(Antigonish, NS) – StFX X-Men football head coach Gary Waterman, along with Mount Allison Mounties head coach Scott Brady and Guelph Gryphons head coach Kevin MacNeill are pleased to announce a unique U SPORTS exhibition football 'Summer Showdown' scheduled for August 19th in Antigonish, N.S.
The three teams will compete at StFX Oland Stadium in an exhibition event featuring six mini games over the course of the afternoon. The Summer Showdown begins at 12:00 pm and will see each squad play four mini games/quarters. It will be a showcase of U SPORTS football talent with three championship teams on the gridiron. Mount Allison were AUS champions in 2013 and 2014, followed by the X-Men in 2015 and 2016, while Guelph captured the OUA championship banner in 2015.
Two-time AUS Coach of the Year Gary Waterman is thrilled to be welcoming both the Gryphons and Mounties to the StFX campus for the Summer Showdown, commenting, "With all of the changes happening to the AUS football conference for the 2017 season and beyond, the welcoming of an out-of-conference opponent into our exhibition schedule is an exciting addition."
"The opportunity to once again take the field against the Mounties, our opponent in last year's Loney Bowl, is also a welcomed challenge. Now that we've added the additional component of one of the OUA's top teams into the mix, it just makes our exhibition game that much more special."
The first mini game of the afternoon has StFX playing against Guelph, followed by Mount Allison versus Guelph, then AUS rivals StFX and Mount Allison. Each team will have a chance to kick-off and receive in the opening three mini games, which will be 15 or 20 minutes in duration. As the scoreboard resets for each game, the next trio of mini games will again feature StFX vs Guelph, Mount Allison vs Guelph and StFX vs Mount Allison.
In other AUS exhibition play, the Saint Mary's Huskies will travel to Wolfville, N.S. to face the Acadia Axemen, also on August 19th. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:00 pm. The fifth and newest member of the AUS football conference, the Bishop's Gaiters, will not be competing in a pre-season exhibition game.
Mounties head coach Scott Brady is very excited for the opportunity to compete against two great teams in the pre-season, commenting "It will be a fun experience for our players to compete against a new opponent, as well as renew our rivalry with a great StFX team. Between our programs, we have won five conference championships in the past four seasons. I have always believed that playing the best possible competition will only improve our team and I am excited to watch three great programs go head-to-head this August."
Likewise, Gryphons head coach Kevin MacNeill states "We are extremely excited to be traveling to Antigonish to participate in this three-team exhibition showdown. With Mount Allison and StFX winning each of the last four AUS titles, we know that our players will be in for a tough challenge against some great opposition. This will be an outstanding test for our players as we build towards the 2017 regular season."
The Gryphons finished the 2016 campaign with a 3-5 record in sixth place in the 11-team OUA conference. They dropped a 17-11 decision to McMaster in the OUA quarter-finals.
Quarterback James Roberts (Cambridge, Ont.) who recently wrapped up his third season as the Gryphons pivot says, "The guys on our team are definitely excited about this pre-season trip. Not only do we get to face some great competition in StFX and Mount A, but we also have a unique opportunity to further bond as a team before the regular season kicks off. This trip isn't just about what happens on the field, it's about giving our team a chance to really learn what it takes to be successful away from home."
Third year Mounties linebacker Damian Halstead (Brampton, Ont.), an AUS defensive all-star, is excited for the opportunity to play in a non-conference exhibition game against Guelph and StFX, noting "It is exciting to compete against a team that we don't play every year and it is a great opportunity for us to compete against two of the best teams in the country."
The Mounties finished the 2016 season with a 3-5 record in second place behind the first place X-Men (7-1). After defeating Acadia 27-18 in the AUS semifinal, they fell 29-8 to the X-Men in the AUS Loney Bowl championship. The X-Men went on to compete in the U SPORTS national semifinal Mitchell Bowl in Calgary, dropping a 50-24 game to the Dinos.
Two-time AUS offensive all-star Jacob Czaja, a third year offensive lineman from Sudbury, Ont., echoes the thoughts of Roberts and Halstead, commenting, "It was very exciting news finding out that we are playing Guelph and Mount A in a three-team exhibition showdown. Over the years we have had some great battles with Mount A, and it is nice to finally be able to play an out-of-conference team in an exhibition game."
"This will be an awesome experience for our new players joining the team who don't really know the speed and intensity of university football. Also, it will be nice to see where we stack up with a competitive OUA team like Guelph."
Plans are underway for several community events for fans wanting to take in the Summer Showdown, and Coach Waterman states, "I think it will be a great day for our team, our program, and our fans. I'm looking forward to having a fresh new opponent to battle on the field, alongside a familiar rival. The unique format of the showdown should be an exciting thing to watch for all our supporters here in Antigonish, and should add some excitement to our pre-season matchup. I'm looking forward to the day, and I'm sure all our players are looking forward to it as well. It should be a great kick-off to the 2017 season."
Tickets for the Summer Showdown will go on sale in mid-July through the StFX Keating Centre box office and online at www.goxgo.ca/tickets.