Thursday, 23 August 2018

Hilltops’ Peters expands horizons at ’Riders camp

Cody Peters was the most outstanding linebacker in the PFC last season.
    Cody Peters will go outside of his comfort zone to prove he can play, even if it means he will take his lumps.
    The 22-year-old star linebacker for the Saskatoon Hilltops attended training camp with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders back in late May and early June. He earned the chance to be on the Roughriders practice roster, and he held that spot for about two weeks into the regular season before he fractured his ankle. He healed up in time to be ready for the Hilltops season.
    At Roughriders training camp, Peters saw action at every linebacker spot, and he played in the secondary at defensive halfback, cornerback and safety. The experience in the secondary proved to be eye opening, when Peters had to line up against the Roughriders veteran receivers.
    “It was a little overwhelming at first, because I have never played DB before in my life until that point,” said Peters, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 215 pounds. “I think the biggest issue for me was just trying to get the playbook down and learning all the plays for each position.
    “It was scary at times, because those guys are just so fast compared to this. That was also my first time playing DB, so it was a lot to take at once.”
    Overall, Peters enjoyed his time at Roughriders camp, which he attended alongside Hilltops star third-year defensive back Colton Holmes. Peters was opening to trying new things hoping that the Roughriders coaches would notice his willing to learn and see that approached everything with a good attitude.
Cody Peters in action at Roughriders training camp in May.
    “It was unreal for me to go up there and experience that and play with all those professional athletes and just get that opportunity to be out there,” said Peters, who has helped the Hilltops win the last four straight CJFL championships. “Those guys are just phenomenal athletes with just the stuff they can do out there.
    “I learned a few like new techniques and different ways to play and prep for the game.”
    With the experience he gained with the Roughriders, Peters’ confidence grew and he said he started to really believe that he could play in that circuit one day.
    “I would like to think so,” said Peters. “That is sort of the dream of what I am striving for.
    “You never know what could happen.”
    Now in his fifth and final season with the Hilltops, Peters is an established star in the Canadian Junior Football League. Last season, he recorded 30 tackles, 12 assisted tackles and one pass knockdown in eight regular season games. Thanks to those efforts, Peters was named the most outstanding linebacker in the Prairie Football Conference and a PFC all-star.
    Going into the current campaign, he cracked the CJFL’s top 50 to players to watch list at the seventh spot.
    “Cody number one he is a terrific kid,” said Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. “He has just every year got better and better. He works so hard.
    “(He has) a respectful demeanor, work ethic and he is a great teammate. Ultimately at the end of the day, forty-four gets in between the lines he makes a lot of plays. He was out best playmaker on defence on Saturday night.
Cody Peters (#44) charges out of the tunnel with the Hilltops.
    “He forced two fumbles. He is always around the ball. He is so with it, understands what is in front of him, and he can really accelerate and make plays. He is fun to watch and a great kid.”
    Peters had a standout game for the Hilltops last Saturday, when they downed the Thunder in Regina 41-7 in the CJFL regular season opener for both teams. The graduate of Saskatoon’s Bethlehem High School had five tackles and two assisted tackles to go along with his two forced fumbles.
    Sargeant said the fact Peters spent as much time as he did with the Roughriders brings more confidence and experience back to the Hilltops. Overall, the Hilltops legendary sideline boss was pleased how things went for both Peters and Holmes at Roughriders training camp.
    “Number one, we really respect the Saskatchewan Roughriders for allowing us the opportunity to send a few players,” said Sargeant. “This year, we sent two defensive players in Cody Peters and Colton Holmes. They represented.
    “They went out there and showed what Hilltop football is all about. I know they performed well. They both got injured during the process, which is unfortunate. 
    “It is my job to give opportunity. It is their job to kick a door down. I feel real good about what transpired, and hopefully, there will be more opportunity in the future for them at the pro level.”
Cody Peters (#44) aims to enjoy every moment of his final CJFL campaign.
    The Hilltops return to action this coming Saturday, when they host the Calgary Colts (0-1) at 7 p.m. at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. While the Hilltops had a good season opening win against the Thunder, Peters said his team can still improve.
    “There was a little rust to shake off in that first game,” said Peters. “We have some things we need to correct to come out playing a lot better in the next game.”
    As the campaign progresses, Peters is focused on savouring every experience from his final CJFL season.
    “Right now, I’m trying not to think too much about it,” said Peters. “I’m just trying to enjoy living in the moment right now.”
    NOTE - On Tuesday, Hilltops running back Ben Abrook was named the CJFL’s offensive player of the week for his efforts in the club’s win last Saturday against the Thunder. Abrook carried the ball 27 times for 171 yards, and he scored three touchdowns. 

“Doubles” is coming to Saskatoon

Darian Durant (#4) will speak at the Hilltops End Zone Dinner.
    Recently retired legendary Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant is on his way to “The Bridge City.”
    The 36-year-old former signal caller is slated to be the guest speaker at the Saskatoon Hilltops End Zone Dinner, which is set for Sept. 22, at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. The gates for the event open at 4:15 p.m. with dinner scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
    The event will include a pre-game address from Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. Following dinner, the Hilltops will face the Regina Thunder at 7 p.m. at SMF Field.
    Durant played for the Roughriders from 2006 to 2016 and guided them to a 45-23 Grey Cup victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Nov. 24, 2013 in the final CFL championship game ever played at Taylor Field in Regina. He was a reserve quarterback in the Roughriders Grey Cup win in 2007.
    With the Roughriders, Durant sits second in team history for career pass attempts (3,584), completions (2,226), yards (28,507) and touchdown passes (152).
    During his 12 seasons in the CFL, Durant completed 2,500 out of 4001 passes for 31,740 yards, 167 touchdown passes and 115 interceptions.
Darian Durant scores an overtime TD for the Roughriders in 2016.
    He played last season with the Montreal Alouettes and elected to retire from playing football this past May.
    The Hilltops End Zone Dinner tickets include a game ticket for that night’s clash with the Thunder. The End Zone Dinner tickets can be purchased by clicking right here.

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