St. Stephen – The St. Stephen Spartans football team is gearing up to enter the post-season this weekend – the squad is slated to host the Simonds Seabees at the St. Stephen High School Saturday, in quarterfinal play.
The Spartans finished first place in their division in the regular season with five wins and one loss, while the Seabees enter playoffs in fourth with two wins and four losses. Gearing up for the quarterfinals, Spartans head coach Neil Grant spoke about what the Spartans anticipate Saturday.
Kickoff for the quarterfinal is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the St. Stephen High School.
Q: Will you be playing with a full team Saturday?
A: No, what I’ve done is, three of the [Charlotte County Silverados] bantam players, now that their season’s done, I’ve signed them up as affiliates … We’ve got a couple of injuries, so that will help out. I’ve got 28 on the roster now, and I’m able to dress 26.
Q: One of your injured players is a captain?
A: Yes. I’ve got a captain injury. Thomas MacMichael, he’s going to dress for the game, but not 100 per cent sure if he’s going to play, we’ll see how the game goes. He hasn’t practiced at all for two weeks, the bye week and this week, so I’m gonna dress him, but we’ll see if he plays or not.
Q: How long have the bantam players been practicing with you?
A: Since their season officially ended last Wednesday. But because I’ve been working with them the last month I’ve already worked with them. With them, we ran a similar defence, and our offensive package although it’s much more, they were introduced to it over the last three weeks of their season. The ones I approached were Grade 10 players that were going to be done with bantam completely, and that I felt I could play at the high school level. There were many good players on the bantam team, I didn’t do an open call, it was just an opportunity for a few. No guarantee that they’re going to get in the game, or no guarantee that they’re going to see the field, although I hope that they do, it was opportunity to have a bit more depth, and also they impressed me in their ability. Their season ended too soon.
Q: What do you anticipate from Simonds? You defeated them early on in the season, but do you think they’ll have an improved game?
A: I’m sure they’ve improved, they’ve had a whole season to get better, and they had some very strong athletes, so it will be a good test for us. We did not play well in our last game [Spartans 32-17 loss to St. Malachy’s Saints], there were things we had to fix on both sides of the ball, so this will be a good opportunity to show if we deserve to move on to the semifinals. Nothing is guaranteed, and we have to earn that right. This is going to be a good challenge, and that’s the way the guys are looking at it, it should be a good test to see where we are.
Q: The loss against St. Macs – do you find that your team has used that, and used that as a learning experience?
A: Oh yes. Right away we went to the film, and both myself on the defensive side, and coach Thorne on the offensive side, we knew exactly what we were doing, and what we weren’t doing. Unfortunately we were only able to dress 22, and at the half we only had 20. We asked other guys to step up … there were mental mistakes that were made that shouldn’t be made, and once we went over on film, it’s something that’s very correctable. But they know their errors. I never have a problem with a loss, if it’s something you can learn from; sometimes a loss can be a win.
Q: How is the team feeling? Are they confident about the game this weekend?
A: Confident is not the word I would use – the word I would use is that they are aware of where they need to improve. They are not satisfied just with the status quo; we’ve installed whole new offense packages. [Wednesday] we were repping both offence and defence, but with the offence every single player was repped through on the offence. All three of the affiliate bantam players, defensively they understand now what they did wrong in the last game and they understand what they have to fix. I’m anxious to see if they can put that into practice. Confident isn’t the word I would say, I would say they are aware of what they have to do, and are ready for the challenge.
Q: Anything else you wanted to add I haven’t asked about?
A: We host the quarters on Saturday – with a victory we would host the semis – I think it’s our third or fourth straight year hosting the semis. But, we’re not looking beyond the quarters. I explained to the guys this week that getting to the playoffs is never our goal. Our goal is to go to that last game, the regular season was fine, and we did what it had to do, but that’s gone, that’s over, and we’re anxious to be at the end. But to get to the end, you’ve got to win every game, we’ve got to win this first one.