Football Mounties looking to avoid winless season

Jody Jewers
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SACKVILLE, N.B. - The 2010 Atlantic University Sport football season starts Saturday for the Mount Allison Mounties.
At 0-7 and with no shot left at being a playoff team this year, Mounties head coach Kelly Jeffrey is turning his attention to next year when Mount Allison wraps up its schedule Friday night in Antigonish against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
"This is the first game of next year," said Jeffrey. "The key is that we keep building and continue to get better. We've still got a young team with a good core group, but we've got to get better, and that starts this week."
There could be a lot of unfamiliar faces on both sides, with the X-Men having clinched second spot in the conference and wanting to avoid injuries while looking ahead to a semifinal showdown next week against the Acadia Axemen.
"The goal is still to win the game," said Jeffrey, whose team will be trying to avoid its first 0-8 campaign since 2005. "I don't think you'll see massive changes."
There's also the matter of individual accomplishments. Mounties receiver-return specialist Gary Ross is making another strong case for the Hec Crighton nomination as the conference's most outstanding player, becoming the single-season AUS record-holder in receptions last week.
He needs 45 yards receiving Friday to surpass Acadia's Grant Davy for the AUS career mark of 2,470. Eight catches Friday will also put Ross past Davy's career AUS standard for receptions of 168.
Ross, who teams deliberately try to stay away from on punt and kickoff returns, would need a monster effort Friday to catch Acadia's Chuck Wust for the AUS career punt return yardage record. Wust is 250 yards ahead of Ross (1,918 to 1,668). Ross also sits 130 yards back of AUS career kickoff return yards record-holder Eric Nielsen of Acadia (1,533 to 1,403).
Quarterback Jake Hotchkiss could be in line for the AUS rookie of the year nod, and is expected to start Friday despite a Grade 2 separation of his throwing shoulder.
"Team goals always come first, but if we do what we do on offence, Gary will be a big part of that," said Jeffrey. "Jake will get as much time as he can handle."

Geographic location: Antigonish

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