Story and images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
Erich Eichhorn (ISN) – The Langley Rams fell short in their bid for a Canadian Junior Football Championship as the Prairie Conference champion Saskatoon Hilltops defeated the Rams 39-14 for the second time in three years Saturday afternoon at MacLeod Athletic Park, in Langley, BC.
Hilltops Nathan Heide lifts the spoils of a National Championship as his team soundly defeated the Langley Rams 39-14. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Almost two years to the date, the Langley Rams football team took defeat on the chin from the same Saskatoon Hilltops in a nail biting finish that saw the CJFL Canadian Bowl Championship slip away from them in a 23-21 fourth period loss.
The Saskatoon Hilltops reclaim the CJFL national title, winning for an unprecedented 18th time – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Looking to right the ship of 2012, the Rams challenge was no less daunting this time in 2014 as the Rams had to contend with an All-Canadian offensive and defensive line of the Hilltops. The Rams, boasting their own Canadian best defensive linemen in Dylan Roper, Alex Agnoletto, and rookie of the year linebacker Ethan Schulz, would need to be up to the Hilltops’ challenge. The Hilltops came into the final winning the last 8 games, and boasting 16 National Championships. The last win, in 2012, capping a three-peat as national champions. The Rams, coming off an upset BCFC finals win against the Okanagan Sun, were making their third appearance at the national level, but had yet to win a national title.
Rams Daniel English learns first hand how tough the Hilltops defense is. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Despite the tight game of two years past, history was not to duplicate itself, as Saskatoon would run away with the score early, as the Rams would slide down a slippery Hilltops slope to defeat.
Rams lineman Adam Marchetti ponders what is and what could have been – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca)
“We just brought our passion and inspiration to the game. Langley is a physical, aggressive football team but our coaches figured out what we needed to do. We stumbled a bit in the beginning, but we always strived to get better. This is the best game we’ve played this year against the best team we’ve faced all year, “ said Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant.
Rams wide reciever Jacob Carvery couldn’t hurdle the Hilltops defense in DB Derek Sadownick – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Hilltops would set the tone early, dominating the game from the opening kickoff. The Rams, on their second possession of the game would suffer a Nathan Lund fumble at their own 22-yard line that the Hilltops would recover. Taking advantage of the gift, Hilltops QB Jared Andreychuk, would keep the ball and run it into the end zone with a diving touchdown. Andreychuk would finish the game with 458 yards passing, going 17-27 in pass completions.
Hilltops QB Jared Andreychuk would deliver the ball masterfully all game, controlling the distribution of the ball. Andreychuk would finish with 458 yards passing – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Undisciplined Rams play would plague the team, giving up 50 yards in the first half, and a game total 124 negative yards over 15 penalties keeping the home team near midfield most of the game. The Rams would also be turned aside by the stingy defense of the Hilltops four times on 3rd down conversion gambles that resulted in a turn over of the ball and field position to the Hilltops.
A Nathun Lund fumble set the tone early as Hilltops Dylan Larsen pulls in the loose ball. The Hilltops would score two plays later – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
After a conceded Rams single point gave the Hilltops an 8-0 lead, Rams QB Jordan McCarthy would find an open Malcolm Williams midfield. Williams would break free of a few Hilltops tacklers on his way to the endzone to put his team near with a 8-7 score. That would be the closest the home team would get as the Hilltops would put the next seventeen points on the board courtesy of a field goal, a 14 yard touchdown run by Logan Fischer after a McCarthy-thrown interception, and Evan Kopchynski touchdown also courtesy of QB Andreychuk. Both teams would go to the locker room at the half with a score in favour of the Hilltops 25-7.
Hilltops Logan Fischer runs for 14 yards on his way to a touch down – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Rams would elect to go with backup QB Dylan Tucker in the third quarter after an apparent injury to McCarty would sideline the starting QB.
Backup Dylan Tucker would get the nodd in the third quarter, finding Malcom Williams breaking on the ball behind the Hilltops defense – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
McCarty would finish the game going 9/17 in pass completions for 154 yards, and one interception. Rams backup Tucker would fair slightly better at 20/24 for 232 yards passing.
The Saskatoon Hilltops’ receiver Evan Turkington, would put the game out of reach in the second half, finding success using his size in front of the Rams secondary, taking Andreychuk-thrown passes in full stride twice, splitting the defense and running for a pair of touchdowns. Rams Dylan Tucker would throw for a late major when Malcolm Williams would climb the ladder in the back of the end zone to pull down the ball, keeping his feet inbounds to make it count. Time would expire, giving the Saskatoon Hilltops the Championship with a 39-14 win and their 17th National title.
Hilltops defense made it hard for the Rams to find open space on the field. Rams Malcolm Williams is tackled mid air.- Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Rams big reciever Malcolm Williams made his presence known in the second half finding most of his teams recieving success. Williams would score both of his Rams team’s touchdowns in the loss – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Post game, when Rams head coach Jeff Alamolhoda was asked about what the Hilltops did to run away with the win he would comment, “ It wasn’t what they did, but what we didn’t do. We came out early and showed big game jitters for a inexperienced, young team, turned the ball over, had fumbles and turn the ball over. That’s what can cause you to go down early, and you can’t do that against the Hilltops. We showed the fight back but ran out of time. We weren’t able to control the line of scrimmage, which was a key factor. All we can do go into the off-season, work harder, and do it again next year.”
The game was out of reach early as the Hilltops would control the line of scrimmage and downfield Rams recievers as shown here with this ball going for an incomplete – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Hilltops 3rd year receiver Evan Turkington would be named the Canadian Bowl MVP for his second half performance. This was his second Canadian Bowl appearance. His first being in 2012 as a freshman waiting his turn on the sidelines.