|Caleb Haight has been a great Hilltops ambassador on and off the field.|
Caleb is playing out his final campaign of CJFL eligibility with the Hilltops, and he has just two possible games remaining with the five-time defending CJFL champions.
On Saturday, the Hilltops (10-0 overall) travel to London, Ont., to face the London Beefeaters (8-2 overall) in a CJFL semifinal contest. The winner advances to the CJFL national championship game – the Canadian Bowl – to be played Nov. 16 at the winner of the British Columbia Football Conference championship game.
The BCFC title game will be held Saturday, when the Langley Rams (11-0 overall) face the Langford based Westshore Rebels (9-2 overall) in Langley.
Caleb has suited up at defensive end for the Hilltops since the beginning of the 2017 campaign. He followed his three older brothers to the club, who suited up for the Hilltops at different times from 2009 to 2014.
|Caleb Haight (#53) runs down a Huskies receiver.|
Jared played four seasons on the defensive line and Joel suited up for four campaigns as a defensive back.
“It has been a family tradition,” said Caleb. “To play for another team would certainly feel weird.
“You talk about being in the last few games, it is going to feel weird for my mom, because we have no more home games. That is the end of Haight’s playing at Gordie Howe Bowl (which is now Saskatoon Minor Football Field). Coming out of high school, it was really the only option.
“It was the only team I thought I wanted to play for. They wanted me, because I knew some coaches. It has been a good experience.”
Caleb Haight was a graduate of the Clavet School Cougars six-man high school football team in Clavet, Sask. After graduating from high school, he took a year off to travel and spent a following year rehabbing an injury.
Along with healing up an injury, Haight worked out and believes he came to the Hilltops physically stronger than he would have been right out of high school.
|Caleb Haight (#53) runs down an Edmonton Wildcats ball carrier.|
“That is a unique blessing that a lot of guys I guess don’t get.”
Helping the Hilltops win CJFL titles in each of the past two years, Haight said his time with the team has flown by.
“It is crazy,” said the 22-year-old. “I don’t know how long I have been playing organized football.
“I think (Hilltops defensive coordinator) Jeff Yausie coached me when I was probably eight or nine. I’ve thrown the ball with my brothers as soon as I could walk. To think that I might not be playing football again after this weekend or in three weeks, it is emotional.
“Obviously, I will miss it, but there is a time for everything, so I just want to embrace the last few games and make the most of it.”
Haight had a huge outing in the Hilltops PFC final win on Sunday over the Huskies recording three defensive tackles, two defensive tackle assists, one special teams tackle and one quarterback sack.
Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant was pumped about
|Caleb Haight (#53) had a big performance in the PFC final.|
“I said in front of the team he had his best game in the uniform and played inspired football and helped to motivate our team,” said Sargeant. “It is great to see a guy in his fifth year on limited time come out and play with such energy and passion.
“He just played smart. He red the scenarios and got himself in all the right spots and made his plays. As I said, that Edmonton Huskies offence is certainly a good offence.
“Caleb (Haight) was a massive part in helping us shut them down.”
Away from the football field, Haight engages in numerous community initiatives with the club. He claimed the PFC’s Al Park Community Service awards this season.
Sargeant said all the members of the Haight family who have played for the Hilltops have been high character persons.
“Number one, Caleb he comes from such a great family,” said Sargeant. “We had all the other boys in our program, so the Haight family has certainly been a big part of the fabric of the Saskatoon Hilltops.
|Caleb Haight (#53) walks to the field with parent Lana and Jeff.|
“As I said, he deserves a lot of credit for who he is and what he has been doing.”
The community work has become such a lifestyle thing with Haight that he can’t really put a finger on how many things he has been involved with.
“It is hard to number,” said Haight, who usually is supported by a huge contingent of family and friends at each Hilltops game. “Obviously with the Hilltops, there have been a lot of things whether it has been the punt, pass or kick (or) a couple of high school camps.
“In the community, I’ve been involved with a lot of church related stuff whether it is youth groups or chaperoning high school students on trips. I guess my family in general has always been big into volunteering and everything.”
|Haight family gatherings are a common site at Hilltops games.|
“It has always meant a lot to volunteer,” said Haight. “Actually, a really cool moment is I helped lead a youth group two years ago to church.
“This year one of the guys that I had in my youth group (linebacker Abe Fimbo) won the rookie of the year out in the B.C. Conference. That was actually a really cool moment is seeing a guy that I mentored and watching him grow in football and having him play really well in Kamloops (with the Broncos).
“That is a pretty cool thing that came with that award.”
Haight is looking forward to Saturday’s clash with the Beefeaters. He adds film study can only tell you so much and there is always an element of mystery, when the Hilltops play clubs from the other conferences in the CJFL.
|Caleb Haight won the community service award for the PFC.|
“They have a running back specifically where I’ve seen some plays and been very impressed. They have an O-lineman who came down from the college ranks where he was a really dominant player. We give them a lot of respect.
“It should be a good battle on Saturday.”
The Hilltops have a number of milestones on the line too. They have won their last 29 overall games in a row including action in the regular season and playoffs, claimed victory in a CJFL record 18 straight post-season games and have won their last 27 contests in a row on the road including action in the regular season and post-season.
Saskatoon is trying to extend its current run of winning five straight CJFL titles. Sargeant needs one more win to pass retired Regina Rams head coach Frank McCrystal for the most career head coach victories in Canada’s amateur post-secondary football ranks.
Sargeant has a career 208-30-2 record in the regular season and playoffs since becoming the Hilltops head coach before the start of the 1998 campaign. McCrystal compiled a 208-104-2 record in the regular season and playoffs guiding the Rams as head coach from 1984 to 2014 including 15 campaigns in the CJFL and 16 seasons in U Sports as the University of Regina Rams.
|Caleb Haight (#53) pictured with the Hilltops D-line after the PFC final.|
“I’m just one piece of any puzzle,” said Sargeant. “It is just the Hilltops.
“Every one of my coaches has a job to do. Every one of my players has a job to do. We have to go out there and do the best job that we possibly can to make sure our fifth-year players leave as champions that is what it is all about.
“As I said, I’m blessed to be the head coach of the Saskatoon Hilltops. That provides me with a lot of pride and adds a lot of confidence with what I am doing with the men I am doing it with. As I said, I just can’t wait to play Saturday night and go out and play our best game of the year.”
Abrook gets weekly award in record game
|Ben Abrook (#32) follows the block of Taylon Elderkin, centre.|
On Sunday, Abrook carried the ball 44 times for 246 yards and two touchdowns as the Saskatoon Hilltops downed the Edmonton Huskies 30-14 in the PFC final at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. Abrook’s 44 carried set a new record for most carries in one CJFL playoff game.
The old mark was held by Chris Curran of the Regina Rams, who carried the ball 38 times for 225 yards on October 12, 1991 in a 22-14 victory over the Calgary Colts.
Thanks to Abrook’s big performance on Sunday, he was named the PFC’s player of the week for a fourth time this season, when the CJFL announced its weekly awards on Wednesday.
During the eight-game regular season, Abrook topped the PFC in rushing carrying the ball 199 times for 1,215 yards and eight touchdowns. Abrook was named a PFC all-star.
Kleiter captures fifth weekly special teams award
|Rylan Kleiter boots a 34 yard field goal for the Hilltops.|
Kleiter was named the PFC special teams player of the week for the fifth time in the last six weeks, when the CJFL announced its player of the week awards on Wednesday. The honour came due to Kleiter’s performance in the Hilltops 30-14 victory in the PFC final on Sunday against the Edmonton Huskies at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
In that win, Kleiter made all three of his field goal attempts connecting form 27, 34 and 14 yards. He also connected on all three of his conversion attempts.
Kleiter, who is a star curling skip, punted the ball twice for an average of 31.5 yards per kick. He kicked off six times for 275 yards for an average of 45.8 yards per kick.
Offensively, Kleiter led the Hilltops in receiving catching three passes for 47 yards.
During the regular season, Kleiter led the PFC in scoring with two touchdowns, 18 field goals, 33 converts and one single. He was a PFC all-star at the place kicker position and was named the PFC’s most outstanding special teams player.
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