The 2016 AUS football regular season has come to an exciting end. Now, the playoffs have arrived. The Acadia Axemen enter the AUS Semifinal off of a 10-3 victory over the Saint Mary’s Huskies. In Halifax, they saved their playoff hopes on the one-yard line. They move on to Sackville, New Brunswick to face the Mount Allison Mounties in the AUS Semifinal.
AUS Semifinal Preview: Acadia Axemen at Mount Allison Mounties
Neither the Axemen nor the Mounties enter the AUS Semifinal with winning records. As the Saint Francis Xavier X-Men remained undefeated against all AUS teams, the Mounties and Axemen struggled. Acadia remained at the bottom of the standings for much of the season. Mount Allison proved to be late bloomers, taking second spot from Saint Mary’s and locking into the playoffs in week seven.
Despite their shortcomings, each team has proven themselves strong in later weeks. Mount Allison improved to a 3-5 record, despite and 0-3 start to the season. The Axemen may have squeezed into the playoffs, but their performance against the X-Men in week seven shows their strength against the top team in the AUS. The semifinal will determine which team faces the X-Men in the 2016 Loney Bowl.
Keys to the Game
Defense — The Axemen and Mounties defensive teams are among the best in the AUS through 2016. Due to their proficiencies on this side of the football, expect a low scoring game. The Mounties are particularly adept at blocking field goals and punts, something Acadia knows all too well. The Axemen defence has also proven effective against the X-Men. If Acadia were to face the X-Men, their defence could give them the best shot at an upset victory. The X-Men’s 65-17 blowout against the Mounties in week eight does not bode well for Mount Allison’s chances.
Quarterbacks — The matchup sees Acadia’s Cody Cluett take on Mount Allison’s Jakob Loucks. Statistically, each quarterback has put up similar numbers. Cluett has thrown for 1225 yards, Loucks for 1325. Despite these similarities on paper, each player has a very different approach. Cluett has strong passing preferences in Eli Prochnau and Sabastian Robinson. He is also more likely to utilize the running game, particularly in the red zone. Cluett has also shown that he is willing and able to throw long for large gains. Loucks appears somewhat more methodical, but with more breakout performances. He is more likely than Cluett to rush when forced out of the pocket, and more likely to throw in the red zone. Cluett’s experience over Loucks could also prove to be a deciding factor.
Season Records — The Mounties hold a 2-0 record over the Axemen in the 2016 regular season. Mount Allison’s real breaking point of the season was their homecoming upset victory over the Axemen. From there, they improved to be bested only by the X-Men in the standings. However, Acadia’s improvements late in the regular season may see them put up a greater fight. With their strong defence and more calm and calculated offence, they may be the best chance to upset Saint Francis Xavier in the 2016 Loney Bowl.
The 2016 AUS Semifinal will take place on November 5 in Mount Allison’s Alumni Field at 2:00pm ADT.
Main photo courtesy of Acadia Sports Information.