Are you ready for some football?
The Mount Allison Mounties open their AUS regular season on Saturday against Acadia at 2 p.m.
© Daniel St. Louis photo
Jesse Myers (43), Mark Sampson (37), Jimmy Scheel (44) and another lineman of the Mount Allison Mounties wrap up a St. F.X Xavier ball carrier in exhibition AUS football action last weekend at MacAulay Field. Mount Allison opens its season at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. against the Acadia Axemen.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – As much as it’s tempting, Kelly Jeffrey is not looking for his Mount Allison Football Mounties to repeat last season. He wants his club to do better.
The defending Loney Bowl champions will open the AUS Football regular season at home on Saturday when they host the Acadia Axemen at MacAulay Field at 2 p.m.
“Our mantra has been to improve and to continually get better. When we walked to our team or when people talk about whether we will repeat, I say we don’t want to repeat,” Mounties’ head coach Kelly Jeffrey said. “We don’t want to start 1-4 and we don’t want to lose in the national semifinal. We’ve raised the bar in what improvement is. Now improvement is getting off to a better start and winning a national semifinal.”
While scoring a touchdown was a cause for celebration just a few years ago, the Mounties overcame a very sluggish start last season to win the AUS championship over Saint Mary’s before losing to the eventual Vanier Cup champion Laval in the Uteck Bowl at MacAulay Field last fall.
Many members of that squad are back this year, which is something Jeffrey said will help the club improve on last year’s showing and perhaps playing for the national championship – something Mount Allison hasn’t done in almost two decades.
“We have a very veteran team. Of the 24 starters, 22 are returning from last year,” Jeffrey said. “In terms of veteran experience it’s as good a spot as we’ve been in for many years. We’re excited about that and hopefully it will lead to a better start.”
Jeffrey said there’s a winning atmosphere at Mount Allison, but it’s not a complacent one because many members of this year’s squad were also here in the lean years when wins, and points, were far between.
The Mounties have a big hole to fill with the loss of Jordan Botel in the backfield. Jeffrey said the club won’t focus its running game on one players, but use several backs – although he said veteran Emmanual Masangu will get the opportunity to be the featured back.
Also returning is veteran quarterback Brandon Leyh, who was key in the Mounties’ turnaround last season, along with linebacker Te Nguyen, defensive backs Kwame Adjei and Donovan Saunders, defensive tackle Jacob LeBlanc and CFL draft pick Quinn Everett, who is moving from the defensive front to the offensive line.
Among the key recruits are defensive lineman Shaun Robinson, who played at Citadel High last season, and freshmen running backs Kiel Amburlsey and Chris Reid.
Jeffrey said special teams remain an important focus of the club’s attack with the goal being to create solid scoring opportunities from good field position by the returners. Another key, he said, is to win the giveaway-takeaway game.
“If you look at the past years when we’ve had success, the better we’ve been with the turnover margin the better success we’ve had on the field. Those were playoff years,” he said. “When we’ve been poor at that we’ve had very poor seasons. It’s probably the one stat the trumps everything else.”
Last Saturday, punt returner Idahosa Yorke scored the only touchdown as the Mounties defeated St. F.X. 16-8 in a game that was a battle of field goal kickers for the most part.
In other action from this weekend, the Men’s and Women’s Soccer Mounties are at Dalhousie on Saturday before coming home on Sunday to face St. F.X.
The women’s club plays at 1 p.m. and the men follow at 3:15 p.m.