Thursday, August 21, 2008

CIS Countdown: #21 St. Francis Xavier X-Men

Fast facts: Almost the champion of the AUS last year, only a narrow 25-24 Loney Bowl loss to the Saint Mary's Huskies prevented a trip to the Uteck Bowl against Laval. Saint Mary's went on to the Vanier and St. FX's performance in the clutch was obviously a good sign. Went 3-5 like fellow playoff team Acadia, but got second seeding by virtue of their 2-0 season series lead and had home field advantage in the first round, for a total of three crushing victories over the Axemen. Only one team misses the playoffs in AUS.

Coach: John Bloomfield (5th season, 5th overall), who received a multi-year extension going into this year after operating on a one-year extension in 07. The school's caution was fueled by a 6-game losing streak that ended the 06 season, but the team's somewhat return to form and near-miss of the conference championship evidently fueled a new commitment to the coach. Before St. FX, Bloomfield was a highly successful high school coach with a 94-20 overall record, and offensive coordinator at Windsor.

Co-ordinators: John Darnell (Assistant HC), Gary Waterman (DC), Chris Bertoia (OL), Terry Chisholm (RB), Marvin McCooty (Graduate Assistant).

Undergraduate enrolment: 4,894

Alumni in the CFL: Calgary DB Richard Karikari & OL Derek Armstrong, Saskatchewan LB Mike McCullough, Hamilton DB Sean Manning.

Famous non-football alumni: Sportscasting legend Danny Gallivan, Nova Scotia Premiers Rodney MacDonald and Angus MacDonald, New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, Liberal legend Allan MacEachen, Trailer Park Boys star Mike Smith (Bubbles), Canada's Worst Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Three-year record: 10-14

2007 unit rankings: 21st offence, 21st defence

Key losses: None.

Players to watch: RB James Green is without question the offensive cornerstone and returns for his fourth year. Last year averaged 6 yards per carry and ranked second in conference rushing behind Jacques Lumbala. Starting QB Steve Snyder only threw for 140 yards per game and their leading receiver had 20 receptions and was a tight end, so look for some run-heavy play.

For future reference: Find the recruits here, your guess is as good as mine as to which are significant.

Schedule (swing games in bold):
Sep. 6 vs. Mount Allison
Sep. 13 @ Montreal
Sep. 20 vs. Acadia
Sep. 27 @ Mount Allison
Oct. 4 vs. Saint Mary's
Oct. 11 vs. McGill
Oct. 18 @ Acadia
Oct. 24 @ Saint Mary's

Final analysis: Being the only team lst to lose to Mount Allison (25-13 on the road) is an embarrassment that could be repeated, considering their home date against the Mounties last year was only a 6-point win too. Drawing McGill as a Quebec opponent is a big break, considering their Q adversaries last year were Laval (51-8 loss) and Sherbrooke (44-0). The safe bet is another showdown between the X-Men and Acadia for the right to play Saint Mary's. But remember, 75% of the teams make the playoffs, and the variation in Quebec schedules can open up a bevy of possibilities.

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