Photos courtesy of Louis Christ Photography and Joanna Kurowski Photography
For the first time since 2012 the Hilltops and Beefeaters will match up in the CJFL National Semi-Final game, however the venue has changed. Seven years ago the Hilltops hosted the Beefeaters on the frozen tundra of the Geordie Howe Bowl and cruised to a 51-7 victory. Fast forward to this weekend and the Beefeaters will now host the Hilltops at beautiful TD Waterhouse Stadium, also the home of the Western Mustangs.
On paper this is a David vs. Goliath game with the five time defending champions invading the home of the Beefeaters who have never won a game on the national stage.
The Hilltops blew through the Prairie Conference regular season and playoffs without losing a game. As a matter of fact they have not lost since the 2017 season. The Beefeaters meanwhile finished 6-2 and have won two road playoff games to get to this point.
The biggest question for the Beefeaters is can they stop the Hilltops run game featuring a 1,000 yard rusher in Ben Abrook? He has been virtually unstoppable thus far gaining 1215 yards on 199 carries during the regular season with eight touchdowns. He carried a CJFL playoff record 44 times last week in the Prairie Conference final against the Edmonton Huskies. All that said the Beefeaters did hold teams off the scoreboard, giving up the fewest amount of points in the Ontario Conference averaging 11 a game. The Hilltops meanwhile scored an average of 38.5 a game.
The Beefeaters can also score points in a hurry. They averaged 40.7 a game during the regular season and feature three quality running backs in Tazie Vang-Bell, Felix Noel and Danny Byrne. They combined to gain 1234 yards and 15 touchdowns. However running and scoring points against the Hilltops defence hasn’t been easy this year as they allowed just 15.6 points a game.
The Hilltops last game in Ontario was the 2017 Canadian Bowl when they beat the Windsor AKO Fratmen. They have never visited London and got their first walk through on Friday afternoon. Kick-off is set for 8:00pm EST on Saturday and the forecast calling for main cloudy skiies, a 40% chance of showers and a temperature right around zero.
Head to Head
Records – Hilltops 8-0 – Beefeaters 6-2
Points For – Hilltops 308 – Beefeaters 326
Points Allowed – Hilltops 125 – Beefeaters 87
Passing Leaders – Tyler Hermann – 123 of 192 (64%) 1908 yards, 17 touchdowns (Hilltops) – Clarke McCallum – 74 of 135 (55%), 1250 yards, 11 touchdowns (Beefeaters)
Rushing Leaders – Ben Abrook – 199 carries for 1215 yards, 8 touchdowns (Hilltops) – Danny Byrne – 57 carries for 465 yards, 4 touchdowns (Beefeaters)
Receiving Leaders – Connor Graham – 28 receptions for 599 yards, 6 touchdowns (Hilltops) – Tazie Vang-Bell – 17 receptions for 348 yards, 3 touchdowns (Beefeaters)
Leading Tacklers – Riley Keating – 34 tackles (Hilltops) – Tanner Gaskill-Cadwallader – 16 tackles (Beefeaters)
Turnovers – Hilltops +14 – Beefeaters +5
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