HALIFAX, N.S. – The final results may not have been what first year head coach Peter Fraser would have hoped, but exhibition games are designed to offer coaches an opportunity to observe and make proper assessments.
The Mounties were edged 17-7 by the Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax during monsoon-like weather, but offensive coordinator Gaétan Richard said he and the staff saw plenty of potential and will be benefiting from the game film this week as they prepare the team for its first home game and opening of regular-season action in the Atlantic Universities Football Conference.
The Bishop’s Gaiters will be here on Saturday for a 3 p.m. matchup with the Mounties in what is expected to be a true indicator of how the hometown squad will perform this season. Last year the teams split victories – that being the lone win all season for Bishop’s.
The Mountie offensive line showed power and depth on Saturday and Sackville’s Dylan Estabrooks saw his first action since leading the Titans to victory two seasons ago. He fits in nicely, size-wise, with the line that averages 300 pounds a man.
Dylan Cormier also showed he is now ready to back up a rejigged defensive line as he teams up with all-star Damian Halstead.
Richard said Ross McCormack, a team captain and outstanding offensive tackle, has started the season on a high and appears ready to take his game to a new level.
Continuing with former Titans, Richard said Aidan O’Neal showed he is ready after missing his first season due to injuries. He pulled down one great catch and showed quickness for a big gain on the sweep.
So, Scott-O’Neal-trained players continue to make huge contributions at the next step.
The quarterbacking situation – at least who will be number one – has yet to be determined. Veteran backup Troy Downton has shown experience while Graeme Kelly has a powerful arm and can double as punter. Richard feels a decision should be made soon on the pecking order.
Last season, the Mounties finished out of the playoffs for the first time in years with a 4-4 record. Prior to that they had been in the Loney Bowl four straight times and marched to the national semis on two.
No question, the team is in a serious transitional mode this year. A new head coach brings new things that must be taught and absorbed, the team has been shocked by the departure of three key members for personal reasons and they have no established quarterback, a key component of any successful team. But there remains a positive approach and with their close loss in unbelievable conditions and Acadia’s 25-4 win over St. F.X., the stage is set for what could be a dog-eat-dog season.
So, remember this Saturday’s game with Bishop’s is set for three o’clock – not two as usual – don’t be late for the expected fireworks.