Saturday, July 9th was circled on the calendars of most members of the Airdrie Irish.
That was the day Airdrie played host to their long-time rivals the Calgary Wolfpack in Alberta Football League (AFL) action.
Irish President and running back Connor Lutz says the club anticipates their match against Calgary every year. Lutz too had the game marked on his calendar but, unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to suit up for it after breaking his leg against the Edmonton Elite. Lutz says while he missed the game, the Irish didn't let the loss of their number one running back slow them down in rolling to a 48 - 29 win over the visiting 'Pack.
"It's a fun game to play in," explains Lutz. "Unfortunately, I had to sit this one out but our attack against the Wolfpack was still grounded in a strong running game. We took a committee approach this week. We had Braxton Hyland fill in as the power runner and had Marshall Tailleur come in as the slasher, speed guy and the two of them were able to chew up tons of yards on the ground in combination with quarterback Josh Williams booting out and giving them a headache that way."
That meant the Irish weren't required to throw the ball much on offense to chew up the field. In fact, the Airdrie defense might have had their hands on more balls than their receivers did, coming away with a total of nine turnovers, seven interceptions and another two fumble recoveries. Two of the turnovers were returned for touchdowns.
The win gives Airdrie a 3-1-1 record with just one regular-season game left to play and guarantees the team a home playoff game in August. Despite their excellent season to date, Lutz feels there's still room for improvement.
"On the offensive side we've really relied on a strong run game and a really dominating offensive line but there's still a lot of progress we could make to tie off all aspects of the game together and be a bit more two-dimensional. The defense is still trying to find the key personnel packages that give us the advantage in certain situations. I think we have all the tools we need to make a deep playoff push."
The Irish have another bye week coming up next weekend then finish the regular season with a game in Fort McMurray against the Monarchs on July 23rd.
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