The Mounties host the St. Francis Xavier X-Men at 2 p.m. at Alumni Field in a rematch of last year’s Loney Bowl – won 14-12 by the X-Men.
It’s also a rematch of last weekend’s exhibition contest in which the X-Men rallied late to defeat the Mounties in Antigonish.
The Mounties have a new coach at the helm in Scott Brady and are coming off a 5-3 season. They placed first for the second consecutive year and enjoyed their third consecutive trip to the Loney Bowl.
“I’m really looking forward to this season. We have a great group of guys in our program who worked extremely hard all offseason,” Brady said in his club’s CIS preview. “We will have a lot of new faces stepping into some key roles on both offence and defence and we will have great competition at a number of positions.”
He said the club’s focus will be to the most physical in every game and to focus on improvement so they’re playing their best football in October and November.
Seven starters return on offence for the Mounties, who led the AUS in points per game last season. Key returnees include running backs Chris Reid and Kiel Ambursley as well as receiver Dakota Brush and lineman Andre Goguen.
Gone is quarterback Brandon Leyh.
New faces include quarterbacks Jakob Loucks from Cornwall, Ont. and Graham Kelly from Burlington, Ont. as well as receiver Ian Carty from Fredericton.
Five starters – including defensive lineman Donovan Glave and defensive backd Devante Sampson and Michael Bohan – are back while key performers Te Nguyen, Christian Plante and Kwame Adjei have not back.
New faces on defence include defensive linemen D’aiquin Wilmore and Tom Zarafonitis and defensive back Daniel Clarke.
Punter Kyle McLen will be missed while kicker Ryan Lambert is back along with returner Idahosa Yorke and Jess Myers.
Defensively, the Mounties led the country in yards per game and were among the best in points allowed, takeaways, run defence and sacks.