Sunday, 17 October 2021

Hilltops run wild over Wildcats

Saskatoon romps to 44-7 victory to earn playoff bye

Dillan Heintz, right, scores his first of two TDs on Sunday.
The Saskatoon Hilltops offence hit new heights for the 2021 season.

On Sunday before 1,142 spectators at Saskatoon Minor Football Field, the Hilltops thumped the Edmonton Wildcats 44-7 and piled up 528 yards of total offence in a CJFL regular season clash. The result marked the first time the Hilltops scored 40-or-more points and piled up 500-or-more yards of offence in a game in the 2021 campaign.

Before going on a bye week, the Hilltops downed the Edmonton Huskies 34-20 at SMF Field on October 3 with a sound offensive performance in that contest.

Hilltops quarterback Damon Dutton thought his team’s offence was a step better in the win over the Wildcats.

“It was great as an offence,” said Dutton, who completed 16-of-26 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions in the win. “We’ve been working hard at it all year.

Boston Davidsen scores his first of two TD on Sunday.
“We were able to put it all together today. (The win over the Huskies on October 3) was good too, but today was just really good to get out and do our thing as a unit. The coach was making great calls.

“Everybody was playing their positions as well as they could. We got the result we were looking for.”

The win was the third straight for the Hilltops, who improved to 5-2. Saskatoon also locked up second place in the Prairie Football Conference and a bye to host a PFC semifinal, when the Huskies dropped a 45-42 overtime decision at home to the Regina Thunder.

The Thunder erased a 36-12 Huskies lead to pull out the win locking up first in the PFC with a 7-0 record. The first place finish in the PFC regular season standings is a first for the Thunder, who entered the CJFL in 2000.

Damon Dutton threw three TD passes for the Hilltops.
Regina earns a bye to host a PFC semifinal game. The Thunder would host the PFC Final, if they win their PFC semifinal contest.

The Huskies fell to 4-3 and are locked into finishing third in the PFC and will host a PFC quarter-final playoff game. They can’t catch the Hilltops for second place in the final week of the regular season for the PFC, because the Hilltops swept the seasonal series between the two sides 2-0.

While the result between the Thunder and Huskies played out as it did, legendary Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant was pleased about the seasonal milestones his team hit in the win over the Wildcats, which let his club go deep into the bench for the first time in the campaign.

Dillan Heintz caught four passes for 120 yards and two TDs.
“For me, the best part was that we got all the players on the field today,” said Sargeant. “We hadn’t done that in a long time.

“You could just see the different excitement and energy. The veterans were cheering for the young guys. That is what it was about.

“I never worry about the points as long as we get the ‘W.’ What I was excited about was that all the players got to play today. I guarantee you’ll see a difference in practice week next week.”

In Sunday’s encounter between the Hilltops and Wildcats, Saskatoon got on the board first with a two-yard touchdown plunge from running back Boston Davidsen at the 5:50 mark of the first quarter to go ahead 6-0.

Carter McLean (#26) ran the ball six times for 73 yards on Sunday.
The Hilltops elected to have starting safety Brant Morrow handle the place kicking duties, and he got injured, when the Huskies blocked his conversion attempt. Morrow left the game favouring his left leg.

Regular Hilltops place kicker Teijon Abel-Douglas did dress and handled the kickoff duties from that point forward. Joe Yausie and Evan Mantyka took turns playing safety until the Hilltops emptied the bench to get everyone in the game, when the contest was out of hand in the fourth quarter.

Right as the first quarter clock expired, the Hilltops got another two-yard touchdown run from Davidsen, and after a failed two-point conversion attempt, Saskatoon’s lead sat at 12-0.

The Hilltops celebrate an interception from Dylan Cook, left.
With 4:28 remaining the second quarter, Dutton hit veteran receiver Dillan Heintz with a seven-yard touchdown toss. Saskatoon’s lead sat at 18-0 after they were unsuccessful on another two-point conversion attempt.

The Wildcats proceeded to put together a lengthy offensive series that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run from running back David Lezama, which cut the Hilltops advantage to 18-7 with 1:43 remaining in the second quarter.

Saskatoon answered that score on its very next series. Dutton connected with Heintz on a deep pass and run touchdown that covered 64 yards. Hilltops slot receiver Boden Marley scored a two-point conversion on a jet sweep play to allow the host side’s advantage to sit at 26-7 with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter.

The Hilltops defence makes a big hit on a Wildcats receiver.
Heintz would finish the contest with four catches for 120 yards to go with his two major scores.

The Hilltops took the 26-7 lead into the halftime break.

Sargeant said the deep touchdown strike to Heintz was a pivotal moment in the contest.

“That is just sort of how this offence is starting to evolve,” said Sargeant. “The confidence is just starting to get better and better each game.

“Number 19 Damon Dutton has been so poised back there. Dylan Heintz has been a prime time player for a long time. We thought we had some mismatch opportunities.

“We took advantage of them, and the boys executed. It is certainly good timing, but it is what we expect.”

Hilltops players Dylan Cook, left, and Konner Johnson, right, team on a hit.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats conceded a safety due to bad field position and Hilltops punter Doug Fleming scored a rouge on a 42-yard punt to give the Hilltops a 29-7 edge.

Before the third quarter ended, Dutton hit veteran receiver Josh Wiebe with a five yard touchdown toss and connected with speedy pass catcher Matthew Turple on a two-point conversion to increase the Hilltops advantage to 37-7.

First-year quarterback Trey Reider entered the game just before the end of the third quarter. Just 59 seconds into the fourth quarter, Reider connected with first year receiver Noah Flaman on a 30-yard touchdown pass.

Hilltops receiver Josh Wiebe, left, makes a TD catch.
The Hilltops lead sat at 43-7 after a two-point conversion attempt failed.

Reider completed all six of his passes for 90 yards, before Fleming came in to take over the single calling duties. Fleming completed his one pass attempt for 25 yards.

As a punter, Fleming rounded out the 44-7 final with a 41-yard punt single the rest of the way.

Before Fleming’s punt single, the Wildcats had a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jonathan Ericson to receiver Lucas Howe get nixed due to a holding penalty.

The Hilltops completed passes to 10 different receivers piling up 329 yards passing to go along with 199 yards on the ground. Dutton was pleased his squad was able to showcase the passing game to create extra worry for future opponents.

Joe Yausie returns an interception for the Hilltops.
“Every receiver we have is a weapon,” said Dutton. “We don’t need to just single in on one guy.

“We can spread it around, which makes it harder on defences to really know where we are going to go and what we are going to do.”

Davidsen topped with Hilltops with 88 yards rushing on 17 carries to go with his two rushing majors. Carter McLean carried the ball six times for 73 yards.

Ericson completed 13-of-21 passes for 203 yards, while throwing two interceptions in the loss for the Wildcats.

Defensive backs Dylan Cook and Joe Yausie each had single interceptions for the Hilltops. Defensive linemen Daylen Hartz and Reace Michnik had single sacks for Saskatoon, while Ben Marce and Ryan Adamko shared a sack.

Boden Marley (#8) runs after catching a short pass.
Defensive lineman Justin Rutherford and defensive back Colton MacNeil led the Wildcats with six total tackles each.

Hilltops defensive tackle Jaxon Funk, who is in this fourth full season with the team, thought his team’s defensive unit had a solid outing.

“Our coaches did a lot of preparation for us,” said Funk, who took on numerous double teams in the contest. “They all put us in the right spots.

“We really worked on keeping it simple like just do your job and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and just bare down and get it done. It was nice to see everyone doing their job and not worrying about what everyone else is doing.”

Veteran Hilltops DTs Dylan McNutt, left, and Jaxon Funk created havoc.
Funk enjoyed seeing the Hilltops younger players make plays, when the Hilltops emptied the bench to get everyone on the field in the fourth quarter.

“It was great seeing those young guys get out,” said Funk. “We’ve been kind of missing that this year.

“It was great to see those young guys with all that energy. They made some plays. Our future looks bright at D-line for sure.”

The Hilltops reserve defenders enjoyed making big plays.
The Hilltops close out their regular season schedule, when they travel to Winnipeg this coming Sunday to take on the Rifles (2-5).

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