For the first time since 2019, the Saskatoon Hilltops reign high over Canadian junior football.
The Hilltops held off a late push Saturday in Langford, British Columbia by the Westshore Rebels on a cold and rainy evening to win the 2023 Canadian Bowl by a 17-10 final, ending their season with a record 23rd national championship.
Saskatoon’s victory caps off a perfect season for the 12-0 Hilltops, running the table against every opponent they faced following a 32-1 drubbing at the hands of a group of Hilltops alumni during training camp.
Allowing just 10 points against a Rebels team that was ranked first in the Canadian Junior Football League throughout most of the season, the Hilltops finish off the year with a staggering 469-76 differential in points over their dozen regular season and playoff games.
Coming off a 43-0 shutout over the St. Clair Saints in CJFL semi-finals on October 29, it was a slow start for the Hilltops offence as they ended a scoreless first quarter against Westshore with neither side able to find pay dirt.
Saskatoon Hilltops trounce St. Clair Saints to advance to Canadian Bowl
Saskatoon finally broke through with 12:29 remaining in the second quarter, as quarterback Trey Reider aired the ball out for receiver Noah Flaman who hauled in the 45-yard touchdown pass to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Westshore’s first points of the night came on the opening kickoff of the second half, with kick returner Cairo Berry snaking his way through Hilltops defenders and finding the end zone to tie the score at 7-7 on the first play of the third quarter.
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Just over five minutes later however, Berry fumbled the ball on a punt return with Hilltops defensive back Nathan Young giving possession back for Saskatoon.
Reider drove the ball down to the goal line and on a third and goal gamble, handed it off to running back Boston Davidsen, who plunged across on the one-yard carry to make it a 14-7 game with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Saskatoon and Westshore traded field goals in the fourth quarter, with the Rebels driving the field with under two minutes left trailing by seven points.
Rebels quarterback Te Jessie on first down saw his pass tipped and intercepted by Saskatoon linebacker Matt Wist to end the drive, before defensive back Jace Mowles would break up a third down attempt with 13 seconds remaining to seal the 115th Canadian Bowl for the Hilltops.
The championship caps off the Hilltops careers of Davidsen, Wist, Wade Keating, Evan Ward, Carter Wingert, Jordan Levesque, Craig Torgerson and Justice Walker who are all graduating from the CJFL.
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