Bantam tackle football makes return to Montague after a lengthy absence
© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Youth in the Montague area are excited to have an opportunity to play tackle football this year. From left are Jesse Campbell, Colin MacIntyre and Sam Thompson.
Football is back in Montague.
After a 15-year hiatus the Montague Vikings bantam team is turning heads in its inaugural season. The team’s core started playing flag football two years ago in Vernon River and has quickly picked up the tackle game, compiling a 5-2 record.
“I was always into contact sports and it always bugged me in flag football that I couldn’t actually hit,” explained running back Jesse Campbell. “So, tackle football has been perfect.”
The 15-year-old Orwell resident remembers taking his first big hit from a Charlottetown Privateers’ linebacker in the opening game.
“He really rung my bell,” Campbell said. “I got right back up like nothing happened.”
Sam Thompson quarterbacks the offence, but also enjoys throwing a big hit on special teams or on defence.
“I like the physicality of (the sport),” he said. “Throwing them big hits just gets you pumped up.”
The boys are pleased with their success so far and credit their coaching and the hard work they have invested for quickly learning the game.
They say it’s enabled them to meet new friends and, for some players, has allowed them to get involved with a sport and become more physically active.
Benji Stevens takes some of the fault for the former Buccaneers team ending in the late 1990s. When he decided to leave coaching, he didn’t have anyone to take over.
This spring Ross Young, who had coached Souris years earlier, approached Stevens about bringing football back to the Montague area.
I like the physicality of (the sport). Throwing them big hits just gets you pumped up. Sam Thompson of the Montague Vikings
“It’s just tremendous,” Stevens said, in seeing the program rejuvenated. “The kids are fantastic.”
The team has 28 kids in its bantam program (13- to 15-year-olds) and plans to add a varsity team next fall for kids aged 16 to 18.
“This year is a huge year for us,” Young said. “We wanted to get it off the ground.”
The team went to the half in their first game down 23-12 against the Privateers and ended up losing 45-12. They rolled off three straight victories.
“The kids are just having a ball,” Young said.
“Right now in Montague there’s a lot of excitement. . . . It’s infectious.”
The team, comprised of players from the Montague and Morell family of schools, continues to improve as they learn the subtleties of the sport.
“We have a tremendous group of athletes,” Young said.
After the three-game winning streak the Vikings lost to the big, strong Privateers club.
“Nobody likes to lose, but it was an important lesson for the boys,” Young said. “We have just been playing for a month, now all of a sudden you realize you still have a lot of football to learn.”
The Vikings and the Summerside Spartans will meet in the semifinal later this week.
Game time and location will be announced later.