Thursday, 7 November 2019

Huskies aim to keep Hardy Cup away from Dinos

Mason Nyhus (#8) and the Huskies aim to get past the Dinos.
    While they still have the Hardy Cup in hand, long playoff runs are still a novelty for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team.
    They are a habit for the University of Calgary Dinos.
    Last year, these two teams battled for the Hardy Cup at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., to determine a champion for the Canada West Conference. The Huskies stormed to a 43-18 victory to claim their first conference title since 2006.
    On Saturday, these two teams will meet again at the same location on the U Sports playoff trail. The Huskies (6-3 overall) and Dinos (7-2 overall) will battle it out again for supremacy in the Canada West in this year’s Hardy Cup (2 p.m. Saskatchewan time, CJWW 600, SaskTel TV).
    The winner earns the opportunity to host a U Sports semifinal playoff contest in the Mitchell Bowl.
    On top of trying to bring the Hardy Cup back to Saskatoon for a second straight year, the Huskies are appearing in their second conference title game in the last 10 U Sports campaigns.
The Huskies will try to get to Dinos QB Adam Sinagra, left.
    The Dinos are appearing in the Hardy Cup for the 12th straight year and have captured the Hardy Cup eight times in their previous 11 visits. U of C will host the conference championship game for a 10th straight year.
    “They are a very good team,” said Huskies quarterback Mason Nyhus. “They always have been.
    “I’m sure they will be for years to come. We have our work cut out for us, but I am very excited for the opportunity.”
    The two sides met once this season, with the Huskies pulling out a 29-15 victory on Sept. 27 at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon. The Dinos are 5-0 this season at home in action during the regular season and post-season, while the Huskies are 1-3 on the road.
    Even though U of S won this same contest last year in Calgary, Huskies defensive back Nelson Lokombo said that doesn’t mean history will repeat itself in this year’s encounter.
Ben Whiting had 39.5 total tackles in the regular season for the Huskies.
    “I think it is better to prepare for this year’s Calgary team,” said Lokombo. “That is the best thing to do.
    “The past is done now. We have to focus on the future.”
    Nyhus completed 138-of-228 passes for 1,739 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions during the regular season for the Huskies.
    Jesse Kuntz and Sam Baker are the Huskies two biggest threats at receiver. Kuntz caught 29 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns in eight regular season games.
    Baker missed the Huskies first five regular season games due to injury. In the squad’s last three regular season games, Baker hauled in 15 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns.
    Star running back Adam Machart has a superb year carrying the ball 156 times for 1,330 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. He also hauled in 20 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
Deane Leonard led the Dinos with four interceptions in the regular season.
    His total of 1,330 yards rushing and 1,534 all-purpose yards are new Huskies team records for one season. Machart was the top rusher this season in U Sports.
    The Dinos are led by fifth-year star quarterback Adam Sinagra. During the regular season, Sinagra completed 159-of-256 passes for 2,014 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
    Sophomore receiver Jalen Philpot was the Dinos top pass catcher hauling in 52 passes for 767 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season.
    Robinson Rodrigues has taken over the starting duties at running back for the Dinos, and he carried the ball 54 times for 271 yards during the regular season.
    On defence, super rookie outside linebacker Ramsey Derbas led the Huskies with 43 total tackles in the regular season, while outside linebacker Ben Whiting had 39.5 total tackles.
Sam Baker has returned to top form with the Huskies.
    Defensive tackle Evan Machibroda and defensive end Nicholas Dheilly each had five sacks to top the Huskies in that department in the regular season, while Lokombo led U of S with four interceptions. Lokombo returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns.
    Middle linebacker Grant McDonald topped the Dinos with 40.5 tackles, and he also had 2.5 sacks and one interception in the regular season. Defensive tackle J-Min Pelley had 13 total tackles and equalled McDonald for the team high in regular season sacks at 2.5.
    Defensive back Deane Leonard led the Dinos with four interceptions during the regular season, and he returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns.
The Huskies need to celebrate a number of big plays to win the Hardy Cup.
    Huskies head coach Scott Flory said what happened in last year’s Hardy Cup won’t have an effect on this year’s game.
    “They have a whole bunch of different players, different staff,” said Flory. “They are a different football team.
    “They are going to be prepared. They are well coached.”
    Lokombo said his side just wants to get the game on.
    “This is what we’ve been working towards during the season, so it is always a good feeling knowing that it has paid off,” said Lokombo. “All the guys are super excited.
    “We really stressed that we wanted to do it for our guys, our fifth-years and just allowing ourselves to have an extra week to play football with each other. It is awesome.”

Huskies haul away five Canada West season awards

Adam Machart (#20) is the Canada West player of the year.
    The U of Saskatchewan Huskies football team piled up the individual major Canada West conference awards in a massive fashion.
    On Thursday, the Huskies claimed five out of the seven major awards handed out by the conference. That marked the most major individual conference awards the Huskies have won in any season in program history.
    Huskies star running back Adam Machart was named the player of the year for Canada West by unanimous selection after a sensational campaign. He carried the ball 156 times for 1,330 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. He also hauled in 20 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
    His total of 1,330 yards rushing and 1,534 all-purpose yards are new Huskies team records for one season. Machart led U Sports in rushing.
    Defensive tackle Evan Machibroda claimed honours as the conference’s most outstanding lineman. The fifth-year veteran piled up 22 total tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery during the regular season.
    Third-year defensive back Nelson Lokombo was named the conference’s most outstanding defensive player. Lokombo topped the Huskies with four interceptions, and he returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns.
    He posted 23.5 total tackles, 2.5 sacks and four pass breakups.
Scott Flory was named the Canada West coach of the year.
    Linebacker Ramsey Derbas took honours as the rookie of the year by unanimous selection for the conference. Derbas started the last seven of the Huskies eight regular season games and posted a team high 43 tackles to go along with an interception and a half sack.
    Huskies head coach Scott Flory was named the coach of the year for the Canada West Conference after guiding the team to a 5-3 regular season record for the second straight campaign. Flory is in his third season as the Huskies head coach.
    He guided the Huskies to a Canada West title last season and has the Huskies back in this year’s Canada West final. This year’s Canada West title game will see the Huskies face the U of Calgary Dinos on Saturday at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
    Fifth-year defensive lineman Derek Dufault from the University of Manitoba Bisons took home the student-athlete community service award for Canada West.
    Veteran U of Regina Rams defensive line coach Greg Nesbitt was named the Canada West nominee for the Gino Fracas Award as conference’s volunteer coach of the year. Nesbitt has been on the Rams staff for a lengthy stretch of time.

CTV vet creates Hilltops in video game form

    Matt Young might be best known as an on-air talent for CTV in Saskatoon, but what most don’t know is he is a video game guru and connoisseur.
    On Wednesday, Young put out a tweet to show he created the 21-time CJFL champion Saskatoon Hilltops on a PlayStation 4 game called “Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football 2019.” The game includes Canadian teams and allows for customization.
    Young put in the time on the customization feature to create the Hilltops with their current roster. The video Young posted sees the Hilltops taking on their provincial rivals the Regina Thunder.
    You see plays of Hilltops star power running back Ben Abrook running with the ball. You see quarterback Tyler Hermann hit receiver Dillan Heintz with a deep pass.
    Hermann also connects with receiver Connor Graham on a deep post route for a touchdown that is caught in the back of a 20-yard deep end zone.
    Hilltops kicker/receiver Rylan Kleiter nails a convert from the professional football spot at 32 yards out.
    Of course, you can’t go to your nearest video game story and purchase this game with the Hilltops already installed. If you want to put in the time that Young did into customizing a team, you can plays as the storied CJFL club in video game form.
    You can bet anyone associated with the Hilltops will get a kick out of this video.

A reset for the CJFL?

    One of the most interesting pieces that was written about the CJFL this week came from Blake Roberts, who was a long time executive on the circuit mainly with the Okanagan Sun of the British Columbia Football Conference.
    Roberts has been overseeing a podcast called Dieters CJFL Podcast and a blog under that same name. On Wednesday, Roberts put together a post entitled, “Time for the CJFL to press reset.”
    In the piece, Roberts makes a well thought out case for why the CJFL should move from being a 22-and-under league to a 20-and-under league. Part of the argument centres around creating more competitive games and positioning the CJFL as mainly a feeder league for the Canadian university football programs in U Sports.
    Roberts, when he was still the vice-president of the BCFC, made a presentation at the CJFL annual general meeting a year ago in Saskatoon on the merits of making an age change.
    I am just putting both things out there for readers to think about hopefully with an open mind. The link to Roberts piece from Wednesday can be found by clicking right here.
    The link to the paper of his presentation at the 2018 CJFL annual general meeting can be found by clicking right here.
    I will admit I am intrigued by the outside the box thinking, and I welcome it.
    Knowing how people in today’s world like to overact, I must note these are ideas that are put forward. The CJFL will not be changing its age rules tomorrow just because ideas are put forward.
    With how politics works generally in Canada’s amateur sports world, changes usually happen at a medium to slow pace.
    Both of Roberts’ pieces talk about working with U Sports in order to create a better development football system for Canada. My concern there is that if you do get the CJFL clubs to agree on an age change, I am not certain what type of motivation there would be on the U Sports side of things to work with the CJFL.
    When you deal with U Sports, you are not just dealing with the athletic departments at each school. You will ultimately deal with the academic institutions themselves.
    You can never predict where the politics of the academic institutions will take things, and it is possible an academic who is a university head will spin something in a direction to prevent any cooperation from happening.
    For now, Roberts put together a well thought out plan that he believes can make things better for the CJFL and football in Canada. Time will tell if these ideas do get any traction and become something more.
    Right now, this is likely something only the ultra-passionate CJFL followers will have taken a look at.

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