The Saskatoon Hilltops hope to write their name in the Canadian Junior Football League history book Saturday in Windsor, by becoming the first team to win four straight Canadian Bowl championships and 20th in franchise history. The Toppers head into the showdown with the Ontario Champion A-K-O Fratmen as three-time defending title holders.
The team spent most of last week drawing up the game plan while studying their opponent and have planned to ramp up on field preparations this week. Head Coach Tom Sergeant said the excitement has started to build.
“Game film shows us they’re athletic, they’re physical, those are teams we like to play,” said Sergeant who added on-field preparations will ramp up as the week progresses.
“We will get some cracking and smacking in the cold prairie wind and make sure we’re ready for Saturday.”
Sergeant pointed out the Hamilton Hurricanes didn’t try to establish a ground game against Windsor’s defensive line during the 34-20 A-K-O Fratmen victory in the Ontario final. Windsor’s defence forced five turnovers and recorded five sacks.
“They’ve got a lot of blitzing going on,” said Sergeant. The Hilltops field boss also said the A-K-O Fratmen have quality athletes on Offence.
“They’ve got a big O-line, high-end receivers, you know, ball in flight, jump ball, they’re going to go get it, then a quarterback and running back that are elusive.”
Windsor quarterback Brandon Reaume scored four rushing touchdowns in the Ont. final while running the ball 14 times for 88 yards.
The Hilltops dominated the BC Champion V-I Raiders 48-0 in the C-J-F-L semifinal, but Sergeant said he isn’t listening to anyone who is suggesting Saskatoon is the favourite in Saturday’s showdown.
“We call that noise around here,” said Sergeant who felt the momentum going into the game would be in the other locker room.
“We respect any opponent we play, we have great respect for the Windsor A-K-O Fratmen, their coaching staff and their players, they’re at home, so at the end of the day, we’re going into their environment, with that brings a different element, so they’re going to have more of the energy and excitement to really perform.”
It will be the first meeting between two since the 1996 Canadian Bowl when the Hilltops won their ninth championship with a 39-7 victory in Oshawa Ont. However, Sergeant suggested the result could be reversed if the Hilltops aren’t prepared mentally and physically.
“I’ve learned over time if you don’t respect who you’re playing, you’re the one that’s going to end up with the black eye,” said Sergeant.