Huskies-Thunderbirds battle in non-conference matchup

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Nicole Betker

August 21, 2013, Saskatoon, SK (ISN) – For the sixth straight season, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies will use a non-conference matchup to prep for everything CIS football will throw at them.

This season, the Huskies will host Canada West-foe the UBC Thunderbirds Friday at Griffiths Stadium in PotashCorp Park. Huskie football is presented by Concorde Group.

“UBC is a team with big potential for the 2013 season,” said Huskie head coach Brian Towriss, who enters his 30th season at the helm. “This game is a great way to get players on both sides of the ball in game situations and get a live look at special teams.”

Saskatchewan will look to create sparks with a veteran receiving corps and work out kinks of a new, untested defence, while UBC will look for experience for an unproven quarterback and reps for a young defensive unit.

Coming off an injury riddled 2012 season, the Thunderbirds are eager to get back to the form that saw them reach the Hardy Cup Championship in 2011. After a 0-4 start to 2012, the ‘Birds went 2-2 in their final four games of the year to finish 2-6.

UBC’s offence will be led by 2012 Canada West rushing leader Brandon Deschamps, but will have a new quarterback under centre after the departure of former Hec Crighton Trophy Winner Billy Greene. Fourth year pivot Carson Williams and junior transfer Greg Bowcott, who led the Langley Rams to a BC Junior Football Championship and a berth in the Canadian Bowl, will battle Friday to secure the starting spot for the T-Birds.

Defensively the ‘Birds are led by linebacker Vivie Bojilov and defensive back Bryan Rideout. The UBC defense will be under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Jerry Friesen.

Unlike in the previous two years, Saskatchewan’s strength will be an experienced receiving corps. 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.

Although, Hillis and Stevens are unlikely to play in the non-conference match, new receivers, such as top Saskatchewan recruit Mitch Hillis and the 2012 Prairie Football Conference Outstanding Receiver Kyle McGinnis will see some reps.

Adding experience to the Huskies’ lineup on both sides of the ball will be three-time Canadian Junior Football League champion Saskatoon Hilltops’ transfers Michael Waldron (DB), Dylan Kemp (LB), Clayton Sarich (DL) and Mat Leung (OL). CJFL All-Canadian from the Regina Thunder Mark Ingram will also make an impact in the secondary.

Kick off is set for 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets are available online at huskies.usask.ca or by calling 306-966-1111. The game can be heard live on CK750 or www.ck750.com. It can also be viewed on www.canadawest.tv.

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