LaLonde, by most accounts, was making some headway at Mount A. Three wins in the past two seasons (including a win over Bishop's in the interlock) is actually a fair leap from 2005, when the cupboard was so bare that the Mounties were outscored 379-23 on the season and got shut out five times in eight games. LaLonde had managed to attract a game-breaking QB and wide receiver, Kelly Hughes and Gary Ross, and his teams played exciting football regardless of the score (they actually scored only seven points less than Vanier Cup champion Manitoba did in the regular season; heck, they scored more points against Saint Mary's than the Bisons did vs. the eastern Huskies in the national championship game, although that's a very glib comparison that should not be taken seriously).
It's perfectly understandable to wonder about a coach who leaves that close to the start of the season, but the facts aren't in yet. (The New Brunswick papers, along with the Halifax Herald, should have more in the next couple days.)
The well-being of the football program at a small school in a community the size of Sackville, N.B., is very dependent on stable coaching (not that it isn't elsewhere, but Ottawa, Western or Saint Mary's faces much shorter odds when it has to find a head football coach). There's legitimate worry about what this might herald for Mount Allison. A guess is that they'd end up with an interim coach for this season. Long-term, the search for a permanent coach is tough, since the ambitious go-getter types who want to be a head coach somewhere-anywhere are often in their 30s and 40s and have to consider their wives' careers and the well-being of young families before they make a move. It's tricky when it's Sackville, N.B., as opposed to Hamilton or Halifax.
The players have apparently been informed by an e-mail, which was posted at the message board:
"On behalf of Jack Drover, Director of Physical Recreation and Athletics, I am writing to inform you that Steve LaLonde, head coach of the Football Mounties, has resigned from his position at Mount Allison. Steve, who is originally from the United States, has decided to return there for personal and professional reasons.Anyways, if you're interested, keep an eye on the newspaper websites from down East.
"Steve’s contributions to the Mount Allison Football program have been remarkably positive over the last three seasons and have positioned us for even greater success in the coming season. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours and want to thank him for his accomplishments and hard work on behalf of our Football and overall Athletics programs.
"We will be working to fill this position as soon as possible to prepare for the upcoming season. We have a great team and look forward to seeing you out at Mountie games."
LaLonde leaves Mount A (Monty Mosher, Halifax Herald)