Champs pose Maples’ only threat

All but one team have succumbed to the Maples Packers this season.

The flag football upstarts, now 5-2, are looking up only at the 6-1 dms West Bay Hellcats in the Digicel Summer League, put on by the Cayman Islands Flag Football Association. Both squads will battle for bragging rights next Saturday, 18 August, at the Ed Bush field in West Bay.

Will Peguero Jr serves as one of Maples’ team captains and states his Packers are ready to challenge Oliver ‘Dark Star’ Parker and Cayman’s reigning six-time champions.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of facing them,” Peguero Jr said. “It comes down to experience and they are a more solid unit. What we lack in experience, we make up for with effort. Our focus is better execution, everyone humbles themselves to work together. Guys put what they want to the side and work together as a team.

“To play the Hellcats allows us to say why not us? Why can’t we win a championship? If we play our best football, the sky’s the limit. In our two losses, we beat ourselves. We’re consistent now and work hard.”

Maples notched their fifth straight victory last Saturday in West Bay, via a 20-6 thumping of the 3-4 Cox Colts. The match served as redemption for the Packers, who lost to Cox in the season opener. Barrett Edri had another stellar outing in the pocket for Maples while the Colts’ offensive woes, under quarterback Kevin Solomon, continue to linger.

The going only gets tougher for the 2011 finalists. Next up are the Hellcats this Saturday, 11 August, at 4pm. That contest is part of the usual triple-header at Ed Bush as the Cayman Power Sports and Marine Hurricanes face the Burger King Panthers at 1.30pm and the Club House Bulldogs face the PWC Renegades at 2.45pm.

Maples meanwhile have a bye week and added time to dwell on their only other loss of the year: a 13-6 defeat to dms at the end of June. Player/coach Shawn Pitterson will be among the Packers looking for answers to the league’s top offence, which shut out the Renegades 54-0 last Saturday.

Then again, veterans like wide receiver Rupert Whittaker, 25, state the focus heading into the weekend is less about the Hellcats and more about the latest win over the Colts.

“It was expected; our team is working out and the chemistry is really good,” Whittaker said. “To some people it (the Cox match) was a big rivalry game. Personally, I knew already we’d win the game. Some of the Cox players said they were short-handed but we were the better team. We will always be the better team.”

If there is any issue with Maples, it might be an overloaded roster. Players like Neil Powell, Sonny Powell and Terry Ballard are talented but lack the minutes enjoyed by stalwarts like Andrew Graham and Edison Jackson.

Whittaker, who was a team captain last season, states the role players will have an opportunity to shine.

“Guys like Deandre Simpson are a big part of the team. The guys will get their chance to shine and they will have to step up.”

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