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Recent Saskatoon Hilltops News

CFL Invitational Combine

By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters) 02/07/2023, 6:00pm PST

Five CJFL players get an invite

With the CFL Draft on the radar of general managers, coaches and player personnel, the roster for the upcoming CFL Invitational Combine was released on Tuesday with five players with CJFL experience making the cut. 

The Combine will take place on Friday March 3rd in Waterloo, Ontario as these players hope to win an invitation to the National Combine which is scheduled from March 22-26 in Edmonton. The CFL Draft is slated for Tuesday May 2nd. 

The CFL Invitational Combine will take place at Feridun Hamdullahpur Field House at the University of Waterloo with players from across Canada participating. The top draft-eligible players identified in the Invitational Combine will earn their way to the main event in Edmonton.

The Invitational Combine replaces the traditional regional combines which happened three times a year.

A total of five CJFL players will make their way to Waterloo, all with outstanding experience earning their invitation.

DL Donovan Burgmaier last played for the Edmonton Huskies in 2017 and was named an All-Canadian.  During that season he had six sacks, 16 solo tackles and two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown. 

LB Shawn Charles played for the Ottawa Sooners in 2022 and was named an All-Canadian. He compiled 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks, had an interception, blocked two kicks, forced a pair of fumbles, and recovered one for a touchdown. 

WR Jared Hayes-Williams has been one of the main play makers for the St. Clair Saints over his tenue there.  Last season he was named a First-Team All-Canadian after making 33 receptions for 617 yards and had six touchdowns helping the Saints to their perfect regular season. 

LB Jadyn Pingue was named the CJFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 as a member of the Saskatoon Hilltops.   That season he collected 29 tackles, had seven assists, had a knockdown, a fumble recovery and intercepted a pass. 

WR/KR Mike O’Shea was simply outstanding for the Okanagan Sun in 2022 on their championship run.  He was named a double All-Canadian in two different positions.  First as a receiver he hauled in 28 passes for 483 yards and had eight touchdowns.  He scored an extremely important touchdown in the Canadian Bowl to swing the momentum. As a kick returner, he ran back 58 kicks for 1,011 yards and had three more touchdowns. 

Good luck to these five players with CJFL experience at the Invitational Combine.

 

A Look Back at 2022

By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters) 12/31/2022, 11:00am PST

CJFL teams give their favourite moment of 2022

As the calendar closes the 2022 chapter, a handful of CJFL teams look back and remember one of the moments that defined their season.  Happy New Year from our CJFL family. 

Okanagan Sun: winning the 2022 Canadian Bowl brought the CJFL tile back to Kelowna for the first time in 22 seasons.  The impressive come-from-behind 21-19 victory in Regina turned out to be one of the most exciting Canadian Bowls in CJFL history.  It was the first franchise win for the Sun in the Prairies and second straight title for the BC Conference while on the road. 

Regina Thunder: the Prairie Conference champion Thunder had several exciting moments of 2022 including hosting the Canadian Bowl and they were the recipient of the first Rick Smoke team award showing outstanding community service.  However, the true spirit of the Regina community was on display during their Conference semi-final when they hosted the Winnipeg Rifles.  After a massive snowstorm Leibel Field was left unattended so players, coaches, parents, and fans had to grab their shovels and snowblowers to clear the field and get it into game ready condition.  It was an incredible undertaking, but the teamwork displayed truly defined their 2022 season. 

Ottawa Sooners: CJFL football returned to the nation’s capital in 2022 as the Sooners finished third in the Ontario Conference, qualifying for the Canadian Bowl playoffs.  One of their favourite moments came in Week 3 of the season when they travelled to Hamilton to face the Hurricanes for the first time since 2019.  Their seven-point road win was highlighted by an 85-yard defensive touchdown after a strip sack.  That play showed the toughness of their defence which made them a legitimate contender and put them on track for #4 on the CJFL Power Rankings. 

Valley Huskers: in Chilliwack the Valley Huskers were a difficult team to play against in 2022 as they finished the regular season with a 7-3 overall record and qualified for the CJFL Canadian Bowl playoffs.  Their running attack was outstanding led by the 1000-yard rusher Reece Wyke behind a big, nasty offensive line.  Quarterback Josh Janssen was solid and had a career game at the VI Raiders in September where he threw for 416 yards on 26 completions and threw eight touchdown passes. That said, their most memorable moment of the past season was the fact they were able to sweep their closest rivals the Langley Rams for the first time in franchise history with scores of 14-7 and 23-22. 

Saskatoon Hilltops: all season long the Saskatoon Hilltops were electrified by CJFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Charles Sawi.  On a team that doesn’t often play their rookies, Sawi was an exception at the receiver spot and returning kicks.  As a matter of fact, it was one of his exciting returns that is the team’s moment of 2022.  Against their provincial rivals, the Regina Thunder on September 10th at SMF Field, Sawi caught a missed field goal and quickly turned the tide with a highlight reel return, sprinting 125-yards the other direction for a touchdown in the rain.  

Langley Rams: coming into the 2022 season the Langley Rams were the defending Canadian Bowl champions and were able to collect their “hardware” as the players were presented with their championship rings.  On the field in Week 6 of the season receiver Terrel Jones made an incredible catch against the Valley Huskers on a tip on their last drive of the game.  The bench and crowd erupted following their play of the year.  

Hamilton Hurricanes: even before the team got on the field for the regular season the Hamilton Hurricanes’ players and coaches got an opportunity to stay overnight at Redeemer University in Ancaster Ontario which created a very strong team bond and gave them an identity coming out of training camp. 

Winnipeg Rifles: this past season the Winnipeg Rifles made some huge strides with their play on the field. There was no bigger moment for them in 2022 then on August 28 when they hosted and finally beat the Saskatoon Hilltops 19-16.  Quarterback Bryson McNeil completed 26 passes for 295 yards and set up kicker Donovan Downing to boot four fields, including two in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.  Their defence was outstanding and frustrated the Hilltops offence all afternoon.  

Kamloops Broncos: on September 17th the Kamloops Broncos hammered the Prince George Kodiaks 47-17 recording their first home win of the season and showed the hometown faithful a glimpse of a very promising future.   They were led by a pair of 17-year-olds on both sides of the ball.  Defensive back Keagan Curtis finished with an impressive three interceptions while on the offensive side receiver Colton Meikle set a franchise record with 222 yards on five receptions and scored three touchdowns.  Quarterback Reid Vankoughnett had a career game accounting for six touchdowns, three rushing majors and three TD passes.   The Broncos were able to carry that momentum into the following week when they beat the Kodiaks again for a two game winning streak. 

CJFL Major Award Winners

By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters) 11/11/2022, 6:45pm PST

The best of the best from 2022

The Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) is proud to announce their Outstanding Player Award winners for the 2022 season.  The awards were handed out Friday night at the Celebration of Excellence in Regina, SK.

The award winners are:

Gordon Currie Coach of the Year
Scott MacAulay – Regina Thunder – for the second straight season Scott is named the Gordon Currie Coach of the Year after leading his club to a 10-0 record and has his team back in the Canadian Bowl for the first time since 2013.

Offensive Rookie of the Year
Receiver/Returner – Charles Sawi – Saskatoon Hilltops
As a rookie on a storied franchise he carried the ball 25 times for 224 yards and had two touchdowns.  He also returned five missed field gaols for 271 yards and one incredible 125 yard touchdown return

Defensive Rookie of the Year
Linebacker Zachary Chaddock – Hamilton Hurricanes
He blasted into the Ontario Conference with 36 tackles, 10 assisted stops, half a sack, had an interception, 2 knockdowns, 2 forced fumbles and had a fumble recovery

Special Teams Player of the Year
Kicker AJ Williamson – London Beefeaters
He booted a CJFL high 19 field goals including his longest of 49 yards and connected on 21 of 22 convert attempts.  He also punted the ball 49 times, collecting four singles and averaged 33.6 yards each kick

Larry Wruck Outstanding Defensive Player
Linebacker Konner Johnson – Saskatoon Hilltops
He led the stingiest Prairie Conference defence with 31 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 knockdowns and 4 interceptions

Peter Dalla Riva Outstanding Offensive Player
Quarterback Te Jessie – Westshore Rebels
He led the Rebels offensively completing 169 of 305 passes for 2864 yards and 28 touchdowns

CJFL Past Commissioners Award
OL Kevin Ricard – London Beefeaters

CJFL Stewart MacDonald Executive of the Year
Craig Briere – Prince George Kodiaks 

CJFL Life Member
Sue Fournier – Westshore Rebels

Rick Smoke Community Involvement Award
Regina Thunder

The 114th Canadian Bowl will kick-off Saturday November 12, at 1:00pm at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK

BROADCAST INFO
Watch the pay per view Canadian Bowl broadcast HERE