Fresh off a third straight national title, the Saskatoon Hilltops enter 2017 looking to claim another place in junior football history.
A Canadian Bowl victory would give the blue and yellow its first ever run of four straight championships.
“We set lofty goals again this year and now we have to put our money where our mouth is,” Head coach Tom ‘Sarge’ Sargeant said, adding he believes this team has the talent to once again go all the way.
“It’s a good core of veterans and a crop of young players that are starting to gel together.”
Only one team has ever accomplished the four-peat. The Hamilton Jr. Tiger Cats won national titles in 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951 when it was called the Leader Post trophy.
To win title number four, the Hilltops will have to do it without the quarterback that won the first three. Jared Andreychuk graduated from the program after the 2016 campaign, throwing for over 5,000 yards in the past three seasons.
Fourth year Jordan Walls will be trusted to pick up where Andreychuk left off.
“He had a good high school career and is doing everything right,” Sarge said. “We can’t wait to see him perform.”
While there will be a new man under centre, other key players are back for 2017. Running back Logan Fischer was ranked second on the CJFL’s top 50 players list. Defensive lineman Cam Schnitzler was ranked third.
The Hilltops kick off their 2017 season against a familiar team in unfamiliar territory. They visit the Regina Thunder on Saturday, Aug. 12 at New Mosiac Stadium. It’s the team’s first time playing in the new stadium.
“Anytime you go to Regina it’s a thrill for us,” Sarge said. “We’re looking forward to representing Saskatoon.”
Following the date with Regina, Saskatoon will visit the Winnipeg Rifles on Aug. 20. The home opener is on Saturday, Aug. 26 in a crossover game with the Ottawa Sooners of the Ontario Football Conference.