By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
STEPHEN Sears Jr got his first start of the season and his St Francis Xavier X-Men won an early matchup of undefeated teams in Atlantic University Sport Football.
The X-Men, currently ranked no.8 in Canada’s U Sports standings, improved to 4-0 with a 26-7 win over Mount Allison to hand the Mounties their first loss of the season last weekend.
Sears, in his debut season with the programme, got the start at left tackle to anchor an offensive line that gained 434 total yards. “I got the news the Monday before the game, they said that I would have an opportunity to compete for the starting spot and I secured it,” he said.
“I knew I was ready for the challenge so I had a strong mindset, and was not going to hang my head down if I messed a play up.”
The X-Men allowed just a single sack and X-Men Silas Fagnan passed for 309 yards and two touchdowns while Malcolm Bussy rushed for 80 yards.
“The first two drives of the third quarter stood out to me where we scored on passing touchdowns. The pass protection held up,” Sears said. “USports is a bit more fast-paced and physical. But it’s football at the end of the day. It was fun out there to be honest.”
Both drives concluded in deep touchdown passes to wide receiver Zachary Houde.
St FX head into a bye this weekend and will next see action on October 8 as they host Bishop’s for a 3pm tilt in Antigonish.
“The season is going great so far,” Sears said, “Our running game is solid and passing is coming along on offence.
Our defence has been holding it down.”
Sears is the latest collegiate football prospect to follow the pipeline from The Bahamas to playing the game at the highest level in Canada.
He committed to the X-Men of the Atlantic University Sport Conference following his standout tenure with the Holland College Hurricanes.
Sears was named the Hurricanes’ 2021 Offensive Lineman of the Year when the team announced its annual athletic awards in the postseason.
The business administration major was also named an Atlantic Football League All-Star offensive lineman after his second season with the programme.
He said the transition to competing at a higher level has been a welcome challenge thus far.
The X-Men are the reigning 2021 AUS football champions and have advanced to the national semifinal.
“It’s been great, a bit more fast-paced, a tough schedule football wise with more meetings and practices and as always learning a new system is a bit challenging.
“But I’m used to everything now and I love it,” he said.
“A lot of talented athletes on one team going at it in practice and games.”