1977-1978 FOOTBALL AXEMEN

2016_1977footballThe Acadia football teams of the mid-to late-1970s were perennial national contenders and the 1977 squad was no exception. The team won a third straight conference championship and advanced to their second consecutive CIAU College Bowl championship.

Acadia opened the season with a convincing win over Mount Allison then dropped a close decision to St. F.X. in week two, bringing the pre-season skeptics out in full force.

Acadia rebounded with a win over Saint Mary’s, then shifted back into high gear with a lopsided victory over previously-undefeated UNB in Fredericton.

After blanking St. F.X. 28-0 in Wolfville, creating a three-way tie for top spot, the Axemen defeated UPEI 39-20 and Saint Mary’s 47-13 in their final two games to clinch first place in the regular season.

In the conference championship on Raymond Field, strong running by Hubert Walsh and Hugh Goodman and stout team defense led the Axemen to a 32-1 win over St. F.X.

Advancing to the Atlantic Bowl against Queen’s University, Acadia overcame a slow start with a strong second half to score a 35-22 victory.

Walsh, named the game’s offensive MVP with 212 yards on 27 carries, and quarterback Bob Cameron, who completed 20 of 32 passes for over 300 yards, were the offensive leaders.

Defensively, the many key performers included Ed Gataveckas, Greg MacFarlane, Kaz Wesierski, Chris Brewer, Tony Jabar and Pete Laszuk.

The come-from-behind Atlantic Bowl win was the high point of the Acadia season. For the second year in a row, the Axemen drew the Western Mustangs as their College Bowl opponent and ended up on the short end of a 48-15 score.

The disappointment of the final result aside, the individual and team honours collected by the Axemen told a more accurate story of how special the season had been.

First was Cameron, an all-conference and all-Canadian selection at both quarterback and punter and winner of the Hec Crighton Award as the national Player of the Year.

It was the second year in row and the third time in four years that an Acadia player had won the Crighton. Bob Stracina had captured it the previous year and Al Charuk in 1974-1975.

Eight Axemen – Cameron, Stracina, Fred Leavitt (the conference’s leading rusher), tight-end Drew Cooper and lineman Mark Moors on offense and lineman Brewer, linebacker Gataveckas and halfback Jabar on defense – were named all-conference.

Like Cameron, Stracina was selected an all-star at two positions, wide receiver and placekicker.

Stracina, Cameron, Moors and Gataveckas were all named to the Canadian team for the Can-Am Bowl against an all-star team from the U.S. scheduled for January 1978 in Tampa, Florida.  Axemen head coach Bob Vespasiani was selected as an assistant coach for that game.

Vespaziani and assistant coaches Dan Palov, Bill McLeod, Andy Currie, Kevin Carson and John Stevens all came in for their share of credit for what had been an outstanding season for the Axemen.

The Acadia Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the team category, the 1977-1978 football Axemen, conference champions and national-runners up for a second straight season.