Friday 25 August 2023

Hilltops’ Abel-Douglas just misses record territory

Teijon Abel-Douglas (#80) boots a field goal on August 13.
Teijon Abel-Douglas just focuses on his next kick and doesn’t realize when he is on a roll.

This past Sunday, the Saskatoon Hilltops third-year place kicker nailed all five of his field goal attempts in his team’s 49-0 victory over the host Winnipeg Rifles at East Side Eagles Field in Winnipeg. The Humboldt, Sask., product was short of the Hilltops team record for most field goals make in one regular season game and two kicks away from the CJFL regular season mark for most field goals made in one contest.

Abel-Douglas was unaware about how close he was to record territory. He said his job was easy making kicks in the win against Winnipeg, because the Hilltops special teams unit was on fire.

“It is just good execution from everyone,” said Abel-Douglas, whose 2-0 Hilltops return to action this coming Sunday against the 0-2 Calgary Colts (1 p.m., Saskatoon Minor Football Field). “It is good execution from Isaac (Michayluk) snapping and Drake (Douglas) holding and the unspoken heroes of like the guys on the line taking the shot.

“When we have everything just working and running smoothly, it is real easy. It is just keep your head down, kick the ball and celebrate with the team after.”

Had the opportunity for Abel-Douglas to make a couple of more field goals in that contest come up, he would have had the chance to equal some long standing marks.

The Hilltops team record for most field goals made in one regular season game is six, and it happened twice. On August 26, 1984, Rick Barrack was the first Hilltops player to make six field goals in one regular season game. That mark was matched on October 3, 1999 when Jody Kerr made six field goals in one regular season contest.

The CJFL record for most field goals made in one regular season game is seven, and it happened twice. On July 31, 1988, Brian Demug of the Colts made seven field goals in one CJFL regular season game. That mark was matched on August 15, 1992 when Jason Appleyard of the London Beefeaters hit seven field goals in one CJFL regular season contest.

Against the Rifles this past Sunday, Abel-Douglas made his field goals from 18, 30, 31, 31 and 34 yards out. He made three of those kicks in the first half helping the Hilltops build an 18-0 lead and added his fourth and fifth field goals in the third quarter to aid the Hilltops in building a 38-0 advantage.

Teijon Abel-Douglas (#80) got close to a longstand CJFL record.
Abel-Douglas said he didn’t feel like he was in the zone or anything special was happening. He was just focused on the process of making each kick.

“It is more next kick mentality,” said Abel-Douglas, who stands 6-feet and weighs 155 pounds. “You’re only as good as your last kick.

“Kickers don’t get a bunch of opportunities every week. Any time I am out there I like to keep my head down and just stay focused. After the first, second and third one, you are just always thinking about the next one.

“That is what was going through my head I would say.”

Legendary Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant was pleased Abel-Douglas was able to come through with his kicks to allow the Saskatoon side to build momentum in that contest against the Rifles. That performance saw Abel-Douglas named the PFC’s special teams player of the week on Wednesday.

“Our goal all the time on offence is to get points on the board whether they are touchdowns or field goals,” said Sargeant. “Obviously, we want touchdowns, but the situation didn’t dictate that.

“Teijon (Abel-Douglas) and the field goal team went out there, and they were 100 per cent. It was awesome. It is a good mechanism.

“You are always looking for all three phases to contribute. Any time you make a field goal, it helps to build the momentum and the morale up, and that certainly paid off. Eventually, we did find the end zone a few times.”

Back 2021, Abel-Douglas joined the Hilltops right after graduating from Humboldt Collegiate Institute, where he played for the Mohawks football team. He was joined on the Saskatoon roster by then 19-year-old Carter Sirman, who was playing his first CJFL season. Abel-Douglas handled the majority of the place kicking duties that campaign, while both kickers battle nagging injuries.

In 2022, the Hilltops brought in then 22-year-old veteran Connor Green who ultimately replaced Sirman on the team’s roster. Green, who spent four years with the University of Regina Rams football team in the U Sports ranks, handled the majority of the place kicking and punting duties for the Hilltops in 2022.

Teijon Abel-Douglas handles the Hilltops place kicking duties.
He ended up developing a mentor and apprentice type relationship with Abel-Douglas, who was in his second-year with the club. Abel-Douglas it was a huge help to have Green on the roster.

Through the veteran, the youngster learned more about the skills and techniques of the punting game. When it came to kicking field goals, Abel-Douglas said he picked up tips about how to read the wind conditions from Green to be able to boot the ball better among the countless pointers that came his way.

“You could definitely tell he (Green) had done it for longer than I had,” said Abel-Douglas, who added Green quickly developed an infectious love for the Hilltops that lasts to this day. “Being a fifth-year guy and playing in all those big games we had playing in the PFC final and all that, you sit and watch and you are there to support him.

“You want to get better off what he is showing you. He is not showing it for no reason. I definitely keep a lot of that in my mind.

“Me and him (Green) still talk very frequently, and he wishes me good luck. He is a great friend, a great brother. I definitely learned a lot from him.”

Sargeant said that mentor and apprentice type relationship Green and Abel-Douglas developed really helped Abel-Douglas when he reassumed the main place kicking duties for the Hilltops this season.

“Teijon kicked the year before (in 2021), and he had a year to sort of be around how another guy attacks his role and his job,” said Sargeant. “I think it was an awesome learning experience.

“Hey, Teijon is in his third year. He has two more years after this year, and he is really becoming a marquee player in the PFC, and the sky is the limit. The confidence that he left with from Sunday him and us as a team it is only going to benefit us as we move into the future.”

Looking to the future, Abel-Douglas didn’t think it would be likely he would get the chance to kick six, seven or eight field goals in a game to get a chance match or break the Hilltops or the CJFL records for most field goals made in a game. He expects the offence will be efficient in finishing drives with touchdowns.

Teijon Abel-Douglas is focused on helping the Hilltops win games.
With that noted, he admitted he doesn’t concern himself with setting any personal records.

“I feel like at the end of the day we are here to win a national championship,” said Abel-Douglas. “If it naturally comes where we need to kick seven field goals or something like that, if that happens, then sure, great.

“I’ll do my part for the team. At the end of the day, we want to win. I’m here to win.

“These guys take hits for me. These guys bleed. At the end of the day, it is more of me just doing my job, me doing my part for them as they do their part for me.”

Young Colts quarterback to test ’Toppers, other notes

Matt Wist, centre, and the Hilltops“D” will face a pass happy Colts squad.
It won’t be hard to miss the player the Saskatoon Hilltops will be looking to limit or shutdown when they play the Calgary Colts.

The two teams are set to go at it on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Saskatoon Minor Football Field in a CJFL regular season clash. The Hilltops enter the contest with a 2-0 record, while the Colts have an 0-2 mark.

While the Colts are searching for their first win, their 19-year-old quarterback is turning heads helping the Calgary side score 58 points in two games. Liam Oczkowski, who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 210 points, has completed 38-of-67 passes for 590 yards and four touchdowns, while throwing one interception. He has run the ball 18 times for 122 yards and one major score.

Legendary Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant said it was pretty obvious to see that Oczkowski, who played last season with the Prince George Kodiaks in the British Columbia Football Conference, is the Colts big playmaker.

“It starts with their quarterback (Oczkowski),” said Sargeant. “He was involved in 80 per cent of their plays last week and 70 per cent the week before.

“They really put the ball in his hands and expect him to be a decision maker, be a playmaker, and he has shown that ability to do that. He has put up a lot of good numbers. We have a lot of respect for his athleticism.”

With Oczkowski slinging the ball, the Colts have two receivers rated in the top four in receiving yards in the PFC. Nicholas Sirleaf sits third in the PFC with 182 receiving yards coming off seven catches with two of those receptions going for touchdowns. Tim Dewar sits fourth in the PFC with 123 receiving yards coming on eight catches.

The Hilltops enter Sunday’s game with five players having make single interceptions over their first two outing in linebackers Matt Wist, Wade Keating and Denym Mantyka along with cornerback Justin Adamko and safety Dalton Urban. Saskatoon has outscored the opposition 99-2 so far this season.

“It is going to be a big job by our defence, but at the end of the day, we have a lot of confidence in that defence,” said Sargeant. “Part of the whole package is we have to make sure our offence stays on the field a little bit better this week than what they did last Sunday (in a 49-0 win over the Rifles in Winnipeg).

“We have a lot of challenges out there. We have a lot of expectations. We know we have to rally up and come out and play better this Sunday at home against Calgary.

“Hey, they are 0-2. They’ve had enough. They are going to be ready to try and catch us on one.”

Teijon Abel-Douglas, who is the Hilltops place kicker, believes his team’s overall confidence is in a good spot going into this Sunday’s game against the Colts.

“I think honestly offensively and defensively we’re just playing great,” said Abel-Douglas. “The defence, they had nine takeaways last week.

“When the defence is on top of it like that, and we have a short field to work with, it is great. I think the confidence around here is a great deal right now. At the same time, we have to play one down at a time there is no question about that.

“Going into this week, I’m feeling good. The body feels good. I think the spirits around here are high, and I think we are ready to go.”

  • On Wednesday, Regina Thunder quarterback Carter Moberg was named the offensive player of the week for the PFC for his efforts in his team’s 53-14 road win over the Edmonton Wildcats. In that contest, Moberg completed 21-of-34 passes for 367 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran the ball twice for 18 yards.
  • On Wednesday, Edmonton Huskies running back Brady Fedyniak was named the defensive player of the week for the PFC for his efforts in his team’s 51-38 victory over the visiting Calgary Colts this past Saturday. He recorded 10 total solo tackles in the win.
  • Hilltops star running back Boston Davidsen sits second in the PFC in rushing yards. He has carried the ball 34 times for 268 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Hilltops emerging star receiver Drake Douglas tops the PFC in receiving yards. He has 13 catches for 210 yards and one touchdown.
  • Hilltops starting quarterback Trey Reider has completed 28-of-42 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns this season, while throwing one interception. Reider was the subject of a feature story appearing on the website of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders known as written by Roughriders senior journalist and team historian Rob Vanstone, who is part of the 2023 class to enter the Regina Sports Hall of Fame. The piece on Reider can be found by clicking right here.

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