Published by Times & Transcript - May 3, 2018
The Moncton Mustangs begin the Maritime Football League season with a showdown against their biggest rival.
The Mustangs open defence of their MFL championship by hosting the Saint John Wanderers on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Rocky Stone Memorial Field.
Moncton defeated Saint John 43-23 in the league final last year, winning its first MFL crown since 2010 and ending the Wanderers' run of four consecutive championships.
"We're really glad to be back on top," said Mustangs head coach Jason Terris.
"Moncton has great football players that get developed through the minor football and high school programs and we should be really competitive as a senior team. To get our team and our city back to where we believe it should be was huge."
The Wanderers' loss in the championship game snapped a 36-game winning streak.
"Any time we play Saint John, it's always an exciting game," said Terris. "We're expecting them to put up one of the biggest fights they've put up in a long time because of what happened last year."
The Mustangs return about 25 players from last year's title-winning squad.
The four-team league also features the Halifax Harbour Hawks and Island Mariners.
"We have a target on our back and we are going to have to put up a good fight," Terris said.
"Halifax has rebranded themselves and has a new management team and quarterback (Micah Brown) that has played professional football, so we're expecting Halifax to be a lot stronger this year.
"P.E.I. has a bigger roster, so we expect them to be more competitive and I'm sure Saint John is still reeling from losing, so we think every game is going to be even that much more competitive and we've got to be ready for it."
Moncton returns most of last year's offence, including quarterback Dan Comfort, running back Aubrey Ellis, receivers Leslie Greene and Chris Brown and offensive lineman Greg Kinsman.
Receiver Glodin Mulali is not back, but the team has added Leif Henrichs and Cameron Morley.
Big losses to the Mustangs defence include linebackers Steve Cormier and Justin Terris. Among the returnees are defensive back Bobby McIntyre, defensive lineman Alec Pellerin and linebackers Zach Theriault and Verlandy Joseph.
Newcomers include defensive back Caleb Reynolds and safety Dru Guimond while defensive lineman Ben Dunston and linebacker Derek Bourgeois have returned to the club.
"We're confident, but we're being careful not to be cocky. We know we've added some good pieces and we're very happy to continue with most of the roster we had last year," Terris said.
"But we want to make sure that we're ready for any battle that comes up."