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X-Men expect a battle every game for AUS supremacy

St. F.X. X-Men offensive lineman Gregor MacKellar loses his helmet in this battle with his Acadia opponent during an exhibition contest, Aug. 18, at Oland Stadium. Bryan Kennedy
St. F.X. X-Men offensive lineman Gregor MacKellar loses his helmet in this battle with his Acadia opponent during an exhibition contest, Aug. 18, at Oland Stadium. Bryan Kennedy - Contributed

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - The St. F.X. X-Men begin their 2018 Atlantic University Sports (AUS) football season on the road this Friday (Aug. 24) in Halifax, versus the St. Mary’s Huskies.

The X-Men open at home the following Friday (Aug. 31) with a 7 p.m. kick-off at Oland Stadium, versus defending AUS champions, the Acadia Axemen.

“We had a chance to see all the kids on film and what they could do,” head coach Gary Waterman said, referencing, in particular, a pre-season game the X-Men played versus the Axemen, Aug. 18, at Oland Stadium.

“It was good; they all got reps so we can evaluate them from the film.”

The game, played under a heavy downpour which affected both offences, ended 15-4 for Acadia.

Despite the score, Waterman said the coaching staff was pleased with what they were able to see during the contest.

“We feel like we got what we wanted out of the exhibition game and had a great training camp,” he said, noting he expects the X-Men to be good in all three phases of the game.

“We think we have a lot of experience at all three and our keys guys back in all three phases,” he said. “We expect to be very balanced in all of them, all year.”

The quarterback position is vital to any team’s success and Waterman noted, while a starter hadn’t been named at the time, he was pleased with the competition for the pivot position.

“We had four guys who came into camp and battled,” he said.

“The next day or so we’ll name a starter and then we’ll move on from there. We feel we’re getting close, we just have to evaluate the film a little bit more.”

And is it a matter of fitting an athlete into a system or developing a system around an athlete’s abilities? Waterman said both are true with the X-Men football program. 

“I think we start off with a base system we like but, at the end of the day, it’s about only doing what your kids can do,” he said.

“We’ll give them a base to see who can run that, but then, depending of whom we determine is where, we have the flexibility to make adjustments that fit into what their skill sets are.”

And team success will come with discipline and eliminating mistakes, the veteran coach said.

“You have to eliminate penalties - take few penalties - win the field position battle and turnover-takeaway battle; those are keys things,” he said.

“Those are three key areas for us towards success.”

And you can’t take any game off as Waterman predicts parity for the AUS.

“The league looks good,” he said. “The one thing with the AUS, it’s very competitive, with all the teams. Any given week, the games are close, and you have to prepare thoroughly for each opponent and make few mistakes.”

Other X-Men home-game dates include; Sept. 15 when the Bishop Gaiters will be in town (3 p.m. kick-off) and Sept. 29 and Oct. 27 with the Huskies and Mount Allison Mounties providing the competition, respectively.

Both of those games are 2 p.m. start times.

For more on the football team and other St. F.X. varsity sports, visit the website goxgo.ca.    

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