From long returns to incredible catches, Ryan Watters countdowns the Top 10 CJFL Plays of the Year
Williams photo from Johany Jutras
This Sunday the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts square off in the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa and the CJFL will be very well represented.
In all, nine players with CJFL experience will be part of Sunday’s title game.
The West Division champion Stampeders have five former CJFL players including Dexter Janke (Okanagan Sun), Rob Maver (Burlington Braves), Spencer Wilson (Calgary Colts, Okanagan Sun), Rob Cote (Westshore Rebels) and Rory Kohlert (Regina Thunder).
The East Division champion Argos have four former CJFL players including Malcolm Williams and Evan Foster (Langley Rams), Jermaine Gabriel (Calgary Colts) and Llevi Noel (Windsor AKO Fratmen).
Some players may play a larger role than others on Sunday, but the one thing they each have in common is the fact they are proud alumni of the Canadian Junior Football League.
The Canadian Junior Football League provides the opportunity for young men aged 17 to 22 to participate in highly competitive post-high school football that is unique in Canada. The goal of the league is to foster community involvement and yield a positive environment by teaching discipline, perseverance and cooperation. The benefits of the league are strong camaraderie, national competition and life-long friends.
The Saskatoon Hilltops are the first ever CJFL team to win four consecutive Canadian Bowls after a 56-11 victory over the Windsor AKO Fratmen on Saturday afternoon.
The Hilltops took advantage of turnovers and penalties. They forced 10 Fratmen turnovers including intercepting quarterback Brandon Reaume three times, twice by Defensive Player of the Game Luke Melnyk. Cameron Schnitzler also picked off a pass and returned it 33 yards.
The Fratmen were penalized 13 times for 124 yards.
Offensively the Hilltops were led by the Offensive Player of the Game quarterback Jordan Walls, making his first Canadian Bowl start. He finished 11 of 18 for 192 yards and threw three touchdown passes. Two of the majors were caught by Ryan Turple, the other by defensive lineman Tom Schnitzler. Walls also rushed for a 32 yard touchdown.
On the ground the Hilltops used their strong offensive line to breakdown the Fratmen defence with 37 carries for 188 yards. Josh Ewanchyna scored two touchdowns on a pair of short runs off of six carries. In his final CJFL game Logan Fischer carried a game high 14 times for 80 yards.
The swarming Hilltops defence was led by Schnitzler and Cody Peters who each had four tackles while Riley Pickett and Schnitzler each had a sack.
As for the Fratmen, they were playing in their first Canadian Bowl since 1999 and looked nervous to open the game. The second play from scrimmage the ball was snapped over Reaume’s head and throughout the game balls were dropped or mishandled.
Once Reaume settled in he did have some success. He finished 12 of 24 for 197 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Devon Woods. He also rushed 12 times for 71 yards.
Running back D’Angelo Knox had a strong effort with seven carries for 37 yards and caught two passes for 104 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball Adam Chin and Quinten Earhart each recorded nine tackles. Earhart and Pren Duhanaj both had a sack. The lone turnover was a fumble that Ishmael Johnson picked up and ran back 26 yards.
With their victory on Saturday the Hilltops claim their 20th Canadian Bowl title, more than any other team in CJFL history.
The 111th Canadian Bowl in 2018 will be hosted by the winner of the Prairie Conference on November 10, 2018. The Prairie winner will welcome the winner of the CJFL National Semi-Final game between the winners of the BC Conference and Ontario Conference. The National Semi-Final will take place in BC.