August 14, 2013, Saskatoon, SK (ISN) – Known for an experienced defence in the last two seasons, it will be the veteran presence on offence that will turn heads for the University of Saskatchewan Huskie football team in 2013.
The Huskies, who finished 5-3 and third in the Canada West standings in 2012, return 10 starters on offence including second-year quarterback Drew Burko, fourth-year All-Canadian wide receiver Kit Hillis, CFL draft pick Charlie Power at slot back and three fifth-year receivers in Mitch Stevens, Garrett Burgess and Jeff Moore.
2012 regular season record: 5-3
2012 regular season standings: 3rd Canada West
2012 playoff record: 0-1
2012 playoff finish: Lost 31-9 to Regina Rams in Canada West semifinal
Battling a hand injury, Burko played in six games in his first CIS season garnering attention by completing 96-of-147 passes for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns. The five Burko targets combined for 1,715 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Huskies will have a different look in the backfield and on the defensive line. Saskatchewan lost six starters including CFL draft pick defensive end Levi Steinhauer and CIS all-time interceptions leader Bryce McCall at safety. The Huskies will look to fifth-year lineman Zach Hart and Joel Seutter to help ensure the rest of the inexperienced defence gels to give the team success.
Quote from head coach:
We have big potential. With a great veteran presence, lots of playmakers on offence and a solid line of scrimmage, we should be a contender in the balanced Canada West. We will look to finish as one of the top two teams in the conference and win the Hardy Cup. Our goal is to return to national prominence.
-Brian Towriss, 30th Year
– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2013): 30
– Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2013): 30
– Career regular season record with team: 148-83-1
– Career regular season record in CIS: 148-83-1
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 176-101-1
– Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 176-101-1 *
* broke CIS wins record in 2011
Number of returning starters: 10
Key returning players:
CIS First Team All-Canadian wide receiver Kit Hillis will once again be the main target on offence. The fourth-year Business student led the Canada West with 57 receptions for 797 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012, setting school records in receptions in a single game and in a season.
Despite missing two games to injury, quarterback Drew Burko turned heads in his first CIS season. The second generation Huskie completed 96-of-147 passes for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Joining the Huskies in 2013, offensive lineman Lane Bryksa made a big impact playing in seven games. The 6-5, 265 pound guard represented Saskatchewan at the East-West Bowl in May.
Suffering a season-ending injury in non-conference action in 2012, Dexter Janke will be ready for starting tailback duties. In 2011, Janke recorded 307 rushing yards and four touchdowns in shared playing time.
Key recruits (or newcomers; transfers):
Touted as one of the top receivers to come out of Saskatchewan in years, Mitch Hillis will join his older brother, Kit, on the Huskies’ receiving corps. The Saskatoon high school product led the Holy Cross Crusaders to a second straight city championship in 2012, tallying 20 receptions for 799 yards and 10 touchdowns in the season.
Offensive lineman Matt Leung joins the Huskies after winning the 2012 Canadian Bowl with the Saskatoon Hilltops. The 6-4, 310 pound tackle was named a Prairie Football Conference All-Star and a Canadian Junior Football League All-Canadian in 2012.
Slot back Braeden George was a reliable receiver for the Huskies in the last five seasons. Finishing eligibility in 2012, George caught 80 receptions for 1,016 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.
Number of returning starters: 6
Key returning players:
Looked at for leadership, defensive tackle Zach Hart will return to the Huskies for his final season. Injured throughout 2012, the two-time Canada West all-star finished the season with 13 tackles and one sack.
Flanking the Huskies’ defensive end is fifth-year Joel Seutter. The experienced lineman finished 2012 with 33 tackles and a team-high six sacks.
Canada West all-star Braxton Lawrence returns at halfback to give the Huskies stability in the secondary. In 2012, the former CJFL champion tallied 29.5 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Key recruits (or newcomers: transfers):
Defensive back Mark Ingram was named a PFC all-star with the Regina Thunder in 2012 after recording two interceptions, a fumble recovery and 21 tackles.
Saskatchewan will welcome three Saskatoon Hilltops on defence in Michael Waldron, Dylan Kemp, and Clayton Sarich, all three were named PFC All-Stars in 2012. Waldron forced and recovered two fumbles and had one interception to go along with 25 tackles in the 2012 campaign. Kemp was second on the team in tackles last season with 27 and added seven more on special teams. Sarich, a hard-nosed defensive tackle, will look to add toughness up front for the Huskies.
Replacing the CIS all-time interceptions leader Bryce McCall at safety won’t be an easy task for the Huskies. The defensive captain finished his five-year CIS career with 21 interceptions and 172 tackles.
One of three losses to the defensive line, tackle David Rybinski recorded 58.5 tackles and 12.5 sacks in his five-year CIS career.
Defensive end and long snapper Levi Steinhauer moved to the CFL in 2013 after the Saskatchewan Roughriders selected the Moose Jaw, Sask., native 40th overall in the entry draft in May.
Key returning players:
Kicker Denton Kolodzinski returns to punting duties for the Huskies after recording 2,711 yards on 68 kicks in 2012.
Punt returner/defensive back Luke Thiel left the roster after four seasons to pursue a career in the medicine. Thiel had 315 yards on 38 punts in 2012, as well as added 35 tackles in the defensive backfield.