SUMMERSIDE – All season long the Cornwall Timberwolves were the best team in the 2017 Papa John’s P.E.I. Bantam Tackle Football League.
They didn’t deviate from that script in the playoffs, either.
The Timberwolves overcame an early deficit en route to rallying for a 48-20 victory over the Summerside Waterwise Spartans in the Ed Hilton Bowl. Cornwall, which lost in the final the last two years, ended the Spartans’ four-year run as league champions.
“Unbelievable,” was how Timberwolves head coach Mark Green described how it feels to win the provincial championship. “It was a great year, the guys played hard.
“Summerside is a wicked team, and to finally come out and beat Summerside, it feels great. . . They are always the team to beat.”
Spartans head coach Logan Plant tipped his hat to the Timberwolves.
“They played an amazing game,” said Plant. “We came out with everything we had, and the better team won.”
Before a big crowd at windy Eric Johnston Field, the Spartans led 20-8 late in the first half. But two quick touchdowns by quarterback Tyler Newson and Tyler Smith gave the Timberwolves a 24-20 lead at halftime.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” said Green. “Coming out in the first half it was neck and neck the whole way.
“They pulled ahead pretty early, but our guys dug deep to pull it off in the second half.”
Overall, Newson, who also plays defence, finished with three touchdowns and successfully kicked five of six two-point converts.
“Tyler is an all-round amazing athlete,” said Green. “This is his third year at this level, and he’s one kid I can put anywhere and he’ll excel.”
Isaac Saunders and Ben Coles also registered major scores for the Timberwolves. Coles also added a safety.
Quarterback Ethan Haakman, with two touchdowns and one convert, and Kieran Arsenault, who had one major score, accounted for Summerside’s scoring.
Newson was named the offensive player of the game, and the Spartans’ Breton Brown was announced as the defensive player of the game.
Green acknowledged the Timberwolves made some adjustments defensively after Summerside jumped out in front. The key to Cornwall’s defensive game plan, noted Green, was to pressure Haakman.
“They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in (Haakman), and we knew we had to put a lot of pressure on him, because the moment he gets to the outside he is hard to contain,” said Green.
Plant admitted the Timberwolves’ defence was dominant.
“They sacked us, I think, four times, and really shut us down on offence,” said Plant. “They were blitzing a lot, and they got through a few times. That took us by surprise, because we haven’t really been sacked that often.”
The wind was also a factor, noted Plant.
“It really decided what we were going to do on offence, passing-wise,” said Plant. “The wind prevented us from throwing in certain parts of the game, and that really slowed us down.”
Overall, the Timberwolves completed the regular season and playoffs at 7-1 (won-lost). Their lone loss came in a meaningless regular-season finale to the Charlottetown Privateers.
“That was good, because it opened up their eyes and we didn’t want them going in (the playoffs) a little too confident,” said Green. “It was the same today, we knew it was going to be hard.”
The Spartans’ overall record was 5-3.
Recent Ed Hilton Bowl winners:
2017 – Cornwall Timberwolves.
2016 – Summerside Waterwise Spartans.
2015 – Summerside Waterwise Spartans.
2014 – Summerside Waterwise Spartans.
2013 – Summerside Waterwise Spartans.
2012 – Charlottetown Privateers.
2011 – Summerside Waterwise Spartans.
2010 – Cornwall Timberwolves.