Tackle football coming back to P.E.I.

There will be a 2020 tackle football season on Prince Edward Island, but it will look different due to COVID-19.

Players gearing up for a six-versus-six season

A new tackle football season will kick off on P.E.I. very soon. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

There will be a 2020 tackle football season on Prince Edward Island, but it will look different due to COVID-19.

Aaron MacIsaac, president of Football P.E.I., said registration for the upcoming season has already begun. He said a plan to return tackling to the sport was submitted to P.E.I's Chief Public Health Office.

"Everything is in motion; now we are just in the registration process," MacIsaac said.

Officials with the Chief Public Health Office confirmed to CBC News in an email late Wednesday that they are working with Football P.E.I. to make changes to rules governing tackling for September. Officials said "if all goes well," tackling will return to the sport in October.

he Island is just finishing up a flag football season and MacIsaac said the plan submitted to the CPHO followed the same guidelines.

People will be asked to sign in at some fields for contact tracing purposes. Only 22 people will be allowed on the sidelines from each team, including coaches and players — meaning fans won't be allowed to attend games.

"That gives us some room to make sure we have our referees in there to keep us under the 50-person limit," MacIsaac said.

Each team uses its own football, which will be sanitized during the game. MacIsaac said there will also be fewer players on the field this year.

Tackle football on the Island usually involves nine players per team, but this year all leagues will run a six-versus-six model.

'I just want to play'

The return of tackle is bringing at least one Island player home.

Seventeen-year-old Tyler Newson moved to Moncton, N.B., to play for a high school team there, but a rule kept him out of games for a year. Newson said that province also doesn't yet have the go-ahead for a tackle football season.

So now he is returning to the Island to play with the Cornwall Timberwolves.

Tyler Newson moved to New Brunswick to play football, but with no tackle season there because of COVID-19 he has moved home to play. (Tony Davis/CBC)

"Last week, whenever we figured out there would be six man here and tackle — I just heard 'tackle' and was instantly excited," Newson said.

"I just want to play some tackle football."

Newson will play quarterback and fill in other positions on the Timberwolves. He said his family is excited he's back on the Island playing.

"I can't wait to feel that first hit and get back into the game."

Unclear how many teams will play this year

The Timberwolves are hoping they will be able to play their first game in October.

"I'm excited," said Steve Letner, general manager with the team. "Kids were pretty excited, for sure."

Cornwall Timberwolves general manager Steve Letner says he is just as excited as the players to see tackle football back. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Letner said he is unsure how many teams will be in the league this year — typically there are four, but some areas are considering adding a second team to draw in more players.

Letner also coaches the Holland College football team. He said that while there won't be a season for the post-secondary institution this year, work is being done to put together a 2021 season.

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