Waterman ‘very happy’ with season
X-men capture third AUS football crown in four seasons
It may have ended with a lopsided loss, but the St. F.X. X-men football team has wrapped up another successful year, which included a third Atlantic University Sport (AUS) crown in four seasons.
“I was very happy with our season. I think, coming in, we probably weren’t the favourite to win the AUS,” head coach Gary Waterman said.
The Blue and White captured the Loney Bowl with a 33-9 road victory over the rival Saint Mary’s Huskies.
“It was a huge accomplishment,” he said.
One week later, in the national semifinal, the X-men dropped a 63-0 decision to the perennial powerhouse Laval Rouge et Or in the U Sports Uteck Bowl.
As part of fashioning a 6-2 record in the regular season, St. F.X. rode a three-game winning streak into the playoffs, before besting the Acadia Axemen 33-10 in the conference semi-final on home turf at Oland Stadium.
“We integrated a new quarterback and some other pieces, and we overcame some adversity with injuries early, and then the guys started to gel and really got on a roll near the end of the season,” Waterman said, in reflecting on the season’s successes.
“One of the things was the cohesiveness that we ended up developing. We came together as a team.
“When we had injuries or things happened earlier in the season, I think the players rallied – they had a ‘next man up’ mentality – and everyone came together for the new guy that came in,” he added.
Waterman described playing together as a “key strength for us.”
Another significant element, he noted, was the tremendous encouragement the program received from X-men fans.
“It is much appreciated – the great support we get from the community,” he said.
Along with the Loney Bowl, the X-men garnered a handful of individual honours, including an AUS outstanding player award [Chris Flynn Trophy] for fourth-year receiver Kaion Julien-grant.
The Toronto native led the conference with 638 receiving yards, on 49 receptions, while tying for tops in touchdown catches (five).
Grant, in four seasons, set an X-men record with 4,563 career all-purpose yards, which places him sixth in the AUS record book.
His 22 receiving touchdowns is a topfive achievement (fifth).
A two-time first-team All-canadian, in 2016 and 2017, Grant also earned AUS all-star nods as a receiver and kick returner.
Grant and third-year X-man Kieran Burnham – for place-kicking and punting – swept special teams’ all-star honours for the conference.
“He was tremendous this season. We would love to have him back in the fold for one more year,” Waterman said, noting Burnham has not made a decision on his varsity future.
Linemen Tyler Cordeiro (defensive tackle), Jonathan Zamora (centre) and
Jacob Czaja (guard) also garnered all-star spots.
The latter tandem, along with their offensive line mates, helped pave the way for another 1,000 year season from AUS all-star running back Jordan Socholotiuk.
Waterman, in his 10th season, won conference coach of the year (Larry Uteck Trophy) for the third time. Next season
Looking towards next season, the Xmen head coach said “we want to just keep adding depth.”
Noting the program is losing some “key veteran players,” including in the secondary, Waterman said “it starts with the line of scrimmage.”
“We want to be able to make sure that we continue to be competitive in that area,” he added.
“There are a number of areas that we want to address, but we do have some young guys waiting in the wings.”
Waterman talked about the growing interest in the X-men program.
“When you win your conference championship you definitely get a lot,” he said.
Waterman added the program already has two key commitments for next fall, along with several other players who have made campus visits.
“We feel really good about the start. Where we are, right now, we feel like we are ahead of where we have been in the last several years,” he noted of the recruiting process.
“Now, it is about continuing to build relationships – honing in on the guys that we think will be a great fit. We think there is a lot of interest in our program, so that’s a good sign.”
The St. F.X. X-men celebrating winning the 2018 Loney Bowl – the third Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championship in four seasons for the program.