SACKVILLE, N.B. – The Mounties regularly send players to participate in the annual East-West Bowl and this time there will be two outstanding representatives playing roles in the annual event, which takes place in Quebec City on May 12 at the home of Laval University.
This event is a showcase for players to enter the CFL draft the following season.
The top 20 will be invited to regional or national combine camps where professional scouts will have a close-up view of the various talents each player has to offer as they prepare to make their drafts next spring.
The players making up the East team will be drawn from the AUS, the Quebec Conference and those from Carleton, Ottawa and Queens, while the West will feature players from Canada West and the remaining Ontario teams.
Coaches will gather their players together and hold four days of practices leading to the big game, which is expected to draw a sellout crowd of 16,000. An extra attraction for fans is the fact Laval has the majority of players in the lineup.
Representing Mount Allison will be two members of whom new head coach Peter Fraser has a lot of respect.
He believes that Malik Richards is the very best receiver in the AUS and is a true playmaker with great hands.
Damian Halstead proved last season to be a fearsome defensive player. Normally a middle linebacker, he was moved to end due to team injuries and proved adept at that position.
Offensive coordinator Gaétan Richard says Halstead has definitely earned the opportunity to showcase his skills after having done so much for the Mounties, easily moving from one position to another and showing well.
And Richard describes Richards as “a most talented and explosive” playmaker and says the challenge will be good for him as he goes up against the best the nation has to offer.
During the Mounties 4-4 finish last season, Richards, a junior from Brampton, Ont., was the second leading receiver in the AUS, closely trailing Archaelous Jack, the man in the eye of the eligibility storm. In seven games, he caught 37 passes for 608 yards and five touchdowns and is a threat to break out on each passing play.
Halstead, although being moved around from position to position, still managed to rack up 28.5 tackles, including 5.5 sacks.
The AUS will be represented by a total of nine players in the East-West game. In addition to the two Mounties, there will be two from each of St. Mary’s, St. F.X. and Acadia, while Bishop’s will send one receiver.
Over the years the Mounties have sent some outstanding players to this event – leaders like Nate Rostek and Kiel Ambursley – Chris Reid was invited but injuries kept him out – and earlier there were people like Dakota Brush, Andre Goguen, Devante Sampson, Jared Redding, Matt Rose, Quinn Everett, Brfendon Leyh, Mike Filer and Kwami Adjei.
From this group Brush and Filer have solidified positions in the CFL after having been drafted, Adjei and Everett had tryouts while the others continued to perform at a high level.
Richard is confident both Mounties will return with even greater desire to lead the team back into the Loney Bowl even during a transitional year that features the appointment of a brand new head coach and the loss of several key pieces, including quarterback Jakob Loucks, who earned national rookie-of-the-year honours in 2016.