© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Quarterback Tex Mutch is the reigning Maritime Football League most valuable player.
The P.E.I. Privateers are ready to take the next step in their progression.
They had their best record (4-2) and hosted their first playoff game in their 10-year history in 2013.
They are looking to build on last year’s success starting Saturday when they begin the Maritime Football League season at home against the Capital Area Gladiators from Fredericton. Game time is 4 p.m. at the Terry Fox Sports Complex in Cornwall.
“The next step is to win that home game and get to the final,” said Vernon MacIntyre, the Privateers’s second-year head coach. “That is our goal and it is not unrealistic.”
The team has the reigning league most valuable player in quarterback Tex Mutch, the outstanding offensive player in running back Dave Clark and top receiver in Jeff Hillier. Five players made the all-star team while MacIntyre was the coach of the year and Terry Allen the top general manager.
Mutch said he is looking forward to the season-opener, but is not putting any more emphasis on it than any other game.
“It’s not really about getting amped up or hyped up, it’s just about playing every game the same way,” said the veteran, who has been with the team from beginning.
“It’s a reasonably long season. We have to play six games and then we get into the playoffs, so it’s about being consistent throughout the season and not suffering too many peaks or valleys.”
Mutch, who runs a variation of the west coast offence, said he tries to get the ball to the playmakers quickly with a balance of running and passing plays.
“We’re going to attack them with several options on the ground and through the air,” he said. “We don’t want to get too one-sided and allow their defence to really start to tee-off on us and take away our ability to be successful.”
Defences, he explained, traditionally rely more on reading and reacting to what the offence is doing, while offences require timing and space. It can lead defences to be ahead of the offence early in the season, but Mutch likes what he sees from the offence.
“Repetitions in practice make a huge difference and we have been out early and often during the winter and into the spring.”
The defence has a number of key players, including defensive tackle Donnie Mitchell, end Sean McIntosh, linebackers Jamie Gosbee, Keighan Scott and Michael Miller as well as cornerback Cameron Walsh.
MacIntyre was keeping his game plan close to his chest, but did say he expected to play it safe early in the contest.
“I don’t believe in trying to start off with a splash,” he said. “I believe in trying to have a good all-around game all four quarters.”
Some of the Privateers played or are playing university or college football while others have progressed through P.E.I. varsity programs.
“We are blending the team from all areas of the Island and with a good mixture of veterans and youth,” Mutch said.
The Privateers lost 34-14 to the Halifax Shockers in last year’s semifinal, but Mutch said they have moved on from the loss.
“It doesn’t really benefit us to look backwards. A lot of things have changed from then,” he said.
u Who – A senior men’s football team that plays in the four-team Maritime Football League.
u Did You Know? - The league plays 10 players aside, with the offence having four downs to move the ball 10 years to gain a first down and plays on a Canadian-sized football field.
u Quote – “It does lead to a pretty fast-paced game.” - Privateers’ head coach Vernon MacIntyre.
u Saturday – Capital Area Gladiators at P.E.I. Privateers, 4 p.m. in Cornwall.*
u June 7 – P.E.I. Privateers at Moncton Mustangs, 7 p.m.
u June 14 – P.E.I. Privateers at Saint John Wanderers, 7 p.m.
u June 21 – Moncton Mustangs at P.E.I. Privateers, 4 p.m. in Cornwall.
u July 5 – Saint John Wanderers at P.E.I. Privateers, 4 p.m. in Cornwall.
u July 12 – P.E.I. Privateers at Capital Area Gladiators, 4 p.m.
u July 19 – Semifinals, 4 p.m.
u July 26 – Final, 4 p.m.
u * - Admission is $5.