Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Hilltops to face rain, hotter temperatures in CJFL title game

Rams won’t be frozen out of Canadian Bowl

Caleb Haight gets a strip sack in last year’s Canadian Bowl.
    Saskatoon Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant knows the Langley Rams won’t be shocked by the elements this time around.
    For the second straight year, the Hilltops (11-0 overall) and the Rams (12-0 overall) will face each other in the CJFL championship game – the Canadian Bowl.
    A year ago in fridge conditions with a high of -7 C at Saskatoon Minor Football Field, the Hilltops hammered the Rams 58-21 to win an unprecedented fifth straight CJFL title game.
    When the two sides face each other on Saturday at McLeod Stadium in Langley, B.C., Environment Canada is predicting showers with a high of 11 C.
    This time around, Sargeant said the Rams should have a higher comfort level playing out of familiar surroundings.
    “Number one, we are going into their barn,” said Sargeant. “Last year, it was cold, so the conditions played to us.
    “I think this year the conditions are more conducive to what they’re comfortable with. Anytime you go into someone else’s environment, that gives them a bit of an advantage. We’ve been there a few other times.”
    The Hilltops will have practised in temperatures below freezing all week in Saskatoon before departing for The Canadian Bowl early Friday morning.
Keegan Dicks, left, catches a Hilltops TD in last year’s Canadian Bowl.
    Hilltops star middle linebacker Jadyn Pingue believes the only adjustment his side will have to make it getting used to playing at full speed again.
    “I feel like we’re going to come out there, and we’re going to be a lot faster,” said Pingue. “We’re practising on this field.
    “It is kind of icy, so we have to focus on being lower. When we get up there, we are looking forward to being able to be on the turf and being able to get our speed going. It is pretty much the exact opposite.
    “It is minus-10 here. It is supposed to be plus-10 there. I’m just looking forward to going to B.C. and playing a game.”
    Hilltops quarterback Tyler Hermann said the weather won’t have that much effect on the strategies used by his club’s side.
    “It (the weather) is significant in a sense,” said Hermann. “Our game plan doesn’t waiver too much.
Rams’ Nathan Murray (#34) in action in last year’s Canadian Bowl.
    “We’re going to be physical. We are going to be tough, and we’re going to mix in a little bit of deep ball and passing kind of stuff as well. That is pretty much what we are going for at the moment.
    “We’re just going to prepare in the cold for now I guess.”
    Besides meeting in the Canadian Bowl for the second straight year, the Hilltops and Rams will be going at it in the CJFL title game for the fourth time in eight years. 
    The Hilltops claimed the first two encounters, which were both played in Langley.
    In 2012, the Hilltops squeaked past the Rams 23-21. In 2014, the Hilltops posted a convincing 39-14 victory over the Rams, which started Saskatoon’s current run of winning the CJFL championship for five consecutive years.
    “None of my players on this team on this team have ever been out to Langley, so you know as coaches, we have to try and communicate and tell them about the environment and get them ready,” said Sargeant. “You look at the Langley Rams they are super athletic, they are very well coached and they love to make a lot of plays.”

“Sarge” appreciates well wishes from record 209th win

Tom Sargeant has 209 career wins as Hilltops head coach.
    Tom Sargeant didn’t expect numerous heartwarming messages would pour in after his latest milestone win.
    On Nov. 2 in London, Ont., Sargeant picked up his 209th career victory as the Saskatoon Hilltops head coach, when squad hammered the host Beefeaters 51-1 in a CJFL semifinal contest. The total put Sargeant one win ahead of retired Regina Rams head coach Frank McCrystal for the most in Canada’s amateur post-secondary football ranks.
    Sargeant has a 209-30-2 career record in CJFL regular season and post-season action since becoming the Hilltops head coach before the start of the 1998 campaign.
    McCrystal was the head coach of the Rams from 1984 to 2014, and they played 15 seasons in the CJFL and 16 campaigns in U Sports over that time as the University of Regina Rams. Over those 31 seasons, McCrystal compiled a 208-104-2 record as head coach in the regular season and post-season in both the CJFL and U Sports.
    After news spread about Sargeant’s latest milestone, the message of congratulations poured in.
    “There have been some very night gestures,” said Sargeant. “If you know me, I am a little embarrassed and humbled by it, because anything that I do as a coach, these are group accomplishments.
    “I can’t do anything alone without the support, the love of my family and then the loyalty and commitment of my coaches. Whatever comes my way I will take it, because I hope that everyone understands that it is filtering down to them too. I’ve had some extremely loyal coaches that are integral to any success that we have.”
    Sargeant has always said he isn’t a guy that keeps track of numbers. When he does achieve a milestone, he does worry that those around him might not get the credit they deserve as well.
    “Anything that comes my way, I hope I do a good enough job of spreading it,” said Sargeant. “A lot of times, I don’t do anything about it.
    “It doesn’t affect me. I just know I have to work harder the next day and get this team more better and more ready for the next task at hand. I’m certainly thankful for all of that.
    “As I said, it is a reflection of everyone around me way more so than me myself.”

Hilltops trio named CJFL defensive all-Canadians

Jadyn Pingue was named a CJFL all-Canadian all-star.
    Knowing the fact they will play for an unprecedented sixth straight CJFL championship, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Saskatoon Hilltops led the way in CJFL all-Canadian all-star selections on the defensive side of the ball.
    The CJFL announced its defensive all-Canadian all-stars on Wednesday, and the Hilltops had the most selections at three.
    Middle linebacker Jadyn Pingue was named an all-Canadian all-star after an outstanding campaign that saw him post 33.5 total tackles, one pass knockdown, one fumble recovery and one interception in seven regular season games.
    The fifth-year veteran was named the most outstanding defensive player and most outstanding linebacker for the Prairie Football Conference earlier in the post-season.
    Defensive tackle Jesse McNabb took home honours as an all-Canadian all-star for the second straight season. Playing out his final campaign of CJFL eligibility, McNabb posted 26.5 total tackles and three sacks appearing in all eight of the Hilltops regular season games.
    The CJFL showed major respect to Hilltops defensive back Colton Holmes naming him an all-Canadian all-star. Holmes played in only four of the Hilltops eight regular season games due to injury posting 17.5 total tackles, two pass knockdowns, one fumble recovery and one interception.
    Earlier in the post-season, Holmes was named the most outstanding defensive back for the PFC. He has yet to suit up for the Hilltops in the current post-season.
    Holmes attended the training camp of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and was on the team’s practice roster until rejoining the Hilltops.
    The Hilltops will face the Langley Rams in the CJFL championship game – the Canadian Bowl – on Saturday in Langley, B.C.

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