Backup QB looked good under live fire
|Ethan Watson (#5) calls signals for the Huskies on Friday night.|
The 19-year-old Calgary, Alta., product is the Huskies backup quarterback. He was a redshirt last season and is in his first year of eligibility this season.
If all went according to pre-season plans, he wasn’t expected to see the field much outside of entering games for mop up work. That changed last Friday night during a U Sports regular season game at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
Near the end of the third quarter with the Huskies holding a 26-9 lead on the University of Regina Rams, Huskies starting quarterback Mason Nyhus went down taking a hit on a delayed blitz. He banged his head on the turf, came back for one series and sat out the rest of the game as a precaution.
Nyhus was helping Watson and the Huskies coaches from the sideline, when Watson was at the controls.
Watson went in for what was in all reality his first live action that counted in the final outcome of a game. At that point in the contest, the Rams could potentially mount a comeback.
The Huskies utilized a more cautious play calling scheme for Watson, but gave way to allow him to make plays as the rest of the contest went on.
|Ethan Watson fires a pass downfield for the Huskies.|
Early in the fourth quarter, Watson guided an eight-play, 87-yard touchdown drive that ate 4:57 off the clock. He ended the march hitting running back Josh Ewanchyna on a six-yard swing pass that went for a touchdown.
That score gave the Huskies a 33-9 lead. They ultimately claimed the contest 44-9.
After the game, Huskies head coach Scott Flory was pleased with the production he got from Watson.
“I am really high on him (Watson),” said Flory. “He can run.
“He can use his legs. He can push the ball down the field. We obviously were controlling him at that point and all the throws and that kind of stuff.
“He is doing all the right things, and he has a really bright future.”
Going forward, Nyhus is still the Huskies unquestioned starter at quarterback. With that said, Watson showed well enough one wonders how good he might play going a full week taking the reps as the starter at practice.
Huskies starting running back Adam Machart said it was great to see Watson enter the game and do well on Friday.
“It is good for us,” said Machart. “It was good for Ethan (Watson) to get out there and get some reps.
|Ethan Watson is elusive on the ground.|
Huskies defensive back Nelson Lokombo, who return an interception 98 yards for a major after Watson’s touchdown pass, said it perked up the Huskies defence to see the offense was still moving with Watson at the controls.
“It is awesome knowing that you can count on other guys to come in if somebody goes down and produce,” said Lokombo.
At the moment, Nyhus is pegged to be the starter when the Huskies return to action this coming Saturday, when they travel to Edmonton, Alta., to face the University of Alberta Golden Bears in a battle of 2-1 teams.
If Watson has to enter that contest for meaningful minutes or even start, the Huskies will still be able to roll.
Superman pose draws the flag
|Jesse Kuntz hauls in a touchdown reception for the Huskies.|
Early in the second quarter of the U of Saskatchewan Huskies 44-9 romp over the U of Regina Rams last Friday at Mosaic Stadium, Kuntz hauled in a 14-yard touchdown reception in the west corner of the north end zone to put the Huskies up 16-3 at that point in the contest.
Back in 2013 at the Grey Cup held at Taylor Field, Saskatchewan Roughriders star receiver Geroy Simon made a diving 15-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter in almost an identical spot at that iconic facility to Kuntz’s grab last Friday. Simon’s touchdown sparked the Roughriders to a 45-23 romp over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
After Kuntz made his touchdown catch on Friday, he broke out Simon’s old “Superman pose” to celebrate the score. Kuntz did the celebration in a perfect spot for Huskies official team photographer Josh Schaefer to get a picture of that moment.
Schaefer got a number of gems in last Friday night’s game, and I am sure that was one of them.
The officials weren’t as impressed. A penalty flag was thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct.
With the clash between the Huskies and Rams being a rivalry game, the flag was likely the officials message to both teams they were going to crack down on acts like Kuntz’s celebration to prevent tensions from escalating.
Still, the celebration was something that was fun, and I myself wouldn’t mind seeing it again.
The awkward spy camera
|The Mosaic Stadium big screen camera loved Mason Nyhus.|
Nyhus, who is the starting quarterback for the U of Saskatchewan Huskies, went down late in the third quarter of his team’s 44-9 romp over the host U of Regina Rams. He bumped his head on the turf after taking a hit on a delayed blitz.
After the hit, the camera for the big screen at the stadium stayed on Nyhus as he came off the field and remained on him for a lengthy time when he was being looked at by the Huskies training staff. After the big screen cut to a play that was being run, the camera shot would be back to what was going on between Nyhus and the trainers.
This happened about two or three times. The Huskies players that didn’t dress decided to act as a screen for the camera.
Friday’s game was being shown on the television network run by SaskTel. It is likely the football on the big screen was dictated by the television broadcast.
Still, that whole situation felt really awkward, and it seemed to be trying to discover if the Huskies would do something wrong.
At game’s end, the Huskies tabbed the awkward camera as a non-issue.
“We’re focused, we are here to play our game, and that’s it,” said Huskies head coach Scott Flory. “It is every snap.
“We’re not getting into the extra-curricular and all that other stuff. We’re just playing a clean game and getting back to Huskie football.”
“Baby Shark Dance” burn song fail
|The Huskies celebrate a pick-six from Nelson Lokombo.|
When the visiting U of Saskatchewan Huskies were introduced for their rivalry clash with the U of Regina Rams, the “Baby Shark Dance” was played over the facility’s stereo system when the Huskies came on to the field.
The Huskies romped to a 44-9 victory. The biggest highlight came late in the fourth quarter when third-year defensive back Nelson Lokombo returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown to put the visitors up 41-9 at that point in the contest.
The Huskies defensive team celebrated the score running across the end zone making a shark fin motion with their hands on top of their helmets.
As far as the “Baby Shark Dance” song went, the Huskies defence got the last laugh.
“Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” song fail
|The Huskies love, TDs, wins and “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.”|
After the U of Saskatchewan Huskies thumped the U of Regina Rams 44-9 in a U Sports regular season football contest, the game staff decided to play The Guess Who’s “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.”
That move drew laughs from some of the Huskies players, who follow action in the Western Hockey League especially last season’s WHL playoffs.
Due to the fact the Saskatoon Blades lost an intense six game series to the eventual WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders, a number of the Huskies players know that “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” is played at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert every time the Raiders beat the Blades.
That tune is also played at the Art Hauser Centre on the hockey front every time the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos beat either the Saskatoon Blazers or the Saskatoon Contacts and when the female midget AAA Prince Albert Northern Bears beat the Saskatoon Stars.
After “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” was played at the U Sports contest last Friday at Mosaic Stadium, the Huskies players got a kick out of the move, because it was played after their side won in convincing fashion.
With all that noted, the crew at U of Regina Athletics will have a couple of chances to get that song burn right in another intense rivalry between the two schools namely the Huskies versus U of Regina Cougars rivalry in women’s hockey.
It is fairly well known that Cougars head coach Sarah (Howald) Hodges loves the Huskies women’s hockey team about as much as getting a root canal from a dentist without anaesthetic.
The Cougars host the Huskies on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. and again Friday, Feb. 7, 2019 at 7 p.m. at the Co-operators Centre.
You can already see someone on the U of R game staff all set to make that song selection for a game-clinching empty net goal and post-game after a win.
If they need any help on that front, they could always call in the services of Art Hauser Centre music man Dennis Ogrodnick.
For those on the university front that are unfamiliar with the story of “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” as it relates to the hockey rivalry between Saskatoon and Prince Albert, I wrote a piece on that last February that can be found right here.
For those that don’t know the song, it is used in a video put together by Chanda Ulmer that can be seen below.
Huskies gave greatest song burn in 1999
|The StarPhoenix sports front from Sept. 13, 1999.|
It occurred before the first ever U Sports regular season football meeting between the Huskies and the U of Regina Rams. The Rams had just moved to the U Sports ranks after spending 45 years in the Canadian Junior Football League from 1954 to 1998.
The Rams wrapped up their time in the CJFL ranks winning the league title in five out of six years from 1993 to 1995 and in 1997 and 1998.
The Huskies entered the 1999 campaign as the defending Vanier Cup champions and had also won the U Sports national title in 1996 and 1990. The two sides met on Sept. 11, 1999 in a highly anticipated encounter at Griffiths Stadium.
The Huskies entered that contest with a 1-0 record having downed the UBC Thunderbirds 28-20 at Griffiths. The Rams were 0-1 falling 37-28 to the U of Manitoba Bisons at Taylor Field in Regina. Both of those games were held on Sept. 4, 1999.
Leading up to the clash between the Huskies and the Rams, U of R defensive end Ciaran Gilmore told the incomparable Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post the Rams needed to play new music in their dressing room.
“We need to be tougher,” said Gilmore. “We listen to the Backstreet Boys in the locker room and everyone knows the words.
“I hate that! We need to work on our mental toughness.”
At the time, teams were introduced by individual player introductions either with the starting offence or defence. The Rams defence was announced with Gilmore leading the way.
When he entered the field, the game staff at Griffiths played “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys.
The Huskies spotted the Rams an early 11-0 lead. The Dogs then got going and rolled off 42 straight points and ultimately posted a 56-12 curb stomping.
How dominate were the Huskies in that first encounter?
They piled up 440 yards rushing as a team on 43 carries. The Rams had 244 yards of total offence in that game.
Due to how that contest played out, a song burn likely never worked out any better.
When “Barney from the bowling alley” stirred the pot
|Darrell Utley liked to take shots at the Regina Rams.|
In those days, the sports department of the StarPhoenix and the Regina Leader-Post had a lot more of their own distinct voices that were influenced and mirrored the views of their respective communities. Those voices weren’t streamlined similar ones often produced in the current day with both outlets being owned by Postmedia in Canada’s budget cut media era.
Utley indulged in stirring the pot in the rivalry between Saskatoon and Regina, and a couple of his favourite targets were the Rams and their legendary head coach Frank McCrystal.
When the Rams played the Huskies in their first regular season encounter on September 11, 1999, Utley wrote quite the humourous and biting column taking shots at the Rams.
In one paragraph, Utley wrote, “For the next few years the rivalry will likely play out this way: The Huskies will host the Rams once at Griffiths Stadium, the Rams will return the favour at Taylor Field and the Huskies will enjoy post-season playoff action in November and the season for the Rams will end and the defensive line will have lots of free time to study for their underwater soap-carving final.”
Another paragraph from Utley went, “McCrystal and his Rams have nothing to lose today (except the game) as his historic squad of Christians face a hungry pack of howling lions who are running out of pinkies for championship rings.”
Utley of course was making reference to a long standing perception that the Rams were a Catholic football coming from the fact McCrystal had a long career as a teacher in the Regina Catholic school system.
After the Huskies destroyed the Rams 56-12 in that first contest, the StarPhoenix sports staffers did take some shots at the Rams in their post-game stories that appeared in the Monday, September 13, 1999 edition of that paper.
One common refrain was it would take the Rams three to five years to do anything of substance at the university level.
The Rams proved that wrong by winning the Hardy Cup as Canada West champions and making the Vanier Cup in 2000 falling 42-39 to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Looking back, columns like the ones Utley wrote are a lost art, and it did create lots of interest in games. In today’s world, people are so thin skinned you would be hard pressed to find that type of writing anywhere.
It does give you a grin to look back and see what once was.
Flory pumps up his offensive line
|The Huskies starting offensive line has been great this season.|
Going into this season, Flory was asked how many yards would his current talented and tough running backs Adam Machart and Josh Ewanchyna pile up if he, Kevin Lefsrud and Kelly Bates were leading the way on the offensive line.
Flory, Lefsrud and Bates all had lengthy CFL careers and Flory made it to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as a player. The trio helped lead the way in the Huskies Vanier Cup championship in 1998 and Flory and Lefsrud keys on the Huskies Vanier Cup winner in 1996 as U Sports national champions.
That trio allowed running back Doug Rozon to become the Huskies all-time leading rusher piling up 4,086 yards in five seasons from 1995 to 1999.
With all of that said, Flory said he likes his current offensive line that includes standout starters in left tackle Noah Zerr, left guard Mattland Riley, centre Connor Berglof, right guard Tanner Secord and right tackle Nick Summach.
“Our O-line is better now than us old guys back then, I’ll tell you,” said Flory. “You look at our offensive line and the size and the speed and how these guys move, it makes our quarterbacks and running backs happy.”
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