Can the Atlantic Provide Parity? (AUS Preview)

aus

The AUS is the smallest conference in the CIS and therefore is more likely to be the conference that can provide a new champion. For the last three years the Acadia Axemen have been the rulers of the East coast but they have not been that dominant team like the other three. With only four teams in the conference the AUS is an interesting conference full of possibilities to win. For years it has been a battle between the Saint Mary’s Huskies and the Acadia Axemen for the title of AUS champion. This would leave the StFX X-Men and Mount Allison Mounties sitting on the outside of the biggest show in the CIS. With a repeat on of their championship the Axemen are looking to win once again and keep their longtime rivals in Halifax out of the CIS playoffs. The Huskies are looking to be that team that can provide some parity in the CIS by taking out the Axemen and earning their own spot in the CIS playoffs. As these two teams concentrate on themselves and their own rivalry two other teams will look to shock everyone and make their own impact on the AUS. The X-Men and Mounties are teams that cannot seem to make any solid headway in the conference. Both have made the playoffs in recent years but once they seem to gain some traction the next year they fall off. Both teams will try to be the ones that can provide some parity in the conference as they hope to not only improve but win. The fact that the conference only has four teams means that there are any number of things that can happen. Instead of the east coast being dominated by one team there is plenty of room to grow as teams have a 1 in 4 shot of winning the Loney Bowl and taking home the Jewett Cup. All four teams will be trying to do it this as they all hope that this year will be theirs in the AUS. The top two teams will once again look to continue their domination of the conference while the X-Men and Mounties try to surprise everyone. It will be a season where a lot will stay the same or a lot will change as a new champion could be lurking in the AUS or the same champion could come out on top. As always only time will tell as the season is about to start and all four teams will have their shot at the AUS title.

 

Acadia Axemen

 acadia

The Acadia Axemen have always been a strong team in the AUS Conference but when people think of the AUS they think Saint Mary’s Huskies not the program from Wolfville. The Axemen are looking to end this thought as they go for their third straight Jewett Cup this year. It will be a true test in 2013 as some key pieces are gone but they hope to move on and continue their winning tradition. Evan Brown will take over from Kyle Graves and will have some big shoes to fill. He will have plenty of help as the Axemen will look to 2012 AUS Rookie of the Year Thomas Troop and 2011 leading rusher Zack Skibin in the backfield  while a deep cast of returning receivers will help Brown. On defence the Axemen will be returning a good group of returned but will look to the all-stars at each level for leadership. Defensive lineman Kirby Fletcher, linebacker Drew Morris, and defensive backs Brett Backman and Cam Wade will all be back this year and will look to provide some support for the offence. The Axemen are returning plenty of players from their 2012 championship team and they are hoping that the experience will overcome some key losses as they go for the three-peat. The Axemen are on the verge of becoming a great program and this year they could be on their way as they will likely win the conference and move in to the National stage once again.

 

Mount Allison Mounties

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The Mount Allison Mounties are a team on the rise as they seem to have finally found their stride in creating a winning program. 2012 was not the best example of this in terms of their record but how they got to 3-3 is a different story. They are looking for their second straight playoff appearance this year and with plenty of returning players they have a chance. The Mounties will look to running back Jordan Botel who was the leading rusher in the AUS last year. They will have to lean on Botel this year and will need to let him do what he does best if they hope to have a potent offence. Brandon Leyh is a good QB but he can be so much better if teams are focused on the run and not the pass. The defence will be returning 9 of their 12 starters this year as they will be going into the season with a veteran team. Mount Allison will look to defensive tackle Jacob Leblanc who has made the AUS All-Star team twice and was a member of Team Canada and Team World in IFAF competitions. He will have plenty of support with fellow AUS All-Star Defensive Back and returner Donovan Saunders coming back to help lead the team. The Mounties are trying to build some momentum from last year and they are hoping that they can return to the playoffs and that could happen as the Mounties are looking better every year.

Saint Mary’s Huskies

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The Saint Mary’s Huskies have been one of the two dominant teams in the AUS over the last few years. They have consistently battled with the Acadia Axemen to try to take first place and win the Jewett Trophy. The last three years the Huskies have been on the losing end of this battle though as they have finished second to the Acadia Axemen. The Huskies had a rough year last year when they would suffer three major injuries at the start of the season kicking off a 0-3 start to the season. They would save the season to make the playoffs and move to the Loney Bowl where they would lose to the Axemen in the finals. This year the Huskies will be hoping that the injuries are behind them and move on to try to beat the Axemen. The Huskies will be looking to their running game led by Melvin Abankwah and Mike Dawes to lead them into the Loney Bowl this year. On defence the Huskies will be looking to create turnovers to try to turn games around quickly. Led by defensive lineman Rob Jubenville and defensive back Kayin Marchand-Wright the defence will be a good one again this year. The Huskies are still one of the top teams as they earn some of the top talent in the AUS but they will have to avoid the pitfalls of last season. If they can stay healthy they will be in the mix once again and challenge the Axemen for the top spot.

StFX X-Men

 stfx

The St. Francis Xavier X-Men are unlike many of the other teams in the AUS as they are not improving. In fact the X-Men are going the opposite way as they would once challenge Acadia and Saint Mary’s and are now the worst team in the conference. Last year the X-Men looked to be on their way back but would finish 2-6 and out of the playoffs. They will enter 2013 with a lot of questions as they will need to improve on the worst defence and worst offence in the conference. The X-men will be looking to one bright spot from last year as AUS Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Brett Hubbeard will be back and hoping to lead the X-Men back to the playoffs. Hubbeard will be helped by a hopefully healthy Ron Omara but will also be looking at a young defence that hopes to improve with a year of experience from 2012. On offence there are plenty of players returning that could have a big impact on the conference. All-star receivers Jordan Catterall and Devon Bailey will be back to try to lead this offence out of the basement. The biggest issue is they need a leader under centre and have yet to find one in Clay Masikewich and Tivon Cook. The X-Men have a lot of questions this year but it may take too long as they will be buried under the improving teams and another year out of playoffs could be in sight.

Prediction:
1. Acadia Axemen
2. Saint Mary’s Huskies
3. Mount Allison Mounties
4. StFX X-Men

Jewett Cup:

acadia

Acadia Axemen
– The battle between the Axemen and the Huskies will be a season long struggle but the Mounties are not to be counted out as any could win the Jewett Trophy although the Axemen seem to be on a path that nobody can stop

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