PREVIEW: Huskies’ title defence begins Friday

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A trip to Winnipeg is ahead for a University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team that will be aiming to begin their defence of the Hardy Cup Championship on the right foot.

After two weeks of training camp capped off by the Green & White scrimmage, there is a different feeling in the air around Griffiths Stadium than in years past, as the squad that shocked western Canada last season was recently ranked No. 4 in the nation in the first iteration of the U SPORTS Top 10.

Despite being picked sixth in last year’s Canada West coaches preseason poll, Saskatchewan posted a stellar season as they finished 5-3 before going on to capture the program’s first Hardy Cup since 2006 thanks to a pair of road playoff wins. The Huskies enter 2019 looking to secure the program’s first home playoff date since 2014.

With 20 starters – 10 on offence and 10 on defence – returning the fold, Saskatchewan will be one of the more battle-tested teams in the conference as they look to claim back-to-back Hardy Cup titles for the first time since 2005 and 2006.

These two teams met twice last season with the Huskies twice emerging victorious. In the second week of 2018 Saskatchewan travelled East and knocked off Manitoba 48-46 in Winnipeg. A back-and-forth game was sealed late when Payton Hall returned an interception 90-yards for a touchdown. In stark contrast to the first game, the second meeting between these two teams began as a defensive duel. Tied 4-4 at the half thanks to a pair of safeties recorded by the Huskies, Saskatchewan exploded in the second half to win convincingly by a total of 27-4.

While the Huskies are on the road this week, you can get a sneak peek at the team ahead of the 2019 home opener by joining us for the KPMG Coaches Kick-Off Luncheon with head coach Scott Flory.

2019 HUSKIES SEASON PREVIEW

  • 2018 CW regular season record: 5-3, 3rd in CW
  • 2018 post-season record: 2-1, Hardy Cup champions (Lost to Western in Mitchell Bowl)
  • Head coach: Scott Flory (3rd season) / 7-9 Career CW reg. season record
  • Last Hardy Cup championship / total Hardy Cup championships: 2018 / 19
  • Last Vanier Cup championship / total Vanier Cup championships: 3 / 1998

2019 CFL Draft picks: 

  • DL – Evan Machibroda – Edmonton Eskimos
  • LB – Ben Whiting – Montreal Alouettes

2018 CW regular season ranks:

  • Points for: 32.3 PPG, 2nd in CW
  • Total offence: 492.6 YPG, 2nd in CW
  • Points against: 21.8 PPG, 2nd in CW
  • Total defence: 419.9 YPG, 2nd in CW

2018 CW regular season leaders:

  • Passing yards: 2117 – Kyle Siemens, QB
  • Rushing yards: 640 – Tyler Chow, RB
  • Receiving yards: 676 – Colton Klassen, REC
  • All-purpose yards: 981 – Colton Klassen, REC
  • Tackles: 44 – Ben Whiting, LB
  • Sacks: 7 – Tristian Koronkiewicz, DL
  • Interceptions: 3 – Nelson Lokombo, DB and Josh Hagerty, DB

Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):

  • Josh Ewanchyna / RB / 2 / Saskatoon, SK / Saskatoon Hilltops
  • Kalin Betts / OL / 1 / Lethbridge, AB / Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams
  • Ramsey Derbas / LB / 1 / Saskatoon, SK / Holy Cross Crusaders
  • Nicholas Dheilly / DL / 3 / Regina, SK / Okanagan Sun
  • Connor Delahey / LB / 1 / Saskatoon, SK / BJM Saints

Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):

Key offensive performer:

  • Mason Nyhus
  • Quarterback
  • 3rd-year
  • Regina, SK

After waiting in the wings behind all-time Huskie great Kyle Siemens for the last two seasons, Nyhus will get the chance to take over as the starting pivot for the reigning Hardy Cup champion Huskies. The former U-19 International Federation of American Football champion with Team Canada has seen action in each of the past two seasons, completing 49 of 65 passes for 691 yards and five touchdowns.

Key defensive performer:

  • Evan Machibroda
  • Defensive lineman
  • 5th-year
  • Saskatoon, SK

2018 U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian and Canada West All-Star, Evan Machibroda returns to the Huskies for his fifth and final year of eligibility after being selected in the fifth round of the CFL Draft by the Edmonton Eskimos. A factor both pass rushing and stopping the run, Machibroda clogs up the middle of the line for the Huskies and has 76 tackles, 14 for a loss and 10 sacks over the last three seasons.

2019 CW FOOTBALL PRESEASON COACHES POLL
Team – Points (First-place votes)

  1. Calgary Dinos – 25 (5)
  2. Saskatchewan Huskies – 21 (1)
  3. Manitoba Bisons – 15
  4. UBC Thunderbirds – 14
  5. Alberta Golden Bears – 8
  6. Regina Rams – 7

NOTE: Coaches ranked all opponents 1-5. First-place votes worth 5 pts., second-place worth 4 pts. etc