Mounties show some highlights in win over X-Men

Wallie Sears
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Left to right, Football Mounties Andrew Klain (#24) and Troy Downton (#9) stop St. FX’s Ashton Dickson during Saturday’s exhibition game on MacAuley Field. DOHERTY PHOTO

There were some highlights but for the most part Saturday’s pre-season exhibition game between the Mount Allison Mounties and the St. Francis Xavier X-Men was more than slightly boring. The reason for this was that more than 160 players got a taste of action on the natural grass of MacAuley Field and those without a program must have thought they were seeing double.

While the Mounties, defending Atlantic Universities Football Conference champions, came away with a 16-8 victory, they did little to deserve the decisive scoreboard result, but it nevertheless provided the coaching staff an opportunity to assess the individual talent of the players, especially the 38 newcomers who dot the lineup.

And there were some pleasing results, although coach Kelly Jeffrey said he expected his recruits to perform well. It appears he has found a place kicker in Jordon Camp, a newcomer from Burlington who should ease the load on Kyle McLean, who also punts and plays wideout. And it was another rookie, Isahosa York, a wide receiver from Bowmanville, who scored the lone touchdown of the game with a 90-yard punt return.

Several others showed flashes of form, including running backs Chris Reid and Kim Ambursley, along with a host of huge offensive linemen.

As is the case with early contests the Mountie pass defense was porous as the X-Men filled the air, completing 28 of 51 attempts. But the Mountie unit tightened when it counted and kept their opponents out of their end zone. The X-Men held the upper hand in most statistical categories but were stymied time after time in the red zone.

The visitors had 24 first downs to 15 for the Mounties and had 463 yards of offense to 285 for the winners so it was the scintillating punt return that won the game for the hometown. A trio of Mountie passers connected on 14 of 26 and had one interception and suffered a trio of sacks.

Sam Moreau, a long-time coach with the X-Men, said he would like to have won the battle but felt his fellow coaches learned a great deal and is hopeful they will be successful and build on a solid base.

The Mounties launch into games that count in the standings this Saturday when they host the Acadia Axemen, the team they knocked off last season to reach the Loney Bowl.

Commenting on this matchup Jeffrey said there would be a tremendous amount of work to do after he and his staff had an opportunity to review the videotape. They should observe many areas where improvements can be made, especially in protecting the quarterback and in defensive zone play. One of their key skill position players – corner Donovan Saunders – did not dress on Saturday but is expected to be fit for the league opener.

A long-time Mountie coach and now TV colourman with ATV said the Mounties should be slightly favoured entering the season due to their vast experience over the other three teams. Noting Brendon Leyh was the All Conference star last year, he said Acadia had recruited a high profile one from the US but that he has already gone down with an injury and so they are still attempting to sort out that problem. Saint Mary’s plan to go with Rosog who lost his last year while the X-men are working through several in an attempt to come up with a gem.

It’s expected the local collegians will show a far different approach for the remainder of the campaign, at least they know they can’t have a 1-4 record midway through the campaign and expect to stage heroics as they did during the final half of 2013.

Ambursley and Quinn Leblanc were the top ground gainers for the Mounties while another rookie, Morgan Humes, was the top receiver with 65 yards on a couple of catches. Key receivers like Mikele Joseph, Josh Blanchard and Troy Trentham saw limited action with the “lesser lights” doing much of the work.

On the other side of the ball it was Mark Sansom and Te Nguyen leading the way with five tackles apiece. Middle linebacker Ron Omara was the key for X-Men with seven unassisted stops.

This week’s match against the Axemen gets underway at 2 o’clock and a season pass for all regular games has been announced at a cost of $35, a 15 percent saving from the regular price.

Geographic location: Burlington, US, Saint Mary

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  • Linda Dugas
    September 05, 2014 - 23:22

    Happy that the regular season of the Mounties is about to start. Been looking forward to it. Glad that my favourite player #1 Donovan Saunders, my grandson, will be playing. Will be at the Homecoming Game as usual. See you all then.