The Saskatoon Hilltops could not be topped in 2023.
Saskatoon punctuated a perfect season by outlasting the Westshore Rebels 17-10 on Saturday to win a 23rd Canadian Junior Football League title.
Boston Davidsen, the Canadian Bowl’s offensive player of the game, led the Hilltops’ offence with 157 rushing yards and one touchdown at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C.
“It means a lot to win this game because of the teammates I have alongside me,” Davidsen told Riderville.com after a rain-soaked game concluded on Vancouver Island.
“There’s no group of guys I’d rather do it with.”
In 2023, Saskatoon won all 12 of its games — including four post-season contests — while outscoring the opposition 469-76.
Overall, Davidsen rushed for 1,477 yards and 13 TDs.
On Saturday, Hilltops quarterback Trey Reider completed 12 of 20 passes for 172 yards, including a 35-yard TD toss to Noah Flaman, who also had a 44-yard reception.
“Noah Flaman made a couple of great catches for us,” said Reider, who had connected with Flaman for two scores on Oct. 29 in a 43-0, CJFL semi-final victory over the Ontario-based St. Clair Saints at SMF Field in Saskatoon.
Defensively, the Hilltops received a monstrous performance on Saturday from linebacker Matt Wist, who registered two interceptions, nine solo tackles, four assisted tackles and a fumble recovery.
Wist — the Canadian Bowl’s defensive player of the game — notched his third interception, which he returned 30 yards, with 1:54 remaining in the national final. Wist picked off the pass on the Hilltops’ 30-yard line.
“That changed the momentum of the game,” Reider noted.
Wade Keating added six solo tackles (including one for a loss) and four assists. Hilltops linebacking cohort Noah Gedir chipped in with five solo tackles and three assists for the 23-time Prairie Football Conference champions.
Riece Kack, Ben Marce and Jonathon Stevens added sacks for Saskatoon.
“The defence played unbelievably and put us in great spots,” Reider said.
“Our defence was lights-out all year,” Davidsen added, “and that didn’t change today.”
For the British Columbia Football Conference-champion Rebels, Ciaro Berry scored on an 81-yard kickoff return in addition to making eight catches for 102 yards.
C.J. Vincent added eight receptions for 77 yards. Gerren Hardisty was the Rebels’ leading ground gainer, with 91 yards on 18 carries.
In the waning seconds, Westshore advanced into Hilltops territory before a third-down pass was broken up by Jace Mowles on the 20-yard line to secure the victory.
“Overall, it was a great battle,” Reider said, “and the work we put in during the off-season and through the year pushed us to the top.”
Saskatoon has now won 14 national titles under Tom Sargeant, who took over as head coach in 1998.
The team celebrated its first championship in 1953. Since then, it has won in 1958, 1959, 1968, 1969, 1978, 1985, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2023.
- Regina Thunder linebacker Stephen Smith was named the CJFL’s outstanding defensive player on Friday.