Saskatoon Hilltops
Team logo
Established1947 (1947)
Based inSaskatoon, Saskatchewan
Home stadiumSaskatoon Minor Football Field at Gordon Howe Park
Head coachTom Sargeant
General managerKim Wudrick
LeagueCanadian Junior Football League
DivisionPrairie Football Conference
ColoursRoyal blue, gold
League titles23
WebsiteOfficial website

The Saskatoon Hilltops are a junior Canadian football team based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Hilltops play in the six-team Prairie Football Conference, which is part of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) and compete annually for the Canadian Bowl. The team was founded in 1921 as a senior team in the Saskatchewan Rugby Football Union, which it played in until 1936. Two years after WWII the team reorganized in 1947. Beginning in 1953, the Hilltops have won 23 Canadian Bowl championships. The Hilltops won six consecutive Canadian Bowls between 2014 and 2019.[1]

Playing field

Home field of the Saskatoon Hilltops

The Hilltops play their home games on the Saskatoon Minor Football Field at Gordie Howe Sports Complex, and practice at Kilburn Park in the Buena Vista neighbourhood.

Recent history

2014 season

The Hilltops entered the playoffs with 6 wins and 2 losses which resulted in a first place standing. On October 19, 2014, their first play off game against the Winnipeg Rifles was finalized with a 43 to 13 score in favour of the Hilltops.

Final score on the scoreboard at a playoff game between the Winnipeg Rifles and Saskatoon Hilltops on October 19, 2014, at the Saskatoon Minor Football Field

The Hilltops proceeded to the Prairie Football Conference finals on Sunday October 26, 2014, defeating the Calgary Colts 27–7 at Saskatoon Minor Football Field. On Nov 8, 2014, the Hilltops completed their successful playoff run with a victory over the Langley Rams at MacLeod Stadium with a final score of 39–14.[2] This was the first of six consecutive Canadian Bowls.

2017 and 2018 record-breaking seasons

The Hilltops entered the 2017 season having completed their third "threepeat": the first being three consecutive Canadian Bowl Championships in 2001, 2002 and 2003; the second 2010, 2011 and 2012; and the most recent 2014, 2015 and 2016. Only three other teams in Canadian Bowl history had the opportunity to win four championships in a row: the Regina Rams (1993, 1994 and 1995); the Edmonton Huskies (1962, 1963 and 1964); and the Montreal AAAs (1925, 1926 and 1927). The Hilltops only loss during the 2017 season came mid-season, in the last two minutes 29–26 at the hands of the Regina Thunder. Their final regular season win over the undefeated Edmonton Huskies earned the Hilltops a matching 7–1 record, but the head-to-head victory gave the Hilltops first place in the PFC and home field advantage for three consecutive playoff games.

The Hilltops defeated the Winnipeg Rifles and the Regina Thunder before managing a convincing 48–0 win over the Vancouver Island Raiders to make it to their fourth consecutive Canadian Bowl, which was played on Nov 11th in Windsor against the Windsor AKO Fratmen, the oldest CJFL team in continuous operation. The Hilltops emerged victorious in this historic game, winning 56–11, finally achieving the "fourpeat".[3]

The Hilltops completed the 2018 regular season with a perfect 8–0 record scoring 402 points while yielding only 70. Throughout the entire regular season the Hilltops trailed only once, in the fifth game 17–16 to the Regina Thunder with 2:28 left in the first half, regaining the lead before the half ended, and going on to a 48–24 victory. In the playoffs, the Hilltops silenced the Winnipeg Rifles 58–5 and defeated the Edmonton Huskies 28-9.

The 111th Canadian Bowl championship game was played in Saskatoon on November 17, between the Hilltops and the British Columbia Football Conference Champion Langley Rams.[4] The Hilltops led from start to finish with a balanced passing and running attack, winning 58-21. The Hilltops finished the season with a perfect 11-0 record, outscoring the opposing teams 546-105; and Head Coach Tom Sargeant also claimed his 12th Canadian Bowl championship.[5]

2019 season

The Hilltops finished the season with a perfect 12-0 record, defeating the Langley Rams 11-6 in a hard fought defensive struggle for the Canadian Bowl at MacLeod Stadium in Langley. In getting to the championship game they beat the London Beefeaters 51-1 in the Interprovincial playoff, the Edmonton Huskies 30 - 14 in the Prairie Conference Final, and the Edmonton Wildcats 31 - 7 in the semi-final. The Toppers finished the regular season with a perfect record, but had to mount 4th quarter comebacks against the Edmonton Huskies and the Regina Thunder.[6] At the end of the 2019 season 15 players graduated from the Hilltops.[7] among them ten PFC all-stars,[8] five of whom were named CJFL all-stars.[9] Two Hilltops won CJFL Outstanding Player Awards.[10]

2020 season cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic

On June 8, 2020, CFJL commissioner announced the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[11] On resumption of play, the Langley Rams won the Canadian Bowl in 2021 and the Okanagan Sun won in 2022.[12]

2023 Champions again

On Remembrance Day in 2023 the Saskatoon Hilltops won a hard fought victory 17-10 over the Westshore Rebels on a cold rainy day.[13] The championship was contested by undefeated teams. The Westshore Rebels came with a high powered offense that averaged more than 50 points per game [14] against the stingy defense of the Saskatoon Hilltops that only yielded 6 points per game.[15] The Hilltops prevailed, winning its 23rd national championship finishing the season with a record of 12–0.[16]

Canadian Junior Football League Championships

The Hilltops have won 23 of the 26 Canadian Junior Football Championship Games they have played in, the most recent being the 2023 Canadian Bowl versus the Westshore Rebels. Throughout the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons combined, the Hilltops lost only one game, in mid-season of 2017. Finishing their 2023 season at 12-0, the Hilltops completed their sixth perfect season in team history, before Covid-19, going 12–0 in 2019, 11–0 in 2018, 12-0 in 2003, 12-0 in 1978, and 11-0 in 1958.[17] They won eight Canadian Bowls during the 2010s.

Canadian Bowl Championships

Year Champion Finalists
1991 Saskatoon Hilltops 48 Ottawa Sooners 7
1996 Saskatoon Hilltops 38 Windsor AKO Fratmen 7
2001 Saskatoon Hilltops 45 Okanagan Sun 11
2002 Saskatoon Hilltops 20 St. Leonard Cougars 18
2003 Saskatoon Hilltops 59 Victoria Rebels 0
2007 Saskatoon Hilltops 26 St. Leonard Cougars 3
2010 Saskatoon Hilltops 34 Vancouver Island Raiders 23
2011 Saskatoon Hilltops 29 Hamilton Hurricanes 1
2012 Saskatoon Hilltops 23 Langley Rams 21
2014 Saskatoon Hilltops 39 Langley Rams 14
2015 Saskatoon Hilltops 38 Okanagan Sun 24
2016 Saskatoon Hilltops 37 Westshore Rebels 25
2017 Saskatoon Hilltops 56 Windsor AKO Fratmen 11
2018 Saskatoon Hilltops 58 Langley Rams 21
2019 Saskatoon Hilltops 11 Langley Rams 6
2023 Saskatoon Hilltops 17 Westshore Rebels 10

Armadale Cup Championships

Year Champion Finalist
1978 Saskatoon Hilltops 24 Ottawa Sooners 4
1985 Saskatoon Hilltops 29 Ottawa Sooners 11

Leader-Post Trophy Championships

Touchdown in the October 10, 2008, playoff game
Year Champion Finalist
1953 Saskatoon Hilltops 34 Windsor AKO Fratmen 6
1958 Saskatoon Hilltops 18 Notre-Dame-de-Grace Maple Leafs 14
1959 Saskatoon Hilltops 46 Toronto NK Knights 7
1968 Saskatoon Hilltops 27 Ottawa Sooners 19
1969 Saskatoon Hilltops 28 Ottawa Sooners 7

Executive committee members and directors

[18]

Position Holder
President Rod Janzen
President Elect Greg Peacock
Past President Chris Hengen-Braun
Vice President Kim Wudrick
Team Manager Kim Wudrick
Treasurer Garrett Ferguson
Secretary Stacey Ostertag
Operational Directors Walt Smith/Janice Kozun/Ian Miller/Jeff Shyluk

Coaching staff

Position Holder
Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Tom Sargeant
Quarterbacks Shane Reider
Running Backs Andre Lalonde
Defensive Backs Brent Turkington
Offensive Line Donnie Davidsen
Offensive Line Assistant Ben Hodson
Defensive Line David Fisher
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Jeff Yausie
Receivers Barclay Schlosser
Receivers Assistant Evan Turkington
Life Coach Bruce Rempel

References

  1. ^ Zary, Darren (November 17, 2019), "Saskatoon Hilltops do it again, win 6th straight Canadian Bowl title", The StarPhoenix, retrieved November 18, 2019
  2. ^ Piller, Thomas (Nov 8, 2014), "Hilltops win national championship", Global News, retrieved November 8, 2014
  3. ^ Zary, Darren (November 17, 2017), "Saskatoon Hilltops do the fourpeat, win fourth straight Canadian Bowl", The StarPhoenix, retrieved November 18, 2018
  4. ^ Tiel, Marissa (November 17, 2018), "Langley Rams capture Cullen Cup", Kelowna Capital News, retrieved November 17, 2018
  5. ^ Zary, Darren (November 17, 2018), "Saskatoon Hilltops hammer Langley Rams to claim fifth straight Canadian Bowl", The StarPhoenix, retrieved November 17, 2018
  6. ^ Mitchell, Kevin (September 7, 2019), "Hilltops stretch streak to 23 with last minute victory over Regina", The StarPhoenix, retrieved November 17, 2019
  7. ^ Zary, Darren (November 21, 2019), "Hilltops say goodbye to 15 graduating players, and possibly more", The StarPhoenix, retrieved November 22, 2019
  8. ^ Zary, Darren (October 25, 2019), "Saskatoon Hilltops field 10 PFC all-stars, get set to host PFC final against Edmonton Huskies", The StarPhoenix, retrieved November 22, 2019
  9. ^ Zary, Darren (November 14, 2019), "Five things to know about the 2019 Canadian Bowl", The StarPhoenix, retrieved November 22, 2019
  10. ^ Ryan, Watters (November 15, 2019), "CJFL Major Awards", Canadian Junior Football League, retrieved November 22, 2019
  11. ^ Pankovich, Jim (June 8, 2020), CJFL Special Announcement, Canadian Junior Football League, retrieved November 12, 2023
  12. ^ Gray, Britton (Nov 11, 2023), "Hilltops on top once again: Saskatoon wins Canadian Bowl", 980 CJME, retrieved November 11, 2023
  13. ^ Roblin, Scott (November 11, 2023), Saskatoon Hilltops claim program's 23rd Canadian Bowl title over Westshore Rebels, retrieved November 11, 2023
  14. ^ Roblin, Scott (November 9, 2023), "Canadian Bowl national championship game awaits undefeated Saskatoon Hilltops", Global News, retrieved November 12, 2023
  15. ^ Drewry, Brian (November 12, 2023), "Hilltops fend off Rebels to claim Canadian Bowl to claim Canadian Bowl Crown", Victoria Times-Colonist, retrieved November 12, 2023
  16. ^ Zary, Darren (November 12, 2023), "Back on top Hilltops crowned Canadian Bowl champions with win over Westshore", Star-Phoenix, retrieved November 12, 2023
  17. ^ Steinke, Darren (November 24, 2018), "Hilltops' fifth years hammer home "drive for five" – Stanks' Sermon", Saskatoon Hilltops, pp. Results–Recap, retrieved November 24, 2018
  18. ^ "2023 Directors, Executive Committee". Saskatoon Hilltops. Retrieved 13 November 2023.