Mountie quarterback Jakob Loucks hit on just 15 off his 30 passes in Saturday against the X-Men.
©PD LYNCH PHOTO
ANTIGONISH, N.S. – Is there somebody – anybody – out there who could provide a logical answer to what’s happening during the early topsy-turvy Atlantic Universities Football Conference (AUFC) season?
If there is, we at The Write Call would like to hear since there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the results we have seen to date.
Of course the first enigma is the manner in which the Mounties totally demolished the Acadia Axemen two weeks ago 64-23. And then one week later they sailed into Antigonish with high hopes only to be torpedoed by the St. Francis Xavier X-Men 37-0.
Then if that isn’t enough, we have the Axemen coming out after the thrashing of a week earlier to easily handle the Bishops Gaiters 27-10. Add to this the fact the St. Mary’s Huskies trounced St. F. X.38-23 in their opener.
So, early indications would point to a successful rebuilding job at the Halifax school as they have served as the doormats for the past several seasons.
Getting back to the X-Men and Mounties, they appear to have each shifted course 180 degrees – the Mounties south and the X-Men north.
It was obvious from the opening whistle that the coaching staff of the X-Men had put together an ideal game plan, and that the players executed it perfectly. They dominated all aspects of the game – offense, defense and special teams. The Mounties also had a game plan, but the players were unable to make it work and insufficient adjustments were made, resulting in the shocking outcome following such an illustrious performance in their season opener.
It must be remembered that the X-Men were dedicating this game as a memorial to former player Ashton Dickson who was shot and killed earlier this year. For four seasons he proved to be one of the outstanding running backs in the conference and it was clear that the players demonstrated passion as they gave it their all as a tribute to their former colleague.
Now coach Scott Brady and his assistants have a week off during which time they will attempt to remake the team into what it was on day one. The Bishops Gaiters, after a slow and shaky start on Sunday, picked up their game in the second half and showed strength in both their running and passing games. Perhaps it was a bit of weakness on defense that cost them the game.
Meanwhile, our Mounties were listless. Coach Brady said they all played hard but that is different from playing well. He said certain individuals like Makue Richards, Devante Sampson, Skyler Leblanc and the offensive line did well but it wasn’t enough to stem the tide.
The Mounties garnered a total of 313 yards of offense, just over half of what they did in their opening fixture. And quarterback Jakob Loucks hit on just 15 off his 30 passes in contrast to his 29 of 36 and 402 yards in the opener. However, his receivers failed to provide him with top quality support so there was plenty of blame to go around.
Chris Reid was a workhorse as he churned out 69 yards on nine carries, while the others were held in check. Richards had six receptions for 97 yards to lead in that division. Ryan Lambert did not have a great day as he averaged less than 30 yards a kick.
Defensively, Skyler LeBlanc paced the way with 10.5 tackles, Nathan Vakla had 8.5 and Sampson checked in with 7.5.
On the other side of the ball, the X quarterbacks clicked on 22 of 33 attempts, with Julian Grant the prime target with five receptions for 105 yards and a pair of majors.
The winners kicked their way to a nine-point bulge by the end of the first quarter, added a touchdown and another field goal in the second to lead 18-0 and the half. They doubled that in the final 30 minutes to hang a goose egg on the boys from Sackville.
The final statistics would not indicate a 37-point differential, but the winners were successful in exploiting vulnerable areas and put an easy win on the boards.
So what happens now? For the next 10 days the players will run schemes dozens of time so there will be no excuse if they don’t come to play against Guelph. The time is now to regroup and prove that their opening game was no fluke and Saturday’s sinking was “just one of those things” that happen now and then.
The Mounties will play the second half of a doubleheader on Friday evening, Sept. 15. The Titans will entertain the Moncton Purple Knights in the first half, with starting time set for 4 o’clock followed by their “big brothers” at 7:30.
Both teams are expecting an overflow crowd. The Titans are fighting to defend their provincial high school championships they have won in 2015 and 2016, while the Mounties will be regrouping for a shot at their fifth consecutive Loney Bowl appearance.