Saturday, 7 November 2015

18th CJFL title win sweet for Hilltops

Austin Thorarinson lifts the Canadian Bowl for the Hilltops.
    The championship script couldn’t have been any more perfect for the Saskatoon Hilltops.
    The venerable Canadian Junior Football League franchise added another chapter and a couple of more milestones to an extremely storied franchise history in front of a large supportive home crowd at Saskatoon Minor Football Field on Saturday. The Hilltops (10-1 overall) downed the visiting Okanagan Sun (12-1 overall) 38-24 in the Canadian Bowl for an 18th CJFL title. Besides adding to their already record of league title wins, the Toppers also became the second club in CJFL history to claim five championships over a six year span matching the Regina Rams, who turned that trick from 1993 to 1998.
    “It means everything,” said Hilltops heart and soul defensive tackle Blake Adams. “It is the Hilltop way.
    “It is what we do. We play for these big games. To go out and win in your fifth year means a lot.”
    In a back and forth battle, the Sun held a 20-17 lead at halftime and expanded that edge to 21-17 with a third quarter rouge. With 3:46 to go in the third, Hilltops quarterback Jared Andreychuk found receiver Tyson Sawatzky on a long streak pattern that turned into a 73-yard touchdown pass to put the hosts up 24-21. The hook up came two plays after the Hilltops had a 75-yard passing major to Evan Kopchynski taken off the board due to an offside penalty.
    A short time later, Hilltops tailback Logan Fischer plunged in from five yards out for his second major of the game to put the home side up 31-21.
    Thomas Huber hit a 40-yard field goal for the Sun to cut the Hilltops edge to 31-24 early in the fourth quarter.
Blake Adams (#54) celebrates one of his two sacks for the Hilltops.
    With under two-and-a-half minutes to play, the Sun had the ball at their own one and had a 109-yard two-minute drill drive attempt to force a tie. The march moved to the Okanagan 33 before Saskatoon forced a turnover on downs.
    Andreychuk immediately found slotback Evan Turkington for a 33-yard touchdown strike that sealed the final outcome at 38-24. The score was Turkington’s second touchdown reception of the game.
    “Jared (Andreychuk) is a star,” said Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant during his classic energetic post-game press scrum. “He is a star in this league and doesn’t get any recognition. We are good with that, because all he does is win.
    “He got the ball to the right guys. Logan Fischer was a man possessed. Thirty-eight points, I will take that any day of the week.”
    Andreychuk completed 18 of 23 passes for 369 yards and three touchdown passes, while only being intercepted once. Sawatzky caught four passes for 132 yards to go with his long TD catch.
    Fischer broke the 100-yard barrier in both rushing and receiving to be named the game’s most outstanding offensive player. He carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards and caught seven passes for 107 yards.
    Saskatoon’s star defensive line was on fire as Adams had two sacks, while Matt Kozun and Blake Hermann had one-and-a-half sacks each.
    Sun quarterback Cam Bedore completed 25 of 43 passes for 350 yards and one touchdown pass. Kyle Kawamoto caught eight passes for 159 yard for the Sun, while Kyle Patchell hauled in nine passes for 110 yards and one touchdown for the visitors as well.
Jared Andreychuk fired lasers everywhere for the Hilltops.
    Okanagan linebacker Layne Hull was the contest’s most outstanding defensive player making a pair of tackles, an interception and blocking a punt and returning it 30 yards for a major right before halftime.
    “It was an intense game man alive,” said Sargeant. “Competition brings the best out of you, and they brought out the best in us today.”
    Andreychuk has thrown for over 300 yards in back-to-back Canadian Bowl wins for the Hilltops.
    They downed the Langley Rams in Langley, B.C., in last year’s CJFL title game 39-14. The Toppers also won the Canadian Bowl in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to round out their stretch of winning five times in six years.
    For the team’s star signal caller, he was pumped to pull off a Canadian Bowl win at home.
    “This week was rough thinking about the game,” said Andreychuk. “Come game time you get on this field, and it is a beautiful atmosphere.
    “For my family and friends, they don’t know what it is like, the Canadian Bowl atmosphere. It is just great to bring that here and get a win out of it.”

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