Horton graduate Adam Melanson is introduced to the crowd prior to the Acadia-Mount Allison football game Sept. 28 in Wolfville. Melanson, who played last season at Champlain College in Quebec, has earned himself a place in the starting lineup for the Axemen at defensive tackle. - John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca
By John DeCoste
There was a time you could count the Valley natives on the Acadia football Axemen on one hand - and have several fingers left over. A locally-developed starter? Well, that was a rare thing indeed.
In recent years, as football in the Valley has grown, there have been more locally-developed players on the Axemen radar, but they were still few and far between compared to other parts of the country, where football has a far longer tradition.
A couple of years ago, there was a lot of buzz surrounding Adam Melanson, an all-star Grade 12 player at nearby Horton High School, and his chances of maybe someday playing for Acadia.
Last year, Melanson, a defensive lineman with what appeared to be a host of future options, chose to attend Champlain College, a CEGEP school in Quebec.
After one season there, during which he shifted from defensive end (where he played in high school) to defensive tackle, he transferred to Acadia with the intention of suiting up for the Axemen.
Melanson, who is listed on the Acadia roster as 6’2” and 275 pounds, has achieved his pre-season goal of dressing for all of the Axemen games so far this season.
The past few games have also seen him in the starting lineup at defensive tackle.
“I had a great training camp, and I’m feeling pretty good,” Melanson, who grew up in North Alton, said. “My plan was to play one year in Quebec, then make my decision from there.”
His choice came down to “playing close to home or further away. I decided I’d rather have my family and friends come and watch me play. I’d missed that.”
His ultimate goal, he admits, “is to win Rookie of the Year.” To do that, he needed to not only dress, but also start – which so far, has been the case.
Melanson acknowledged there was a lot of competition at his position, and “a lot of veteran guys” on the defensive line.
“You’d always like to start, but I was prepared to take whatever happened, and help the team wherever I can.”
Just being able to wear an Acadia uniform, like both his father and uncle did back in the 1980s, “is pretty much a dream come true for me. I’m not sure it’s really hit me yet, but once I play a few more games, it’ll start to sink in.”
Melanson admitted he is “living the experience right now.” He added, “I’m looking forward to a lot of things happening this year.”
Axemen head coach Jeff Cummins said Melanson “is doing what we ask of him, and is playing well for a first-year player.” He added he is “not surprised” Melanson is starting, as Melanson “has a high football IQ.” He does well in the defensive tackle position, Cummins added.
“He’s not quite athletic enough to play defensive end at this level, but he has rounded into the right body type to play defensive tackle.”
“He’s in there because he deserves to be,” Cummins said. “He’s a hard worker. He will be a great player at Acadia for a long time.”