SUMMERSIDE – It all comes down to one game.
The Summerside Cooke Insurance Clippers (5-0) will host the Cornwall Timberwolves (3-2) in the Potato Bowl to decide the Papa John’s P.E.I. Varsity Tackle Football League champion on Saturday. Kickoff at Eric Johnston Field is 2:30 p.m.
The Clippers are going for their third consecutive Potato Bowl. This is the first time Football P.E.I. will stage the Ed Hilton Bowl (bantam championship) and Potato Bowl in Summerside.
“We have never hoisted the championship trophy on our home field,” said Clippers head coach John Turner. “This would be very special to do this on Saturday afternoon.”
Summerside won both regular-season meetings with Cornwall.
“Our players need to understand Cornwall is coming here to win the championship, and whatever happened in the past is irrelevant,” emphasized Turner. “They’re a much improved team since we played them on Sept. 29. Guarantee you Coach (Richard) Lush and his staff will have his team ready to play.”
Turner added Summerside needs to match Cornwall’s intensity.
“This may sound cliché, but this isn’t a best-of-three series and you can afford one bad game; this is one game, and it must be our best game of the season.”
Seniors Parker Cameron, Owen Turner, Jordan Arsenault, Cole Adams, Cameron Gallant, Braden Rogerson, Josh Myers and Sean Lawlor lead the Clippers offensively.
Summerside’s balanced attack features great balance between running and passing. Quarterback Owen Turner recorded 12 touchdown passes and one running score, with only one interception in four games.
Turner’s favourite target, wide receiver Parker Cameron, had nine scores – seven through the air and two on the ground.
Second-year receiver Caleb Dawson registered three majors, slot receivers Jordan Arsenault and Spencer Haakman combined for three scores and tight end Cameron Gallant had two touchdowns.
Cole Adams led the team with seven rushing touchdowns in three games. He has the ability to break any run with his speed and hard-nosed running style.
“This is the most complete team I’ve coached offensively as we can score with speed and power on the ground,” assessed Turner. “We have five receivers who all can catch the football, and a tight end who can block and give us a solid option in the passing game.
“We have a lot of weapons and can make quick adjustments. . . It all starts up front with our offensive line, and they’ve done a great job all season.”
Longtime defensive co-ordinators Brian Doucet and Jeff MacDonald have developed another fast, hard-hitting Summerside defence that only allowed nine points all season, and has given the offence great field position all year.
Josh Murray and Jaxon Clark, who can disrupt the running game and pressure the quarterback, lead the defence. Interior linemen Ryan Murphy is a space eater while defensive end Alex McGrath is a pure pass rusher.
“These two guys can beat you with speed, but can also beat you with their power,” said MacDonald. “More importantly, they’re leaders.”
The Clippers’ solid linebacking core consists of senior middle linebacker Blake Jurkowski, sophomore Dexter Stewart and rookie Brayden Lawless.
“These three tackle very well, swarm to the football and are solid in pass coverage,” added MacDonald.
In the secondary, veterans Dylan Mugridge and Keegan Wagner patrol the back end, and don’t mind supporting the run.
“We think Muggy is the best cover corner in the league, and we will put him on Cornwall’s best receiver on Saturday,” added Doucet.
Dawson is Summerside’s punter and place kicker. He made over 90 per cent of his extra points, and is averaging 35 yards on punts.
The Clippers have a dangerous return game with speedsters Cameron, Dawson, Adams and Jordan Arsenault.
Summerside Clippers’ injury report for Saturday:
Probable – LB Blake Jurkowski (ankle), RB Cole Adams (knee), Spencer Haakman (knee), Keegan Wagner (groin).
Questionable – DB Kurtis Paula (upper body).
Out – Cameron Wall (collarbone), Finn Turner (broken arm).