Sunday, 30 October 2016

Fischer powers Hilltops to third straight PFC title

Veteran running back plays his best when the stakes get high

Logan Fischer (#21) powers his way downfield for the Hilltops.
    The bigger the game the better Logan Fischer plays.
    The Saskatoon Hilltops fourth year power running back always seems to have his best games, when the stakes get high for his team. Sunday’s Prairie Football Conference final at Saskatoon Minor Football Field provided another chance to Fischer to add to his big-game resume, and he didn’t disappoint.
    In an offensive shootout with the visiting Calgary Colts, Fischer scored the Hilltops last three touchdowns, piled up 137 yards rushing on 28 carries and 38 yards receiving on five catches to power his squad to a 43-31 victory. The win marked the third straight year the Hilltops, who improved to 10-1 overall, have won the PFC final and all of those victories have come against the Colts, who fell to 8-3 overall. Fischer had big outings in the two previous PFC title wins.
    While the Hilltops celebrated another conference title, Fischer was already eyeing up another lofty plateau. With the win over the Colts, Saskatoon advances to the Canadian Junior Football League’s championship game – the Canadian Bowl – for a third straight year and is looking for a third straight in that championship game.
Logan Fischer muscles his way in for a TD for the Hilltops.
    The Hilltops travel to Langford, B.C., which is a suburb of Victoria, on Nov. 12 to face the Westshore Rebels (10-1-1 overall) for the CJFL title. Saskatoon has had two other runs of winning three straight CJFL titles coming in 2001 to 2003 and 2010 to 2012. If the Hilltops can win in Langford, they will pull off a third three-peat in team history and become the first club to win six CJFL championships over a seven-year period.
    “This will be the third year in a row, so this is definitely exciting,” said Fischer. “It has happened in the past the three-peat. We have some standards to live up to.”
    Against the Colts, Fischer admitted the Hilltops came in with some sharper focus after one of the Colts players said some bulletin-board material to a Calgary media outlet regarding his side’s chances of having success on Sunday. The Colts won the only regular season encounter between the two sides 36-21 back on Aug. 28 in Saskatoon.
    Fischer said he usually goes into a big game with some nervous energy, but Sunday’s game was different.
Dylan Minshull powers his way downfield for the Colts.
    “There is usually a lot of nerves and butterflies going on,” said Fischer. “This game Calgary they went on the news and they opened their mouths, and I guess we just kind of reacted the best way we know how (and) that was just come out and play some football.”
    Even with the extra motivation, the Hilltops had to work to put away the pesky Colts. Any time the hosts surged out to a sizable lead, the visitors pushed back.
    Early in the third quarter, the Hilltops went ahead 22-4, when quarterback Jared Andreychuk hit rookie receiver Rylan Kleiter with a 13-yard scoring toss.
    The Colts cut the gap to 22-11, when quarterback Bailey Wasdal found Dylan Schrot on a seven-yard pass completion.
    With 1:30 to play in the third quarter, Fischer broke off a 25-yard touchdown run to push the Hilltops in front 29-11.
    Early in the fourth quarter, Wasdal hit running back Dylan Minshull on a 15-yard scoring toss to cut Saskatoon’s edge to 29-18.
    Saskatoon increased its edge to 36-18 one play after recovering a Wasdal fumble, when Andreychuk hit Fischer with a seven yard scoring toss.
Jared Andreychuk fires a pass downfield for the Hilltops.
    Minshull proceeded to run in scores from five and 13 yards out to trim the Hilltops lead to 36-31. The Colts failed on a two-point conversion attempt on the first of those two scores.
    With two minutes to play, Fischer muscled his way in from a yard out to put the Hilltops up 43-31. Saskatoon rookie defensive back Jared Giddings made an interception on the ensuing Calgary series to put any hopes of a comeback by the visitors into miracle territory.
    “I’m proud we get to live another week,” said Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. “We can coach this thing better, and we can play better.
    “Credit to Calgary and their coaching staff they kept coming back. We still have to iron out our own deal to make sure that we play better than what we did today.”
    Sargeant said it was huge that Fischer had another big outing for his club.
    “That is who he (Fischer) is,” said Sargeant. “He is one the best players in this league.
    “When you get to these games, him and Jared (Andreychuk) were our two best players. It is that simple. When those two guys are our two best players, it is pretty tough to beat us.”
Receiver Rylan Kleiter (#88) and the Hilltops celebrate their PFC title win.
    The Hilltops led 15-4 at halftime thanks to a punt single by Des Vessey, a 15-yard touchdown reception by Colin Stumborg from backup quarterback Jordan Walls on a fake field goal and a four-yard touchdown catch by Kleiter from Andreychuk.
    Kicker Stephen Fabian accounted for Calgary’s first half points on a 28-yard field goal and a rouge from a 36-yard missed field goal.
    Andreychuk connected on 15-of-23 passes for 154 yards and three touchdown passes for the Hilltops. Wasdal completed 27-of-37 passes for 300 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Colts.
    Minshull piled up 121 yards rushing on 18 carries and caught two passes for 30 yards for Calgary.
    In preparing for the Canadian Bowl, Sargeant just wants his coaches and players to keep finding ways to get better.
    “It is always about the process,” said Sargeant. “We keep moving forward.
    “We are going to play better, practice better and coach better. This team better come out and play better in two weeks that is all I ask.”

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