In Sackville and all over the Maritimes, Mount Allison Mountie diehard fans are asking one question – which Mountie team will they see this Friday night playing under the lights against the Bishop’s Gaiters in their third outing of the year.
Will it be the one that played nearly flawlessly on offense in their season opener when they matched a 50-year high of 64 points in destroying the Acadia Axemen by 41 points?
Or will it be the one that showed ineptness in many aspects of the game in their second match as they were pummelled 37-0 by the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
Or will it be the team most folks expected to see this season – one that would be competitive in all games and not go from boiling hot to freezing cold?
Until this point it has been difficult to come to any definite conclusions. The squad that finished strongly to make the Loney Bowl playoffs last season is back pretty much intact with some fine looking young men having accepted the challenge to step up along with a solid cadre of rookies.
In creating what may be false hope in their opener the offense was deadly – the passing was crisp, the receivers had hands of glue and the offensive line provided Jakob Loucks with ideal perfection. Many fans left with stars in their eyes and dreams of a Vanier Cup challenge.
But while the offense was awesome, the defense was just so-so and the special teams left a great deal to be desired. One player who showed he has what it takes was corner Philip Thompson – he has been so solid that opposing quarterbacks are reluctant to throw to his side of the field.
Injuries have taken their toll on defense with Sackville’s starry Dylan Cormier out indefinitely with an upper body injury, while on the other side of the ball, Graham Kelly – 6’7” receiver is on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
But back To Bishop’s. The team defected from the tough Quebec conference of the Atlantic group after having recorded just one victory in the past two seasons. It was thought they might fare much better down here, but they have tasted defeat twice, first at the hands of Acadia and last weekend fell 40-21 to the surprising St. Mary’s Huskies. Meanwhile, the Axemen dumped St. F. X. to create even more questions.
The challenge this week for the Mounties will be to return to playing 60 minutes of solid football – in all three parts of the team. A victory would place them into the equation but another loss, especially to a winless team, could prove disastrous.
There is no doubt the Mounties have the talent to be a Loney Bowl participant. Can they regroup? That answer will come some time during the evening in two days as kickoff time is set for 7:30 at Alumni Field. They have had a week off to correct mistakes and for injuries to heal and the coaches have been working overtime, both on he field and in the video room so there should be no excuses for any repeat of the “Antigonish massacre”.
Actually, the game will be the feature of a double header – the first time such a promotion has been staged at Alumni Field and further evidence of the closeness of the Mounties and Titans. The two-time provincial champion Tantramar Titans will attempt to build on their first game, a 36-7 victory over Leo Hays, as they square off against the perennial tough Moncton High Purple Knights in a 4 o’clock startup. The local high school team upped their record to 20 consecutive victories over the past three seasons and are, hopefully, on a course to bring home their third consecutive provincial crown.
Mountie head coach Scott Brady said last week that his young men have been practicing “with a chip on their shoulders” – they know they didn’t play well and they want to bounce back.
It’s hoped the two matches will be played under fine weather conditions on Friday. Serious fans will have the opportunity of watching their two hometown teams go in the same direction – the Mounties recovering and the Titans continuing to soar.