Mounties coach keeping QB choice a secret heading into season opener

Jody Jewers
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SACKVILLE, N.B. - Kelly Jeffrey must be a poker player.
The Mount Allison Mounties head football coach is keeping his cards close to his chest heading into his team's Atlantic University Sport opener Saturday in Wolfville against the Acadia Axemen, particularly his biggest card of who will take over at quarterback from departed 2008 AUS MVP Kelly Hughes.
Jeffrey was expected to name his starter at practice last night, but only he and the three quarterbacks he has in camp will know who that is come game day.
"Our offence is very flexible," said Jeffrey, entering his second season at the helm. "Because of our quarterback's running ability, it became a quarterback-centered offence. But our offence is easily adjustable in terms of getting the ball to the people who can make plays."
The Mounties' biggest playmaker now becomes wide receiver/return specialist Gary Ross, a first-team all-Canadian in 2008 who is within striking distance of several AUS career records. Adam Molnar is another go-to receiver returning for another campaign. Matt Pickett is expected to be the featured running back.
Mount Allison's defence, which gave up 446 yards per game a year ago, will need to be better. Gone are AUS all-star Scott Sheffer and Andrew Blencowe from the front four, and first-team all-Canadian free safety Callen Exeter was an academic casualty. Ben Halpern and Akwasi Antwi are back to lead the linebacking corps, and the Mounties have four returnees in the secondary. Olivier Eddie is expected to handle the kicking duties once again.
The Mounties have a favourable schedule to start the season, with a home opener against St. Francis Xavier next weekend followed by an interlocking game at home against Quebec conference doormat McGill, blown out 66-14 by Montreal in its season-opener last week.
Then come three giant tests -- a home-and-home against AUS powerhouse Saint Mary's, followed by the Mounties' first matchup against reigning national champion Laval in Quebec. Laval routed Concordia, considered the second-best team in that conference in the preseason national rankings, 51-0 last week. Mount Allison finishes at home to Acadia, then on the road against St. F.X.
A 2-6 record was enough to give the Mounties a playoff berth a year ago. They'll need at least two wins if they are to get back in the hunt this season.
"We were on the road for the playoffs last year, so the next phase is to host a playoff game," said Jeffrey. "There seems to be a lot of parity in our conference this year, so we know it will be tougher. The primary goal is still to get into the playoffs, and let it all hang out from there."

jjewers@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport

Geographic location: Wolfville, Quebec, Montreal Saint Mary Acadia

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