2014 CIS Football Team Preview: Acadia Axemen

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Source: Eric Cederberg, Acadia SportsInfo

2013 regular season record: 3-5
2013 regular season standings: 3rd AUS
2013 playoff record: 0-1
2013 playoff finish: Lost 19-10 to Mt. A

2013 was a disappointment for the Axemen who exited in the firstround of the playoffs in a semi-final loss to the eventual AUSchampion Mt. Allison Mounties, after posting a 3-5 regular seasonrecord.

The 2013 team was better than the record indicatedhaving been involved in five close losses.

The team enters 2014 full of optimism with a talented roster. Ondefence, CIS All-Canadian defensive lineman Jess St James, who ledthe country with 11 sacks along with CFL Hamilton TiCats draft pickMartin Pesek will lead the charge upfront, while All-Canadiandefensive back Brett Backman returns for his fifth and finalseason. Offensively, a talented backfield will include runningbacksThomas Troop – a third year all-star along with fifth yearsenior Zack Clarke. For the second year in a row, the Axemen willhave a new starting quarterback and he’ll have to acclimatehimself quickly to the level of competition at the Universitylevel. The good news is that the Axemen are better at all thepositions around the pivot positions including offensive line,receivers and runningbacks. Lastly, the CIS East/West All-Star gameMVP punter/kicker Ryan Begin returns to handle all special teamkicking duties this season.

Quote from head coach:

“We were frustrated with the outcome of last season andbelieve we were better than our final record in 2013. There are alot of reasons why we didn’t reach our goals, but dwelling onthe past only takes focus from 2014. We will focus forward only inthe coming weeks”

Head Coach:

– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2013):12
– Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2012): 12
– Career regular season record with team: 47 W-42 L
– Career regular season record in CIS: 47 W-42 L
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffsonly): 53 W 52 L

OFFENCE

Number of returning starters: 7

Key returning players: (five returning)

Key returners include Thomas Troop at tailback, Brian Jones andJordan Koch at receiver. All three can make big plays when theyhave the ball in their hands. Offensive linemen Chris Fanningand Kirby Fletcher (Argonauts draft pick) are ready to anchor the2014 herd.

Key recruits or transfers: (four returning)

At the pivot position, Javon Smith (6’2” 220 lbsMerced Jr. College, California) is an athletic quarterback with astrong arm. Jon Shaw (6’4” 215 lbs Bishops Universitytransfer out of Asbury College, in Ottawa), will add experience andalso compete through camp for the starting spot.

Jamahll Charles (6’3” 210 Franco Cite SS, Ottawa,ON), is a receiver with a very good pedigree. He has been astand out at Vanier College (CEGEP), for the past two seasons,Prior to that, Jamahll was named an All-Atar at the 2013 FootballCanada Cup. Brandon Smith (6’ 180 lbs CumberlandPanthers, Ottawa, ON), is an athletic receiver with big upside.

Key losses: (1)

The biggest loss is two-time all Canadian receiver Taylor Renaud(Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

DEFENCE

Number of returning starters: 7

Key returning players:
Brett Backman (Tantallon, NS), a All-Canadian defensivehalfback and special teams dynamo will return for his fifth yearalong with fast slick corners Suleiman Semalulu (Gatineau, QC), andHarland Hastings (Calgary, AB). Backman had four interceptions lastyear, including two that were brought back for majors.

Drew Morris (Ottawa, ON), a 2012 AUS All-Conference linebackerwill be looking to bounce back from an injury that cut short his2013 season. 2013 All-Canadian defensive end, Jesse St James(Montreal, QC), led the country in sacks, while CFL draft pickMartin Pesek (Toronto, ON), returns for his last year at thedefensive end position. Martin was second in the Nation insacks.

Key recruits or transfers: (5)

The “X” factor could be Brian Doyle at linebacker. Atransfer from the USA, Doyle had to sit out all last year and isextremely hungry to make a name for himself here atAcadia. Jesse Boudreau (6 ‘1” 210 lbsCharles P Allen HS, Bedford, NS), a standout for team NS and aProvincial All-Star and Evan Shergold (Toronto, ON), are bothexpected to turn heads in training camp. Aaron Bourdages(6’3” 225 lbs St. Basil HS, Sault Ste Marie, ON), andMatt Cook (6’4” 230 lbs St Pete’s HS, Ottawa,ON), are having huge seasons in summer play in the Ontario VarsityFootball League and will hope to continue their success atAcadia.

Key losses: (1)

The defensive back corp lose two-time All-Canadian Cam Wade anddefensive line standout Kirby Fletcher moves to the O-line to honehis skills for a promising CFL future.

SPECIALTEAMS

Key returning players: Ryan Begin (Ottawa, ON),will handle the kicking and punting duties in 2014. Comingoff an All-Conference selection in 2013 and stand out performanceat the East West All Star game, Ryan, is expected to continue hissuccess into 2014.

Key recruits or transfers: NA

Key losses: Scott Kelly, a senior receiver whotook on returning duties last season has graduated leaving an opencompetition for a new returner.

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