1979-80 Men’s Football Team

The 1979 football season at Acadia was highlighted by the appearance of John Huard as the Axemen’s Head Coach. A native of Maine, who had enjoyed tremendous success in North American pro football leagues, he was destined to become one of Canadian Intercollegiate football’s most highly-rated mentors.

Huard and his Axemen opened their home season with a 41-14 victory over St. Mary’s as Jed Palmacci’s running game drew the plaudits of the fans. Henry Sareault, Larry Priestnall, Mark Haley and Hubert Walsh were also strong offensively, while Bob Stracina, returning to the Acadia line-up following a season of ailments in 1978, collected seventeen points.

In a subsequent 77-6 win over Mt. Allison, Walsh with five touch downs, shared the limelight with PaImacci and quarterbacks Steve Repic and Mike Cosgrove.

In a 31-25 overtime loss to St. F .X. in Antigonish, Palmacci, Stracina, Sareault and Donnie Ross were the prominent Axemen.

Huard’s charges finished the Conference’s regular schedule with a 6-1 record.

In league playoff action against the always competitive St. F .X. squad, the Axemen silenced all would-be critics by posting a convincing 18-0 triumph.

In Atlantic Bowl action, the Axemen defeated the University of Alberta Golden Bears by a lopsided score of 27-3, thus allowing the Wolfville-based squad its third College Bowl appearance in four years.

The Huard-coached Atlantic Conference champs then travelled to Toronto to participate against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in the prestigious College Bowl. There, in front of some 19,000 fans, the Acadia club put on one of their finest performances of the season to defeat the Mustangs 34-12. This indeed was poetic justice for the Axemen who, in ’77 at the University of Toronto Varsity Stadium, had dropped a 48-15 verdict to the Western Ontario champs.

In winning their first-ever CIAU football title, three Axemen were signalled out for special praise. Wide receiver Don Ross captured the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game’s most valuable player, while quarterback Mike Cosgrove was voted the most valuable offensive player and Dave Bemis received recognition as the top defensive performer in the contest.

In a post-game interview, however, Coach Huard summed up his team’s performance best by saying: “I knew what I wanted to do when I came up here, and the players knew what they could do. We did it together.”

What an honor it is to welcome back to Acadia for induction to its Sports Hall of Fame, the coaches and players who brought to the University its first-ever CIAU football championship.