Sunday 13 August 2023

Reider makes case to cement himself as Hilltops starting QB

Saskatoon smashes Wildcats 50-2 on opening day

Trey Reider was firing strikes for the Hilltops on Sunday.
While it may be a cliché, Trey Reider knows all he can do is put his best effort forward in order to remain the starting quarterback of the Saskatoon Hilltops.

If Reider can keep stringing together performances like he had at Saskatoon Minor Football Field on Sunday, any questions about him being the Hilltops starting signal caller will fade away to the point of no longer being in existence.

In the Hilltops opening day game to start their 2023 CJFL regular season schedule, Reider completed 20-of-25 passes for 294 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Hilltops hammered the visiting Edmonton Wildcats 50-2 before 1,201 spectators. After his final pass found offensive lineman Jeremy Funk for a six-yard completion for a touchdown on a gadget play from the jumbo set to give the Hilltops a 39-2 edge with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter, Reider gave way to the team’s reserve quarterbacks as the Saskatoon coaching staff got all the team’s backup into the contest.

Hilltops OC Shane Reider, left, talks to QB Trey Reider.
Brexton Elias took snaps right after Reider and Wil Ansell entered the contest at quarterback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

“We finally started to figure it out, and everything started to click out there,” said Reider, who also carried the ball three times for 19 yards. “I just put it up, and my wide receivers made some good catches, and O-line stood up and just was great with lots of pocket time.”

With the Hilltops having dealt with uncertainty at quarterback each of the past two seasons, Reider wants to do his best to make sure he is the answer as the starting quarterback in 2023. Last year, Damon Dutton started the campaign as the Hilltops starting quarterback, but after he struggled for a stretch, Reider was inserted at the starting spot for the last three regular season games and both of the club’s post-season contests.

Trey Reider scrambles downfield for the Hilltops.
In 2021, Doug Fleming started the first three regular season games at quarterback for the Hilltops before he got benched after he struggled for a stretch. Dutton took over as the starting quarterback for the rest of that campaign starting with the team’s fourth regular season contest.

Fleming departed from the Hilltops following the 2021 campaign, and Dutton exhausted his CJFL eligibility with the completion of the 2022 season. Reider said he focuses on what he has to do to become a better quarterback and added Dutton was a big positive influence in helping him out.

“Damon (Dutton) taught me a lot last year, and we were always competing for the spot,” said Reider, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 175 pounds. “Now that he is gone, I am just working as hard I can every day in practice to make sure it (uncertainty at the starting quarterback spot) doesn’t happen.”

Trey Reider (#3) calls out signals for the Hilltops. 
During regular season action in 2022, Reider completed 63-of-95 passes for 756 yards and seven touchdowns, while throwing three interceptions. Last year, Reider said he had a tendency to get locked on veteran receivers. In 2023, the fourth-year signal caller said he has gotten better at throwing to all the Hilltops pass catchers.

“With the younger guys, I just have more of a confidence level, and I just feel better in the pocket,” said Reider, whose father, Shane, is the Hilltops offensive coordinator. “As an older guy, now I have to take control, so it is a lot better now.”

Trey Reider completed 20-of-25 passes for 294 yards on Sunday.
Legendary Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant was pleased to see Reider have a big first game like he did on Sunday to start the campaign. With Hilltops star running back Boston Davidsen having surpassed 1,000 yard rushing in the 2022 regular season, Sargeant figured the Wildcats would try to key on the run first.

“The way they were playing, we knew Boston (Davidsen) is a marquee guy in the league,” said Sargeant. “They certainly came in and wanted to jam the line of scrimmage.

“Coach (Shane) Reider and his staff did a heck of a job of calling the right plays at the right time. Hey, Trey hit his marks. When he does that, it is amazing what we do and how we’re going to do it.

Part of the crowd of 1,201 spectators that saw the Hilltops play on Sunday.
“I’m very proud of everybody today.”

Going forward, Sargeant said the Hilltops coaches will be working on helping Reider consistently have performances game after game like he had on Sunday. The sideline boss really liked what his signal caller did early in the game on a 12-yard scramble run.

“I felt Trey’s best play of the game was none of these throws,” said Sargeant. “We had a certain play call.

Noah Flaman secures a 13-yard TD catch for the Hilltops.
“He looked, and he didn’t trust it and took off for 12 yards. That is the evolution of a quarterback, and that is what we are challenging on. That is what we keep practicing so hard and filming so hard.

“As I said, he was the leader of that offence today. Any time you put 50 points on then you are leading it pretty well.”

As for Sunday’s game, the Hilltops took a 1-0 lead, when kicker Teijon Abel-Douglas’s opening kickoff went into the Edmonton end zone for a rouge. After defensive back Justin Adamko came up with an interception for the Hilltops, Abel-Douglas booted a 42-yard field at the 2:49 mark of the first quarter to push the Hilltops lead out to 4-0.

Boston Davidsen ran in two touchdowns for the Hilltops.
With 5:14 remaining in the first quarter, Reider hit third-year receiver Noah Flaman with a 13-yard touchdown toss to give the Hilltops an 11-0 advantage. On the final play of the opening quarter, Davidsen scored on a one-yard plunge to push the Hilltops edge out to 18-0.

In the second quarter, Reider hit receiver Drake Douglas with a four-yard touchdown toss to put the Hilltops up 25-0 at halftime. Douglas finished the contest leading all receivers with nine catches for 171 yards to go with his major score.

“Drake Douglas was so good,” said Reider. “He just got open for me, and I just threw it deep to him.

“It was good to get that going.”

A bad shotgun snap by Hilltops centre Matthew Noble resulted in Davidsen downing the ball in his own end zone for a safety for the Wildcats and slightly trimmed the Saskatoon’s lead to 25-2 just 30 seconds into the third quarter.

Drake Douglas caught nine passes for 171 yards and a TD.
Davidsen later scored on another one-yard plunge leading up to Funk’s touchdown catch to give the Hilltops a hefty 39-2 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Hilltops rounded out the game’s scoring in the fourth quarter with a 60-yard punt single by middle linebacker/punter, Matt Wist, a 40-yard field goal from second-year kicker Ryden Gratton and 33-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Xavier Sabo.

“For a young team, the thing we challenged on that was we want to see great energy and great excitement and enthusiasm,” said Sargeant. “We saw that today.

“We were physical. The coaches did a great job of getting this group ready, and they were on point. Any time you win 50-2 you are doing a lot of things right.

“Offence and defence and special teams complimented one another. It was just a great team win, and we need this.”

Ben Marce returns a fumble recovery for the Hilltops.
Davidsen led the Hilltops with 74 yards rushing on 16 carries to go with his two touchdowns.

Defensively, Wist had three total tackles and an interception for the Hilltops. Defensive lineman Johnathon Stevens had a sack for the host side, while fellow defensive lineman Ben Marce had a fumble recovery for Saskatoon.

Quarterback Caleb Taylor completed 12-of-21 passes for the Wildcats for 96 yards, while throwing two interceptions. Running back David Lezama led the Wildcats with 67 yards rushing on 10 carries.

Defensively, defensive back Tytan Johannesson led the Wildcats with 6.5 total tackles. Defensive linemen Lajaune Morgan and D’wayne Williams each shared a half sack.

Xavier Sabo (#32) reacts to scoring a TD for the Hilltops.
With the opening day game out of the way, the Hilltops now turn their attention to their next contest this coming Sunday, when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Rifles (1 p.m. local time, Maple Grove Park). Going into that contest, Reider said the key is for his Hilltops to keep sharpening up their game.

“I’d say we just worry about us this week at practice and just continue to throw hard,” said Reider. “Our wide receivers are going to make some plays for us next week.”

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