad is con­fi­dent go­ing into Saturday’s play­off game with the Monc­ton Mus­tangs, but maybe it’s well-earned.

Af­ter all, the Mariners (1-5) have played the Mar­itime Foot­ball League’s best team and de­fend­ing champ more or less even de­spite los­ing both reg­u­lar sea­son con­tests, a 43-30 loss last month and a 66-56 de­feat last week­end to wrap the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The semi­fi­nal game goes at 4 p.m. in Monc­ton and Mariners run­ning back Richard Lush is ready and wait­ing for the Mus­tangs (5-0).

“It’s bizarre. I can’t re­ally un­der­stand it, but we al­ways play Monc­ton re­ally well. Maybe we’re more con­fi­dent be­cause they’re the champs. I think in that last game we only punted once and we had a chance to close the gap (late in the game) but we fum­bled at the one-yard line,” said Lush, who dou­bles as Mariners gen­eral man­ager. “Monc­ton’s run­ning game is fan­tas­tic. It’s very tech­ni­cal. Ev­ery­one knows what they’re do­ing and they have two mam­moth guards that set the edge.”

Last week­end the Mariners of­fence ex­ploded for 56 points, thanks to quar­ter­back Brennan Davis’ six touch­down passes. He also ran one in as did Cole Bry­dges, who added two TD catches. Is­land Mariners head coach Ryan Dempsey, left, and run­ning back Richard Lush talk strat­egy at a re­cent prac­tice. The Mariners face the Monc­ton Mus­tangs in one of two Mar­itime Foot­ball League semi­fi­nals on Saturday.

Nei­ther de­fence had much luck stop­ping the other team’s of­fence and the Mariners got things to 59-56 late in the fourth quar­ter un­til Monc­ton QB Dan Com­fort ran in a three-yard TD seal­ing the game.

But the Mariners have

made steady progress dur­ing the sea­son and head coach Ryan Dempsey said his team is pre­pared for what’s to come on Saturday.

“We have to make sure we han­dle things on spe­cial teams. We gave up two spe­cial teams

touch­downs to Monc­ton (last week­end) and we get a stop when we need it and this is dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion,” he said. “We’ve got to shut down their run. Monc­ton has one run­ning play and they ex­e­cute it very well. We just have to buckle down and stop

that run­ning game.”

The other semi has the Halifax Har­bour Hawks trav­el­ling to Saint John, N.B., to play the Wan­der­ers.

The semi­fi­nal win­ners earn a berth in the MacIn­tyre Cup fi­nal June 23.

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