Mounties taking it one game at a time

Jody Jewers
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SACKVILLE - Kelly Jeffrey doesnt have high expectations for his Mount Allison Mounties as the Atlantic University Sport football season opens.

SACKVILLE - Kelly Jeffrey doesnt have high expectations for his Mount Allison Mounties as the Atlantic University Sport football season opens.

Not that hes a pessimist his focus just isnt that broad.

Im very big on playing one game at a time, said Jeffrey, whose team visits the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Oland Stadium in Antigonish. Right now, Im concentrating on the first game and the first play.

Jeffrey is the latest in a growing line of Mounties head coaches this millennium, succeeding Steve LaLonde, who departed barely two months before the start of training camp. Jeffrey, an assistant to LaLonde the previous two seasons, will coach the team on an interim basis this year. He is the sixth head coach at Mount Allison in the last nine seasons.

Jeffrey says the continuity from last year has been maintained, with most of the rest of the coaching staff back and the majority of the players returning. Training camp numbers were down, however, with about 65 players reporting.

Ive been very fortunate, Jeffrey said. I have great assistant coaches and weve been able to keep just about everybody. Everythings set up in practice. I dont have to do much except sit in a lawn chair and scream.

The Mounties made the playoffs two years ago thanks to an outbreak of the Norwalk virus that forced the AUS to revamp its schedule and let everybody compete in the postseason. Their last legitimate playoff appearance was 1998. Mount Allisons record since then is 9-63.

The Mounties did show glimpses of greatness last season, thanks largely to the scrambling ability of quarterback Kelly Hughes and the brilliance of first-team all-Canadian receiver/return specialist Gary Ross. Theyll be counted upon heavily again, but there are question marks on who will protect Hughes, as the offensive line lost three starters. The defence gave up almost 480 yards per game in 2007, and the Mounties turned the ball over 34 times in eight games last year.

Well be smaller, Jeffrey said. But well be fast, so beating teams with our speed will be crucial for us.

The X-Men are a fashionable pick to challenge the reigning champion Saint Marys Huskies for top spot in the AUS. St. F.X. is bringing back most of the squad that lost 25-24 to Saint Marys in last years conference title game.

We might not match up well with them, Jeffrey said. Theyve got a lot of returnees, so well have to play a solid team game and limit the turnovers if were going to compete with them.



jjewers@amherstdaily.com



Organizations: Atlantic University Sport

Geographic location: Oland Stadium, Antigonish, Norwalk Saint Marys

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