With one second left of play, the Saskatoon Hilltops and the crowd burst into shouts of jubilation as the toppers downed the Okanagan Sun 38-24 at Saskatoon Minor Football Field Saturday.
It’s the 18th national championship for the Hilltops and fifth in six years.
“What great energy from the crowd. It just translates to this field. I’ve been here a long time and I have not felt this type of energy,” said Head coach Tom Sergeant who thanked the crowd for helping propel them to victory.
For fifth year players like defensive lineman Matt Kozun it capped of their Hilltop careers.
“Feels unbelievable. Words can’t describe the feeling.” “I think a lot of guys start to tear up as soon as that last whistle goes,” he said holding back tears himself.
The Hilltops opened up a 10-0 lead late in the fourth quarter when fifth year receiver Even Turkington hauled in a 10-yard toss from Jared Andreychuk. Okanagan stormed back to take a 14-10 lead. Quarterback Cam Bedore hit receiver Kyle Patchell on an 18-yard touchdown strike with 1:30 left in the first quarter, then 8-minutes later, Kory Nagata scored on a three yard run.
The Hilltops would regain the lead on a Logan Fischer one yard touchdown run, but the Sun would take the lead right back. Layne Hull blocked a punt and returned it 44-yards for a touchdown giving Okanagan a 21-17 lead heading the locker room.
The Hilltops took command of the game in the third quarter putting up 14 points. Tyson Sawtatzky scored on a 73-yard pass from Andrechuk. Fisher’s second touchdown of the game, a three yard run put the Toppers up 31-21 going to the fourth quarter.
Turkington would seal the win with a late score, his second touchdown on the day.
“Our fifth year players were our best players, were our best leaders and that’s why we won today,” said Sargeant, adding the play of his defensive line was a big factor.
“D-Line took over. It was an impressive performance, one that we needed and if they didn’t come to play today, I don’t think we get out of dodge.”