Nova Scotia

After blowout loss in 2017, Axemen look for better outcome in Uteck Bowl

The Acadia Axemen, the undefeated champions of Atlantic University Sport football, are preparing for Saturday afternoon's Uteck Bowl national semifinal against the Quebec-conference champion Montreal Carabins in Wolfville.

'We're excited to have a full week to practice and prepare,' says Acadia coach Jeff Cummins

The Acadia Axemen celebrate their AUS title win over the Bishop's Gaiters. (Peter Oleskevich)

Many Acadia Axemen veteran football players would like to heal a two-year-old wound this week.

The Axemen, the undefeated champions of Atlantic University Sport football, are preparing for Saturday afternoon's Uteck Bowl national semifinal against the Quebec-conference champion Montreal Carabins in Wolfville.

Acadia football fans will never forget the 2017 Uteck Bowl when the Axemen were blasted off their home turf at Raymond Field by the Western Ontario Mustangs 81-3.

"It was just something that happened and it was an odd situation that year," said Acadia head coach Jeff Cummins, the AUS coach of the year. "We're excited to have a full week to practice and prepare."

That situation was a player-eligibility case in 2017 involving a Saint Mary's Huskies player. When the dust settled in that matter, Acadia had only three days to recover and prepare for a dominant, well-rested Ontario team.

Acadia quarterback Hunter Guenard was named AUS most valuable player this season. (Peter Oleskevich)

Acadia dominated the Atlantic conference with an 8-0 regular season and a 31-1 win over the Bishop's Gaiters in last week's Loney Bowl.

But the Atlantic champion last won a national semifinal in 2007.

The Carabins are riding high after they beat perennial powerhouse Laval 25-10 last week.

"They actually beat Laval twice this year, including once on their field," said Cummins. "They are good right across the board. Their offensive and defensive lines are extremely athletic and gifted."

Acadia linebacker Bailey Feltmate closes in on a Bishop's player in last weeks Loney Bowl. (Peter Oleskevich)

Cummins will be leaning heavily on his veteran players if they want to have any chance of advancing to the Vanier Cup.

Fourth-year quarterback Hunter Guenard had an outstanding season and was named AUS MVP.

On defence, another fourth year veteran, linebacker Bailey Feltmate of Moncton, was named AUS defensive MVP.

Running back Dale Wright, the conference MVP two years ago, will also need to come up with a big game.

"We need them to go out and perform the way they are capable of performing," said Cummings. "In big games your top players have to be the guys you can lean on."

Dale Wright accepts the Jewett Trophy from AUS executive director Phil Currie following Acadia's win over Bishop's in the Loney Bowl. (Peter Oleskevich)
It's been 38 years since Acadia last won a national title in football.

In the 1981 Vanier Cup, quarterback Steve Repic was the MVP when the Axemen beat the Alberta Golden Bears 18-12.

Acadia also won the Vanier Cup in 1979.

But they have lost eight straight national semifinal games and are big underdogs to win against Montreal, even though the game will be played on Acadia's home field.

Calgary faces McMaster in the other national semifinal. The semifinal winners play for the national championship next weekend in Quebec City.

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