(HALIFAX, N.S.) – The StFX X-Men, winners of the past two conference titles, edged out the Mount Allison Mounties as the favorites to capture the 2017 Loney Bowl, according to the inaugural AUS football pre-season coaches’ poll released today.

This marks the first year for the AUS football pre-season coaches’ poll, which was voted on by the league’s five head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

The X-Men, chasing a third consecutive conference banner when league play kicks off Friday evening in Halifax, received three first-place votes and 13 total points in the poll. StFX has appeared in the last three AUS championship games, taking home banners in 2015 and 2016. The X-Men last missed the post-season in 2013.

The Mounties, who have participated in each of the last four Loney Bowls, including victories in 2013 and 2014, received one first-place vote from the coaches and a total of 12 points. Mount Allison hasn’t missed the playoffs since the 2011 season.

The Acadia Axemen and Saint Mary’s Huskies each tied for third spot with nine points apiece, with the Axemen total including one first place vote.

The Axemen, who have only missed the post-season once in 14 seasons under head coach Jeff Cummins (in 2008), will be looking to capture their first AUS championship title since 2012.

The Huskies, under second-year head coach James Colzie III, look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Saint Mary’s is the most recent AUS school to play in the Vanier Cup (2007) and the last Atlantic conference football team to win a national title (2001 and 2002).

The Bishop’s Gaiters, the newest addition to the AUS football conference received seven points in the voting. The team’s lone victory in 2016 was over Saint Mary’s in interlock play after a late fourth quarter charge to win by a single point in their homecoming game at Coulter Field.

Bishop’s has won five RSEQ conference championships, the last of which came in 1994. They last qualified for the RSEQ post-season in 2013 when they finished in second place with a 6-2 regular season record.

2017 AUS Football Pre-season Coaches’ Poll

(First-place votes in parentheses):

  1. StFX (3), 13 pts.
    2. Mount Allison (1), 12 pts.
    T3. Acadia (1), 9 pts.
    T3. Saint Mary’s, 9 pts.
    5. Bishop’s, 7 pts.

The 2017 regular season gets underway this weekend with a pair of games.

Fri. Aug. 25 – StFX at Saint Mary’s, 7 p.m.
Sat. Aug. 26 – Acadia at Mount Allison, 4 p.m.
Bye Week: Bishop’s