Moun­ties to see pre-sea­son ac­tion in three-team ‘jam­boree’

Mount Allison, St. FX, Guelph Gryphons to square off Aug. 19

Sackville Tribune - - OP-ED - Wal­lie Sears Write Call

Mount Allison Moun­tie foot­ball fans must be pre­pared for new and re­jigged sea­son which gets un­der­way in just a few sort weeks, with a five-team con­fer­ence as op­posed to just four and with some other changes.

And it is time to start look­ing for­ward to a some­what re­vamped lineup, not an un­usual oc­cur­rence at the univer­sity level, with play­ers lim­ited to five years of el­i­gi­bil­ity, which must be com­pleted within seven years of high school grad­u­a­tion.

The first and per­haps most omi­nous shift will see close to 100 burly ath­letes ar­riv­ing on the Sackville cam­pus no later than Aug. 10, with the first for­mal ap­pear­ance com­ing one day later. With their ar­rival, Sackville will come alive to the noise of shout­ing and leather meet­ing leather each day. For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son the train­ing camp will be staged on the new turf known as Alumni Fields. For diehard fans they may en­joy the best seats in the house in the spank­ing new grand­stand ad­ja­cent to the field.

And some­thing old is be­ing brought back. Many years ago the teams would gather at one lo­ca­tion and hold a form of jam­boree, with each play­ing ab­bre­vi­ated games dur­ing a one­day ses­sion. This was can­celled 30 or more years ago when train­ing camp time was short­ened but it al­lowed the coaches an Mount Allison head foot­ball coach Scott Brady – shown above in the cen­tre while help­ing coach dur­ing the an­nual Sackville Mi­nor Foot­ball and Tantra­mar Re­gional High School spring train­ing camp – will see his squad face off against the St. FX X-men and Guelph Gryphons in Antigo­nish on Aug. 19 dur­ing an event that will fea­ture six mini-games over the course of the af­ter­noon.

op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly as­sess the avail­able ta­lent in some live ac­tion.

Well, this year some­thing along those lines has been an­nounced, with the Guelph Gryphons join­ing the Moun­ties and X-men at the St. Fran­cis Xavier Field in Antigo­nish on Aug. 19.

All three head coaches have ex­pressed plea­sure over the de­ci­sion, even though many of the play­ers on each team will barely have had time to shake hands with the oth­ers.

Moun­tie boss Scott Brady says he finds the project ex­cit­ing and is ea­ger for the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete against two great teams in the pre-sea­son.

“It will be a fun ex­pe­ri­ence for our play­ers to com­pete against a

new op­po­nent as well as re­new our ri­valry with St. FX. Be­tween our pro­grams we have won five con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships in the past five sea­sons. I have al­ways be­lieved that play­ing the best pos­si­ble com­pe­ti­tion will only im­prove our team and I am ex­cited to with three great pro­grams go head-to-head in Au­gust.”

The event will fea­ture six mini games over the course of the af­ter­noon. The Sum­mer Show­down be­gins at noon and will see each squad play four mini games or quar­ters. It will be a show­case of univer­sity sports foot­ball ta­lent, with three cham­pi­onship teams on the grid­iron. The Moun­ties were AUS cham­pi­ons in 2013 and 2014, fol­lowed by the X-men in 2015 and

2016, while Guelph cap­tured the On­tario cham­pi­onship in 2015.

This will mark the first meet­ing be­tween the Moun­ties and Gryphons in 32 years.

The Gryphons wrested the Vanier Cup out of he hands of the Moun­ties in 1984 when they staged a late fi­nal-quar­ter drive, mov­ing from a 13-8 deficit to a 22-13 vic­tory in Var­sity Sta­dium in Toronto. The fol­low­ing sea­son, coach Steve Bruno took the Moun­ties to Guelph for a pre-sea­son matchup and came away with a 24-15 de­ci­sion. Thus, the two teams have each scored a to­tal of 37 points against each other.

Fol­low­ing this “jam­boree,” the At­lantic Con­fer­ence will kick off reg­u­lar sea­sons play the fol­low­ing week with the cham­pion X-men fac­ing the re­built St. Mary’s Huskies on Fri­day night, Aug. 25, in Hal­i­fax, with the Aca­dia Ax­e­men com­ing to Sackville the fol­low­ing day for a two o’clock meet­ing with the Moun­ties.

With the Bishop’s Gaitors join­ing the At­lantic Con­fer­ence this sea­son, it will mean each team will have two off week­ends as each has eight games to play. This is the rea­son for the ear­lier start, re­quir­ing 10 weeks to com­plete.

Early in­di­ca­tions might point to the Moun­ties again be­ing in the hunt de­spite the loss of sev­eral veterans, in­clud­ing Michael Bo­han, Kyle Hors­man and prob­a­bly re­ceiver Dakota Brush, who is cur­rently on the prac­tice squad of the BC Lions.

With a lot of long-term plan­ning the coaches will be able to call on a num­ber of play­ers who have earned a start­ing spot after two or three sea­sons of com­mit­ment to the pro­gram. They also pos­sess some gi­ant-sized line­men, a few an­telopes in the back­field and the na­tional rookie of the year at quar­ter­back. Not a great deal is known about Bish­ops, al­though in their last meet­ing in 2014 the Moun­ties han­dled them to the tune of 26-3.

So it seems Moun­tie fans should be­gin to pre­pare for many changes and not just a few sur­prises. An­other con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship would be ic­ing on the cake for the young coach­ing staff who have worked dili­gently to re­cruit and re­tain out­stand­ing stu­dent-ath­letes. Fate can be fickle so we sim­ply must wait for the out­come with trust that ev­ery­thing will work out well for the tiny school on the edge of the Tantra­mar Marsh.

SACKVILLE, N.B.

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