Bulldogs look for ‘special’ finish against Spartans

North Bay regroups from Ottawa comedown, shores up onside kick strategies
Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jul 21, 2023

The Bulldogs men’s team tasted defeat for the first time this season in the Northern Football Conference when they coughed up a 21-0 lead and fell in Ottawa 35-33 to the Sooners.

North Bay should have an easier time at home this Saturday when they host the winless Sudbury Spartans in a game once again played at Cundari Field because their usual home, Mike O’Shea Field, is being used for a soccer festival.

What really hurt the Bulldogs last week was the play of the special teams. Ottawa recovered two onside kicks which gave them great field position and kept the Bulldogs offence on the sidelines. So, guess what they were working on at practice this week?

“100 per cent going to be addressed this week,” says quarterback and offensive coordinator Jordan Heather.

“Moving forward it has to be a focus for our team. We cannot leave special teams until a Friday (walkthrough practice) when we do not have the numbers out. We need to focus on what we must do and make it a priority.”

Would that mean using different players on special teams?

“Somewhat,” says Heather. “We must even it out, have a few more starters in there, guys who really know football that have played and know that situation. It is a scheme thing, and we do not practise it enough.”

The Bulldogs are playing a team that already handled pretty easily on the road and now they get them at home. If North Bay gets off to a big lead, they can give their backups some much needed playing time with the playoffs around the corner.

“Anytime we can get guys playing time that is the goal,” says Heather, who passed for five scores and more than 400 yards in a losing effort last week.

“Everyone pays to play here so we want to make sure we can get guys in and if we are up by a few touchdowns, it allows us to do that,” says Heather.

The Bulldogs’ loss really hurt as they were the only team in the Northern Football Conference without a defeat. Now at 4-1, North Bay is tied with two other teams with that record.

Head Coach Marc Mathon knows there are a lot of variables out there, but mission one is to win the game they are playing.

“The position could really change this weekend with Sarnia (3-2) playing Tri-City (4-1) and Sault Ste Marie (3-2) is playing the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) All-Stars (4-1) at home,” says Mathon. “We could end up in first if Sarnia beats Tri-City.”

First things first, says Mathon. “We got to do what we have to and win, and the chips will fall wherever they may.”

The kickoff is Saturday night at 7 pm.

Original Article