|Capital Area DQ Gladiators’ player-coaches Jamie Edwards, left, and Jeff Taylor don’t have a lot in common — with one notable exception: their love of the game of football. They’ve helped build the Gladiators into a contender in the Maritime Football League. The Gladiators host the Halifax Shockers in a Maritime Bowl AAA semifinal Saturday at 6 p.m. at Chapman Field.|
Sharing a passion for pigskin
By Robert Touchie
They really couldn’t be any more different, and other than the game of football they have very little in common.
Capital Area DQ Gladiators player-coaches Jamie Edwards and Jeff Taylor are the proverbial odd couple. They have, however, clearly been on the same page the last four years in their mission to turn around a then-sinking Gladiator ship and help the Glads win a Maritime Senior Football League title.
That’s something firmly within their reach if they can just get by the 7-1 Halifax Shockers Saturday night at Chapman Field in a Maritime Bowl AAA semifinal.
The Gladiators take a 5-3 record into the 6 p.m. kickoff.
Admission is $2.
“In 2005 Coach (Larry) Wisniewski met with Taylor and I and said, ‘Jamie, you’ve got the ‘D’ and Jeff, you’ve got the ‘O’, make it work,” said Edwards, describing how Wisniewski passed the reins to the two of them, after not having the time any longer to commit to the team. “With Mike Casey handling the head coach role, we managed to get it together, but it hasn’t necessarily been smooth sailing the whole way along.”
Edwards is speaking of a team that was floundering, coming off of a 1-7 season in 2004 and suffering the loss of many veteran players who had moved on to other pursuits for various reasons.
It was daunting, but the ‘odd couple’ made it work.
“I think the biggest thing is in the huddle,” said Edwards, a fiery redhead who checks in at a hulking six-foot and 230 pounds. “We’re just like night and day in there — we’re both thinkers, but I am vocal and very aggressive whereas Jeff is…” Edwards’ sentence is finished by Taylor, like an old married couple.
“I take things in stride,” said Taylor, who at 33 has a body more commensurate with a 20-year-old, tipping the scales at a svelte 175, standing fivefoot- 11. “You could say I am laidback, not a whole lot gets me excited.”
The dichotomy between the two goes beyond temperament, as Taylor, a UNB business and education grad who presently teaches at Chipman Forest Avenue School (grades 6-12), is a person focused on math and science whereas Edwards, a Bishop’s University grad and former Gaitor football team captain, is one who has a propensity for literature and history.
The two have common ground in playing football though … and yes, a love of coaching.
“I’ve never seen anyone scheme like Jamie,” said Taylor, of his counterpart’s football coaching acumen.
“He has a great football mind, he can scheme us up well against any opponent … anyone.”
“The man has hands like glue,” said Edwards of his coaching partner Taylor, who doubles in the fall as the FHS varsity football offensive coordinator.
“And as far as a football mind, especially an offensive one, there is no one I trust as much as I trust Jeff, he’s really smart.”
Wait a second, is this a bromance? Nope.
The praise is legitimate.
Very clearly, the two of them have taken a downtrodden, talent-empty organization at the edge of folding and, along with Coach Casey, in four years have built a solid foundation that seems poised to be a Maritime Football League power for years to come.
The core of the team is still very young, averaging 23 years of age on their 25- man roster.
“We have 25 men committed now,” said Edwards.
“We started the year with over 40, but really we’ve got who we need and want now — we have ‘the committed’… we’ve never been as solid as a football organization as we are right now.”
Edwards might not be overplaying his hand, as the Gladiators recently had 19 all-stars named to the Maritime League’s all-star game to be played Saturday, Aug. 15 at UPEI, a stat not to be sniffed at.
Edwards and Taylor lead the way in the award parade, with each being nominated as the top player at their respective positions — Edwards as the league’s top defensive lineman and Taylor as the circuit’s top wide receiver.
“Halifax, I think has an idea they are going to come in here and run the table,” said the 29-yearold Edwards, speaking of a Halifax team that spanked the Glads in Halifax 39- 13 earlier in the season.
“They are good, but there is more to that game than I will get into … I will say that we have some wrinkles ready to unveil and we will be pulling out all the stops this time.”
Edwards was clearly avoiding discussing the July 4 match marred by controversial calls and ejections to Gladiatior stalwarts Bruce Canning and Tyler Doak, in which the fireworks from an American holiday seemed to settle into the Halifax harbour and find an emotional and combative home in Huskie Stadium.
“I don’t want to get into that game too much,” said Edwards. “I might get myself into trouble, but I will say we have had good practices and we are just very well-calibrated as a unit right now.”
In an angrily contested and heated affair, marred by controversial calls from the referees, the Gladiators came out on the short end of the stick, despite being only behind by a modest 10-7 count at half.
Taylor, for one, doesn’t see the Shockers relenting much this time around.
“They bring a lot of pressure,” said Taylor. “So really a lot rides on how much time our O-Line is able to give to our offensive weapons (citing quarterback Brendan Cornford, running backs Tommy Broad and Josh MacArthur as well as wideout Andrew Hubbard — a man Taylor says could be ‘the league MVP’)…and actually, Saturday night we’ll basically live and die on how our OLine does.”