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Sackville's football Mounties to see pre-season action in three-team ‘jamboree’

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


Published on June 26, 2017

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.

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SACKVILLE, N.B. – 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 one-day session. This was cancelled 30 or more years ago when training camp time was shortened but it allowed the coaches an 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.

I have always believed that playing the best possible competition will only improve our team and I am excited to see three great programs go head-to-head in August.

Scott Brady

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 see 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 2 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 B.C. 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.