The Saskatoon Hilltops and Langley Rams are set to clash for Canadian junior football’s highest honour at SMF Field Saturday.
History is on the line for the hometown Hilltops. The Toppers are looking to become the first team to win five consecutive Canadian Bowl titles.
Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant is ready to get back to football after an extended layoff.
“It’s just tough to sit and wait,” Sargeant said about his team that last played on Oct. 28. “The last couple weeks, we’ve had the eye on the prize, got the focus on Langley and hopefully the coaches have put together a good game plan.”
Typically a Canadian Bowl would have been played a week ago, but organizers opted to provide teams an extra week to prepare for the game.
Langley Rams head coach Howie Zaron isn’t getting caught up in any hype or underdog storyline heading into his first Canadian Bowl.
“Whether we lose by 10, win by 10, get kicked or do the kicking, we’re here to punch someone in the face and get punched back,” Zaron said.
“That’s what’s going to happen, someone’s going to get punched, the other guy’s going to get punched and we’ll find out where we fall.”
Langley, champions of the British Columbia Football Conference, last met the Hilltops in the 2014 Canadian Bowl, losing 39-14. That game started the Hilltops drive-for-five Canadian titles.
If the Hilltops have any hope of winning, containing Rams’ offensive threat Jevon Cottoy is a priority. Cottoy said he will be playing receiver, quarterback and punter in a variety of schemes and packages to exploit his talent all over the field.
“Our coaches have put together a good game plan for the past two weeks, putting in some new tricks,” he said. “No one is probably going to expect it.”
Knowing that all the support will be in the Hilltops’ favour, Cottoy said it will take any and every trick necessary to try and keep the Hilltops out of the history books.
“You have to pull out all the tricks out of your bag come game day, especially in a national championship,” he said. “We’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting for this game to pull out all the stuff we have.”
Hilltops quarterback Jordan Walls has avoided questions about the drive-for-five, but even he couldn’t deny the opportunity to win a fifth national title in front of family and friends in his final start in Hilltops uniform.
“It’s certainly special,” he said. “It will be fun to get out there and play with these (teammates) one more time and certainly in front of our home fans, they’re the best fans in Canada.”
While the stands will be coloured blue and gold with friends and family, Zaron is hoping to spoil any celebrations.
“We didn’t come here to lose a football game,”he said. “We could have stayed home and done that.”