Fredericton's Bobby McIntyre, shown here in the uniform of the AUS Acadia Axemen for whom he played four seasons, will be wearing the colours of the visiting Moncton Mustangs Friday when they take on the Capital Area Gladiators in Maritime Senior Football Legaue action at Chapman Field. McIntyre is a former Gladiator now working in Moncton, thus, the switch in allegiance. His dad, Terry, is the Gladiators' head coach, adding to the intrigue of the matchup. Game time is 8

Father vs. Son; David vs. Goliath

By Bruce Hallihan

Capital Area Gladiators' coach Terry McIntyre doesn't expect his son Bobby to take it easy on his former team Friday night.

"He's got that right," said Bobby, who played four years for the Gladiators but now plays safety for the three-time reigning Maritime Football League champion Moncton Mustangs.

Kick off is 8 p.m. at UNB's Chapman Field.

"This is going to be bittersweet for me," Bobby, 21, said, "because I love Gladiators football and I'm still tight with the majority of those guys, but once we get on the field they're going to want to hit me as hard as a truck."

The five-foot-eight, 165-pound McIntyre played four seasons with the Acadia University Axemen. The three-time Academic All-Canadian graduated May 17 with a BBA in marketing and landed a job two weeks later with the Irving group. He's based in Dieppe, necessitating the switch in football allegiances.

"It'll be interesting to see if he trash talks the old man a little bit," Terry said with a chuckle. "We miss him in the defensive backfield because he was like a coach on the field. Maybe rather than run one back against us, he'll knock it down instead."

"I'm going to play like I'm not friends with any of those guys," Bobby said. "Every single snap I will be looking for interceptions, knockdowns, tackles - you name it, I'm going to do it."

But this is more than Bobby vs. Terry and the Gladiators.

"It's David vs. Goliath," Bobby said.

The Moncton (formerly Riverview) club is in its sixth season. The Mustangs have a 45-5 regular season record and is 31-1 in the regular season and playoffs since 2007.

"They're a powerhouse," Terry said. "They run like a machine. They're very organized, they practise hard, they're very disciplined and they don't have any weaknesses.

"They're the benchmark everybody else measures up to."

The Mustangs improved to 2-0 by beating the Halifax Shockers 30-12 last Saturday at Saint Mary's Stadium.

McIntyre picked off a pass on the Shockers' first offensive drive. Eight plays later, the Mustangs were in the end zone.

Moncton defensive coordinator Sean MacIsaac knew McIntyre could do the job. He told him so at the first practice.

Bobby said, "I went in there with the mentality 'Forget your experience because this is a brand-new club and these guys are three-time defending champions.' But before I even took one rep at defensive back, Sean MacIsaac comes up to me and says 'Bobby, you're going to be the lead corner.'

"I said 'All right.' He just handed it to me. I was very flattered that I had earned that much respect."

The Gladiators are off to a forgettable start, losing 29-0 to the P.E.I. Privateers in Moncton and 32-0 to the Wanderers last Friday night in Saint John.

"What it boils down to is, at one point there were a whole bunch of teams we could just show up and beat," Terry said. "We were perennially middle of the pack, but the league has evolved and changed. Mediocrity is no longer an option. If we continue on that path, we'll be on the bottom of the pack."

That said, "We're improving every week," Terry said. "Are we going to improve enough to beat the Mustangs? Probably not, but they'll know that they've been in a football game."

The Gladiators are "having trouble" on the offensive line, Terry said.

"We had some turnover there. We have some new guys who are still kind of learning how to do things."

Saint John and Moncton have all those extra high schools, Terry said, "so they have a bigger supply of big bodies."

Despite the lopsided losses, Terry says "surprisingly, morale on the team is quite high. The guys are quite keen."

That morale was put to the test when the defence was on the field for "probably three-quarters of the game" at Saint John.

"They weren't getting on each other," Terry said. "Instead, the defence was cheering on the offence to try to get them going."

Numbers haven't been an issue, with 41 players on the roster.

Gladiators quarterback Brendan Cornford is working with several new receivers, including Kyle Vye from Bernice MacNaughton High in Moncton and Matt Landry from Tantramar Regional in Sackville.

"They're new to the system, so we have to get them and Brendan on the same page," Terry said.

"They've never really had a top running back to take the slack off the quarterback," Bobby said, "and Brendan Cornford is hit or miss. Sometimes he's fantastic and other times he'll just throw picks. Let's hope he throws some picks on Friday night."

Terry says the Gladiators will keep Bobby on his toes.

"Obviously Jeff Taylor has been our stalwart for 10 years," Terry said. "He's the leader of our offence. He's the guy who catches the ball when we need it to get caught."

Six-foot-four, 230-pound Cody Stewart, formerly of Leo Hayes High and now at Saint Mary's, "is our other big receiver," the coach said. "He's a big target with good speed. He's probably going to evolve into our go-to guy."

Jamie Edwards remains a standout on defence and McIntyre says Kyle Kish, Elliott Carr, James Wilde and Shane Mosher have turned in good games. DB Mike McSorley from St. Stephen High and safety Greg Madsen also stepped up against Saint John.

"My goal," Terry said, "is that when we get to the playoffs, the team that draws us in the first round will not be happy they drew us."