Sunday, 17 September 2017

Hilltops defence crushes Colts

Tom Schnitzler and the Hilltops defence had a big day Sunday in Calgary.
    The Saskatoon Hilltops defence proved to be too much for the Calgary Colts to handle.
    On Sunday at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, the Hilltops forced a number of turnovers resulting in 18 points, and they put Colts quarterback Bailey Wasdal under pressure all afternoon. When the dust settled, the Hilltops came away with a convincing 41-9 victory.
    The Canadian Junior Football League clash between the two sides was a tight one until the Hilltops pulled away after halftime. The points Saskatoon piled up off turnovers really changed the complexion of the contest.
    Early in the first quarter, the Hilltops built a 9-0 lead on a three-yard touchdown run from star running back Logan Fischer and forcing the Colts to concede a safety. Calgary cut the gap to 9-6, when Colts kicker Jaden Sheilan hit a 34-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter and 12 yard field goal at the start of the second quarter.
    At that point, Hilltops standout middle linebacker Cameron Schnitzler came up with an interception for the visitors thanks to pressure applied by Hilltops star defensive lineman Tom Schnitzler on Wasdal. Saskatoon’s offence quickly turned that turnover into points on the ensuing series, when quarterback Jordan Walls hit fifth-year receiver Ryan Turple with a 38-yard touchdown pass to put the visitors up 16-6.
    Sheilan hit a 44-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter to cut the Hilltops lead to 16-9 at halftime.
    The turnover parade continue in the second half. Early in the third quarter, Tom Schnitzler recovered a fumble from a Colts player on a punt return to set the Hilltops up on the Calgary 18 yard line. Saskatoon punched that gift quickly into the end zone, when Walls hit fourth-year receiver Jason Price on an eight-yard touchdown strike to put the visitors up 23-9.
Ryan Turple had a big TD catch for the Hilltops.
    The Toppers defence proceeded to recover another Colts fumble. The turnover resulted in the Hilltops going up 26-9 on a 16-yard field goal from safety-kicker James Vause.
    Tom Schnitzler then came up with an interception for the Toppers, and the visitors got a single from a 27-yard missed field goal from Vause to give Saskatoon a 27-9 lead entering the fourth quarter.
    Early in the fourth quarter, Walls hit fourth-year receiver Sam Mike with an eight-yard touchdown pass to surge ahead 34-9. Vause rounded out the rest of the scoring in the contest hitting field goals from 45 and 23 yards out. In between those two made field goals, Vause scored a single from and 18-yard missed field goal.
    Defensive lineman Riley Pickett wreaked havoc on the Colts passing game sacking Wasdal three times, while also being part of a gang that brought Wasdal down on another occasion. Defensive back Jared Giddings had a late fourth-quarter interception.
    The 18 points scored off turnovers was a welcome site for the Hilltops. The Topper are used to piling up points on takeaways, but failed to do just that on two takeaways in their previous outing, which was a 29-26 setback to the Regina Thunder on Sept. 9.
    With the win over the Colts, the Hilltops improve to 4-1 to sit in a tie for second place in the Prairie Football Conference with the 4-1 Thunder. The Hilltops and Thunder split their two head-to-head meeting, but Saskatoon holds the standings tiebreaker outscoring Regina 63-49 over those two contests.
    The Edmonton Huskies sit first in the PFC with a 5-0 mark.
    The Colts fall to 1-4 sit fifth in the PFC. After making the last three straight PFC championship games, the Colts are in big danger of missing the post-season all together in 2017.
    The Winnipeg Rifles sit fourth and hold the PFC’s final playoff berth with a 3-2 record with three weeks to play in the regular season. The Rifles hold the standings tiebreaker with the Colts taking the only schedule encounter between the two sides this season 42-22 back on Sept. 2 in Winnipeg.
    The Hilltops return to action this coming Sunday when they host the Rifles at 1 p.m. at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.

Rams’ Picton joins 8,000-yard club and other notes

Noah Picton has passed for over 8,000 yards in his Canada West career.
    University of Regina Rams star quarterback Noah Picton hit a big milestone in his team’s 28-18 victory over the U of Alberta Golden Bears on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium.
    Picton became the eighth quarterback in the history of the Canada West conference to surpass 8,000 yards passing for his career. The fourth-year signal caller completed 30-of-42 passes for 334 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Rams victory over the Golden Bears.
    With that performance in the books, Picton has 8,318 career yards passing to sit fifth in conference history. He trails Greg Vavra (8,401) who played for the U of Calgary Dinos, Billy Greene (8,626) who played for the U of British Columbia Thunderbirds, Darryl Leason (8,800) who played for the Dinos and Rams and Teale Orban (9,449) who played for the Rams.
    Picton has been on fire this season completing 78-of-114 passes for 969 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in leading the Rams to a 2-1 start.
    Cousin and receiver Mitchell Picton, who is a draft selection of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, hauled in seven passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. The fifth-year pass catcher has 19 career touchdown receptions to equal Jason Clermont for second on the Rams all-time career list during the team’s time in the U Sports ranks. Chad Goldie sits first on the Rams all-time career list during the team’s time in the U Sports ranks with 21 touchdown catches.
    The Golden Bears drop to 0-3 with the loss.
  • Regina Thunder quarterback Sawyer Buettner is establishing a reputation for mastering the end of the game two-minute drill drive. On Saturday night in Regina with the Thunder trailing the visiting Winnipeg Rifles 24-23 with under two minutes to play at Mosaic Stadium, Buettner drove the hosts 97 yards in 10 plays culminating in a seven-yard touchdown run by Victor St. Pierre-Laviolette with 34 seconds to play. The score gave the Thunder a 29-24 victory. Buettner finished the contest completing 25-of-42 passes for 382 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
  • The U of C Dinos are showing their 39-3 pre-season loss to the U of R Rams in Medicine Hat, Alta., meant nothing. The Dinos have jumped out to a 3-0 start in the regular season outscoring the opposition 177-69 looking like the NFL’s 2007 New England Patriots running rough shot through the Canada West Conference. On Saturday, the Dinos traveled to Winnipeg and crushed the host U of Manitoba Bisons 76-17. At the moment, it appears there won’t be a demise for the defending Canada West champs.
  • The UBC Thunderbirds re-established their status as a U Sports powerhouse dumping the visiting U of Saskatchewan Huskies 31-10 on Saturday night in Vancouver. After falling in Week 1 to the U of R Rams 36-20 in Regina, the Thunderbirds have continued to improve over the course of two straight wins in building a 2-1 record. Having won the Vanier Cup in 2015 and guided by head coach Blake Nill, the Thunderbirds might find themselves back in the Canada West final for a third straight year. UBC drew 9,542 spectators to their win over the Huskies.
  • The U of S Huskies are regrouping after dropping to 2-1 falling in convincing fashion to the Thunderbirds. UBC held a slim 10-7 edge at halftime before blowing the game open in the second half. The Thunderbirds piled up 684 yards of total offence. Injuries are piling up at linebacker for the Huskies, which is creating challenges on defence. The Huskies lost third-year linebacker Ben Whiting to an arm injury in their Week 2 win over the U of Alberta Golden Bears and fifth-year linebacker Justin Filteau was injured before the start of the regular season. It is also common knowledge in Saskatoon’s football community that Filteau’s injury is season ending. The injuries are forcing players like first-year linebacker Thomas Whiting to learn on the fly.
    Chloe Marshall in action during her midget AAA days in 2015.
  • On the hockey front, it appeared that Jasey Book and Jessica Vance were going to enter the season as goalies A and 1A for the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team. That was before Chloe Marshall entered the picture. Marshall, who is from Neilburg, Sask., transferred to the U of S after playing one season for Northland College in Ashland, Wis. In Saskatchewan hockey circles, Marshall was best remembered for playing two seasons with the Battlefords Sharks of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League from 2014-16, where she put up a career .914 save percentage. During her time with the Sharks, Marshall, as the old cliché goes, saw more rubber than a dead skunk on the Trans-Canada Highway due to the fact the midget AAA club wasn’t that strong. Marshall has won both her exhibition starts for the Huskies giving up just one goal, which includes a victory over the defending U Sports champion U of Alberta Pandas. It is conceivable she may emerge as the successor to the now graduated Cassidy Hendricks as the Huskies starting goaltender.
  • The WHL regular season begins on Friday with eight games across the circuit. In Saskatoon, the Blades open against the Swift Current Broncos at 7 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre. That contest will mark the first time the Blades hit the ice for a regular season contest with their classic Pac-Man jerseys as their regular look since 1994. Saskatoon was 4-2 during the pre-season.

Tweet of the day goes to Clermont

    The Tweet of the day has to go to former U of Regina Rams receiver Jason Clermont, who was a CFL star with the British Columbia Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders from 2002 to 2011.
    Upon hearing Mitchell Picton tied him for second all-time on the Rams career touchdown receptions list at 19 for the team’s time in the U Sports ranks, Clermont, who is the Rams vice-president of marketing, wrote this little piece below.

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