Winnipeg Rifles 2017

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No contest. After the usual exhausting road trip to Winnipeg, the Saskatoon Hilltops showed no ill effects by silencing the host Rifles with a dominant 44-0 shutout victory Sunday.When they hopped back on the bus for that gruelling bus ride back, they did so with big smiles on their faces. “Any time you win, it’s worth it,” said Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant, whose three-time reigning Canadian Junior Football League champion squad improved to 2-0 this season in the Prairie Football Conference. “We’ll take it.” Winnipeg, meanwhile, falls to 1-1.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Toppers exploded for 33 points in the second quarter on the way to victory Sunday. “We had a great second quarter where our guys flew around and got after it — that was fun to see,” said Sargeant. “It was pretty windy today, so when the wind flipped around (so did the game). (In the first quarter) offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot. We racked up some yards but we couldn’t finish. In the second quarter, we called better plays and put guys in better spots. We made more plays. When it give you more confidence on offence, that’s a scary thing.”

The Hilltops got a pair of touchdown majors from running back Logan Fischer, who returned to the lineup after being injured a week earlier. Fischer rambled in from a yard and five yards out. Defensive end Tom Schnitzler, who lined up at the tight end position, scored on a two-yard TD pass from Jordan Walls. “I was thinking touchdown the whole time,” Schnitzler told post-game show on The Bull 92.9 FM.Schnitzler also scored a TD on offence last year. “We went to the goal-line set and they (defence) like to cheat a lot and really rally into a spot, so we went over top,” noted Sargeant, adding that he always likes to reward the fifth-year players. “It’s always an exciting moment when the defence scores an offensive touchdown.”

Walls scampered in for a touchdown of his own. He also connected with receiver Jason Price for a nine-yard TD pass. James Vause nailed a 17-yard field goal and five converts. The Rifles conceded three safety touches to round out the scoring and give the visitors six more points on the scoreboard.

“For me, the stars of the game were the offensive line,” said Sargeant. “I thought our offensive line went after it after last week. We coached them hard and we a real response today. Whenever Logan or Adam Machart or Ben Abrook went, there were going to be big holes. Our O-line wore them down.”

The Hilltops return to action this coming Saturday night with their home-opener against the Ontario Football Conference’s Ottawa Sooners in interlocking play at SMF Field in Saskatoon.

“We’re excited,” said Sargeant. “You’ve got the national stage with Ottawa coming our way. It’s our first game at home. We haven’t played at home in a while and we’re going to dress 65 players, so we’re excited for that. We just want to keep building this football team. Some young players got in today and got some great game experience to build their confidence. It’ll be fun to play more games and see where it takes us.”

dzary@postmedia.com

Results

Team1234T
Saskatoon Hilltops----44
Winnipeg Rifles----0