Canadian Bowl 2016

The Westshore Rebels came in with the Canadian Junior Football League’s most outstanding player on offence. The Saskatoon Hilltops left with the bigger trophy. Yes, that Canadian Bowl hardware comes back to Saskatoon for the third straight year after the Hilltops handled the host Rebels by a 37-25 count here Saturday in the Canadian Junior Football League final.

When it came down to the running game, a hungry and determined Logan Fischer out-duelled Jamel Lyles, who had set a British Columbia Football Conference record with 1,604 rushing yards in 10 games this season. Although Lyles finished the game with 141 yards on 16 carries, he had just 16 yards in the first half.

“He’s a good player — he’s absolutely phenomenal — (but) when it comes down to it, I guess it’s all about who wants it more,” said Fischer, named the Canadian Bowl offensive MVP after rushing the ball 28 times for 202 yards and catching two passes for 43 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Fischer has the heart of a lion and it showed Saturday. He was pumped from the get-go. “The emotions come in,” offered Fischer, a fourth-year Hilltop from Saskatoon. “You get flying and you get the energy going. It’s a great feeling.”

It was not always going so great Saturday as the Hilltops appeared to be not only battling the Rebels, but also themselves. Three big turnovers, including a fumble and interception in the end-zone, killed potential TDs for Saskatoon, while another interception resulted in a 66-yard TD return by Rebels defensive lineman Byron MacKinnon. A clipping penalty wiped out another Hilltops’ TD, cancelling out a 54-yard run by Fischer.

In the end, that additional adversity made this victory — and a 19th national title — that much sweeter for the Saskatoon squad. “It’s unreal,” admitted Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant, “just because of circumstance. At the end of the day, they had us compromised. They had momentum, but we just believed, we stayed together and we figured it out.”

Hilltops linebacker Cody Peters, who had nine defensive tackles and two special team stops, was awarded the game’s defensive MVP. “The feeling is surreal,” said Peters. “It feels phenomenal.”

Ewanchyna, with a 105-yard kickoff return and a nine-yard TD run, also scored a pair of majors for Saskatoon. “An unbelievable feeling,” said Ewanchyna. “I couldn’t imagine anything greater than life. Two touchdowns is very unexpected for me. I just wanted to do my part in this game.” Jason Price capped off the scoring with a 48-yard TD catch on a throw from Jared Andreychuk.

Byron MacKinnon got his paws on an ill-fated screen pass by Andreychuk for Westshore’s first TD. The Rebels added a second major on a one-yard plunge by quarterback Ashton MacKinnon, Byron’s brother. They added another on a one-yard dive by backup quarterback Devoun Hallums. Kyle Clarke added a 34-yard field goal in the first half, which ended with the Hilltops up 16-12. Each team has conceded a safety touch.

“If we would have played a perfect game, who knows what would have happened, but we battled adversity,” added Ewanchyna. “We make our own mistakes, but we have the heart and soul to come back and come out with the win.”

Saskatoon racked up 480 yards in total net offence, including 298 rushing yards. Andreychuk — playing his final junior game as a Hilltop — completed 10 of 15 passes for 220 yards and three TDs. Westshore had 401 yards in net offence, including 238 yards on the ground and 192 yards passing.

“They did a great job of containing Jamel,” said second-year Rebels’ head coach J.C. Boice. “But all the credit to the Hilltops. They’re great kids. They played hard and fast. They won the game. Congratulations to them. “Watching them on film and seeing them live, what a great program. The province of Saskatchewan should be very, very proud. I’m incredibly proud of our kids, as well.”

Andreychuk also threw an interception in the end-zone and Adam Machart fumbled on the goal-line for the Hilltops late in the first half to snuff out drives. “We were against ourselves in the first half,” said graduating fifth-year Hilltops offensive lineman Drayke Unger. “We should have least scored 24, but, hey, that’s football. We came back and fought and, at the end of the day, we come back home national champions.”

Courtesy Darren Zary - Saskatoon Star Phoenix



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