Dinos set to host X-Men in U Sports Mitchell Bowl

Dinos set to host X-Men in U Sports Mitchell Bowl

Michel Belanger, U Sports Communications

TORONTO - There are just four teams remaining in the hunt for the Vanier Cup title – and for two of those teams, the road to Hamilton goes through McMahon Stadium.
 
The Canada West champion University of Calgary Dinos welcome the Atlantic champion St. Francis Xavier X-Men to McMahon for the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Mitchell Bowl this Saturday, Nov. 19 for the second of two national semifinals. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. local, live nationwide on Sportsnet 360.
 
Tickets for the Mitchell Bowl are available now! CLICK HERE to secure your seats to come cheer your Dinos on to the national championship! Tickets will also be available at the door on game day.
 
The Mitchell Bowl champion will face the winner of the Uteck Bowl, which sees Wilfrid Laurier visit Laval earlier Saturday, at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton in the 52nd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup next Saturday, Nov. 26.
 
Saturday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between StFX and Calgary.

ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY SPORT CHAMPIONS: St. Francis Xavier X-Men

While the X-Men were the only team to repeat as conference champion last weekend, winning back-to-back AUS banners for the first time since 1982 and 1983, the Dinos return to the national Final Four after dropping the previous two Canada West finals on home turf at McMahon Stadium, against Manitoba in 2014 and UBC last November.
 
To say StFX dominated in the Maritimes this fall would be a major understatement. The X-Men went 7-0 against AUS opponents in league play – winning all but one game by 15 points or more – before convincingly defeating Mount Allison 29-8 in the Loney Bowl. They led the Atlantic conference in most statistical categories, including points scored (37.4 per game), points allowed (16.1), as well as total yards on both offence (484.5) and defence (336.0). 
 
The only blemish on StFX's record is a 17-11 road loss against RSEQ rival Concordia in interlock play on Sept. 24. 
 
The X-Men heard all about it last year, before and after their 36-9 home loss to UBC in the Uteck Bowl. Since 2004, only one AUS team – Saint Mary's in 2007 – has advanced to the Vanier Cup, and the conference's last national title dates back to 2002.
 
Could this be the year the drought ends? StFX has the horses, there is no doubt about it. 
 
Starting with fifth-year quarterback Tivon Cook, who was named the conference MVP after he set or tied single-season school records for passing yards (2,537), touchdown passes (21), completions (174) and completion percentage (69.3), ranking in the top six nationally in all four categories.
 
Running back Jordan Socholotiuk was second in the country in rushing yards with 1,056 in eight league contests. Despite missing one conference game, receiver/returner Kaion Julien-Grant led the nation in all-purpose yards (1,558) and finished third in receiving yards (804). On defence, veteran defensive end Kyle Forde tied for second in U Sports with nine sacks.   
 
One person who definitely likes the X-Men's chances on Saturday is head coach Gary Waterman, in his eighth campaign at the helm.
 
"Winning the Loney Bowl for the second straight season, this time on our home turf, was a great accomplishment for the X-Men Football team," says the back-to-back AUS coach of the year. "We've had the same mantra all season, which is that the most important game of the year is the next one on the schedule. Even after clinching home field advantage with two weeks left to play, we focused on each contest individually, which ultimately led to a perfect in-conference record against some strong AUS opponents. 
 
"It happens to be that the next game on our schedule is now the Mitchell Bowl against a tough Calgary team, and we are going to continue preparing the way we have all season. We learned some hard lessons last year in the Uteck Bowl, and we will surely draw from that experience as we head out west for the game."

CANADA WEST CHAMPIONS: University of Calgary Dinos

Tough might actually be the perfect way to describe the 2016 Dinos. Resilient would be another.
 
As if losing countless key pieces following the 2015 campaign - including two-time Hec Crighton-winning quarterback Andrew Buckley, standout running back Mercer Timmis and record-setting kicker Johnny Mark – wasn't enough, Calgary has had to deal with a depleted roster for the past few weeks after being hit hard by injuries late in the season. 
 
Starting pivot Jimmy Underdahl has missed the last four games, including both Canada West playoff contests. The Dinos are also down to their third-string tailback on the preseason depth chart with injuries to both Quentin Chown and Bryce Harper. Receiver Austen Hartley, the team's leader with 110.2 yards per game – the third-best average in the nation – also missed the conference final.
 
Their absence has provided opportunities for the likes of rookie pivot Adam Sinagra, who is 3-1 as a starter and was voted MVP of the Hardy Cup after passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns against defending Vanier Cup champion UBC. Second-year running back Jeshrun Antwi also chipped in last weekend with 96 yards and a pair of majors on the ground. 
 
After being named U Sports coach of the year last November following his first season at the helm, Calgary bench boss Wayne Harris Jr. definitely proved his 2015 national award was well deserved. 
 
"We've faced adversity all year. How you handle that measures your character. I know the character of these guys – they're a hard-working group of guys that never, ever quits," says Harris, whose team has been involved in five games decided by six points or less so far this fall. "I'm extremely proud of this group – they've worked hard all season long to achieve this goal, and we still have goals in front of us we are trying to achieve."
 
One of those close games was of course the crazy 46-43 Hardy Cup win over UBC and former head coach Blake Nill, who a year ago ruined the Dinos' bid for a perfect season with a 34-26 upset victory in the Canada West championship match at McMahon Stadium. Last Saturday, Calgary held what looked like a comfortable 36-10 after 30 minutes but saw the T-Birds and star quarterback Michael O'Connor come back with 33 second-half points. 
 
"We have talked about that right from day one, before we started training camp, that nothing was going to come easy this year and we would have to fight for every point and every win that we get. We've talked about finishing every play and every game – we've gotten behind in games but they've stuck to it. Part of that is our conditioning and being able to execute going into the fourth quarter."
 
Despite the numerous challenges they faced this season, the Dinos managed to top Canada West in both points scored (36.8 per game) and allowed (20.9), while also leading the league in rushing offence (195.9 yards per game), fewest yards allowed (395.4) and rushing defence (107.4).
 
They now hope to improve to 5-1 all-time in Bowl games against AUS opponents and advance to the Vanier Cup for the first time since 2013.
 
"We're going to go through and break down film, try to get the best idea of who their guys are and their style of play - where we can create mismatches and what we can take advantage of," says Harris of his team's preparation for StFX. "It's a lot of film work for the coaches, getting a game plan into our players' hands, and letting them play fast. If we're able to do that, we have a better chance of succeeding."

ARCELORMITTAL DOFASCO MITCHELL BOWL

  
When: Saturday, Nov. 19, 2 p.m. MT (4 p.m. ET)
Where: McMahon Stadium, Calgary
Who: No. 10 St. Francis Xavier X-Men (8-1) at No. 6 Calgary Dinos (8-2)
TV: Sportsnet 360 & TVA Sports 2
Web: Sportsnet NOW & TVASports.ca (authenticated users only)

ST. FRANCIS XAVIER UNIVERSITY X-MEN (AUS champions)


2016 season summary 
Overall record (regular season & playoffs): 8-1
Regular season record: 7-1
Regular season standing: 1st      
Playoff record: 1-0
Top 10 final ranking (Nov. 1): No. 10 
Top 10 best ranking: No. 10 (2 weeks) 
Top 10 lowest ranking: Unranked (8 weeks)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (10 polls): 2
Regular season offence points (37.4 / game): 1st AUS / 5th U Sports 
Regular season offence total yards (484.5 / game): 1st AUS / 8th U Sports
Regular season offence passing (323.6 / game): 1st AUS / 5th U Sports
Regular season offence rushing (160.9 / game): 2nd AUS / 13th U Sports
Regular season defence points (16.1 / game): 1st AUS / 5th U Sports
Regular season defence total yards (336.0 / game): 1st AUS / 4th U Sports
Regular season defence passing (223.6 / game): 1st AUS / 5th U Sports
Regular season defence rushing (112.4 / game): 1st AUS / 7th U Sports
  
2016 AUS individual honours
Major awards: Tivon Cook (MVP), Vernon Sainvil (outstanding down lineman), Gary Waterman (coach of the year)
All-stars offence: Tivon Cook (QB), Jordan Socholotiuk (RB), Dejuan Martin (WR), Christian Ridley (IR), Kaion Julien-Grant (IR), Vernon Sainvil (T), Jacob Czaja (G)
All-stars defence: Kyle Forde (DE), Adam Kuntz (LB), Hayden Peters (DB), Paolo Lach-Edwards (CB)
All-stars special teams: Jonathan Heidebrecht (K), Keiran Burnham (P), Kaion Julien-Grant (RET)

All-time head-to-head vs. Calgary
Overall record: 0-0
Home record: 0-0
Away record: 0-0

Bowl history (since inception of national semi-finals in 1967)
Overall record: 1-4
Home record: 1-4
Away record: 0-0
  
2015 (home at Oland Field, Antigonish, N.S.): 36-9 loss vs. UBC (Uteck Bowl)
1996 (home at Huskies Stadium, Halifax): 13-5 win vs. Ottawa (Atlantic Bowl)
1982 (home at Huskies Stadium, Halifax): 54-1 loss vs. UBC (Atlantic Bowl)
1978 (home at Huskies Stadium, Halifax): 32-10 loss vs. Queen's (Atlantic Bowl)
1967 (home at Wanderers Grounds, Halifax): 7-0 loss vs. McMaster (Atlantic Bowl)

Vanier Cup history
All-time record: 1-1
  
1996 (SkyDome, Toronto): 31-12 loss vs. Saskatchewan  
1966 (Varsity Stadium, Toronto): 40-14 win vs. Waterloo Lutheran

Head coach: Gary Waterman
Season: 8th 
Career regular season record: 30-34 (.469)
Career playoff record: 5-4 (.556)
Career overall record (season & playoffs): 35-38 (.479) 
Career overall record vs. Calgary: 0-0 
Bowl record: 0-1
Bowl wins: None
Bowl losses: 2015
Vanier Cup record: 0-0
Vanier Cup wins: None
Vanier Cup losses: None
  
UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY DINOS (Canada West champions)

2016 season summary
Overall record (regular season & playoffs): 8-2
Regular season record: 6-2
Regular season standing: 2nd   
Playoff record: 2-0
Top 10 final ranking (Nov. 1): No. 6 
Top 10 best ranking: No. 2 (2 weeks) 
Top 10 lowest ranking: No. 7 (1 week)
Top 10 number of weeks ranked (10 polls): 10
Regular season offence points (36.8 / game): 1st CW / 7th U Sports
Regular season offence total yards (507.4 / game): 2nd CW / 5th U Sports
Regular season offence passing (311.5 / game): 4th CW / 6th U Sports
Regular season offence rushing (195.9 / game): 1st CW / 6th U Sports
Regular season defence points (20.9 / game): 1st CW / 9th U Sports
Regular season defence total yards (395.4 / game): 1st CW / 12th U Sports
Regular season defence passing (288.0 / game): 2nd CW / 17th U Sports
Regular season defence rushing (107.4 / game): 1st CW / 6th U Sports

2016 Canada West individual honours
Major awards: None
All-stars offence: Austen Hartley (IR), Ryan Sceviour (G) 
All-stars defence: Jack McEwen (DT), Connor McGough (DE), Boston Rowe (LB), Robert Woodson (DB), Adam Laurensse (CB)
All-stars special teams: None

All-time head-to-head vs. StFX
Overall record: 0-0
Home record: 0-0
Away record: 0-0

Bowl history (since inception of national semi-finals in 1967)
Overall record: 8-6
Home record: 4-1
Away record: 4-5

2013 (home): 44-3 win vs. Western (Mitchell Bowl)
2012 (away): 45-6 loss vs. McMaster (Mitchell Bowl)
2011 (home): 41-10 loss vs. Laval (Mitchell Bowl)
2010 (home): 35-8 win vs. Saint Mary's (Mitchell Bowl)
2009 (away): 38-14 win vs. Saint Mary's (Uteck Bowl)
2008 (away): 59-10 loss vs. Laval (Uteck Bowl)
1995 (home): 37-7 win vs. Ottawa (Churchill Bowl)
1993 (away): 37-23 win vs. Saint Mary's (Atlantic Bowl)
1992 (away): 21-11 loss vs. Saint Mary's (Atlantic Bowl)
1988 (away): 34-15 win vs. Western (Central Bowl)
1985 (home): 56-14 win vs. Carleton (Western Bowl)
1984 (away): 12-7 loss vs. Guelph (Central Bowl)
1977 (away): 24-22 loss vs. Western (Forest City Bowl)
1975 (away): 38-13 win vs. Acadia (Atlantic Bowl)

Vanier Cup history
All-time record: 4-5

2013 (TELUS-UL Stadium, Quebec City): 25-14 loss vs. Laval
2010 (PEPS Stadium, Quebec City): 29-2 loss vs. Laval
2009 (PEPS Stadium, Quebec City): 33-31 loss vs. Queen's
1995 (SkyDome, Toronto): 54-24 win vs. Western
1993 (SkyDome, Toronto): 37-34 loss vs. Toronto
1988 (Varsity Stadium, Toronto): 52-23 win vs. Saint Mary's
1985 (Varsity Stadium, Toronto): 25-6 win vs. Western 
1983 (Varsity Stadium, Toronto): 31-21 win vs. Queen's
1975 (CNE Stadium, Toronto): 14-9 loss vs. Ottawa

Head coach: Wayne Harris Jr.
Season: 2nd   
Career regular season record: 14-2 (.875) 
Career playoff record: 3-1 (.750)
Career overall record (season & playoffs): 17-3 (.850) 
Career overall record vs. StFX: 0-0 
Bowl record: 0-0
Bowl wins: None
Bowl losses: None
Vanier Cup record: 0-0
Vanier Cup wins: None
Vanier Cup losses: None