SASKATOON -- After a disappointing and heartbreaking loss on the last play of the game in the Hardy Cup final in 2009, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies enter the new season with just one goal in mind – to be playing on November 27 in Quebec City.
Once again the Huskies, who finished 7-1 in 2009, look to be strong on both sides of the ball. In 2009, the Huskies finished with the best defence in the conference during the regular season allowing their eight opponents to average just 14 points per game, nabbed 17 interceptions and had a conference best 21 sacks. On offence the Huskies scored 211 points with 30 or more in their final six games including playoffs.
Fifth-year veteran quarterback Laurence Nixon, who will look to connect with receivers Travis Gorski, Rory Kohlert and Braeden George, will once again lead the 2010 version of the Huskies offensively. Nixon completed a career high 157-of-251 pass attempts for 1,933 yards. Gorski and George combined for 74 receptions and 888 yards. Second-year running back Jeff Hassler will look to see what he can do with a full season. After injury in fall camp, Hassler returned to play just four regular season games scoring five touchdowns. Returning after a two-year absence from the team will be running back Ben Coakwell. Coakwell had the fastest time in the 40-yard dash out of training camp.
Defensively, the team is led by linebacker Peter Thiel and a very strong secondary. Defensive back Bryce McCall, who has 12 interceptions in two seasons, looks to add to his tally. Zach Hart will continue to be a pain in opposing quarterback’s sides after six sacks last season.
“The coaching staff and players have great anticipation for this season. In my 27 years of coaching, I can’t recall being this excited for a season,” said Huskies head coach Brian Towriss.
“This group of players have worked so hard in the offseason. We all know about our heartbreaking loss at the end of last season. Had we been able to execute one more play in the Hardy Cup, we may have had the chance to compete for a Vanier Cup.”
“We return the nucleus of the 2009 team and we have some other players returning or recruits who will really help us this year. We are fitter and stronger than we have ever been before and I think we have a really solid roster from top to bottom. We expect to do well. We have a tough schedule so we are taking it one game at a time. We certainly think we will be in the mix and I know our players are determined. It’s going to be a good year.”
2009 in review:
2009 regular season record: 7-1
2009 regular season standings: First, Canada West
2009 playoff record: 1-1
2009 playoff finish: Lost to Calgary 39-38 in Hardy Cup Final
Head Coach - Brian Towriss
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2010): 27
- Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2010): 27
- Career regular season record with team: 131-75-1
- Career regular season record in CIS: 131-75-1
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 163-89-1
- Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 163-89-1
Key returning players:
QB Laurence Nixon enters his final year of eligibility. In 2009, Nixon finished completing 157 of 251 passes for 1933 yards and five touchdowns. He has play in the East- West Bowl for the last two years.
R Travis Gorski, a fifth year receiver looks to make an impact in 2010. In 2008, the Medicine Hat native was the team’s MVP. In 2009, he led the Huskies with 467 yards on 43 receptions.
RB Jeff Hassler, after injury in training camp in 2009 Tassler made his first appearance in the Canada West with a bang against UBC. The Edmonton native ended the season with five touchdowns and 367 yards in just four regular season games.
OL Patrick Neufeld, an All-Star on the offensive line in 2009 and 2010 CFL draftee, will become the leader top rotect the quarterback.
RB Dexter Janke was the leading rusher in Edmonton High School football in 2009. He was also the league’s MVP.
QB Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren is an outstanding athlete and will look to learn the lessons that will help him make an impact in the near future.
R Mitch Stevens will enter the CIS after playing junior football with the Saskatoon Hilltops. Stevens, 6-0, 180 pound, finished the 2009 with 34 receptions on 524 yards and five touchdowns.
R Scott McHenry now finds himself snaring balls for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers after five seasons with the Huskies. He finishes his career in the Top 10 in Huskie receiving yards.
OL Hubert Buydens a big presence and a leader on the offensive line last year is lost to graduation.
RB Tyler O’Gorman leaves the team after graduation. The 2009 starter finished the season with 76 carries for 352 yards and five touchdowns. O’Gorman knew how to step up in big games being named the MVP for both the 2006 Hardy Cup and 2006 Mitchell Bowl.
Key returning players:
S Bryce McCall continued to make an impact in the Canada West in his second season. The safety from Regina led the Huskies with 45.5 tackles, seven interceptions and two breakups.
LB Peter Thiel will look to fill any holes in the middle the opposition tries to break through. The third year from Regina will be looked to provide leadership on the defence.
DE Joel Suetter, the team’s rookie of the year will continue his strong play on the defensive line. Starting in all games for the Huskies in 2009, Suetter, who also competed at the World Football Championship, finished with 18.5 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
DE Zach Hart In his first season in the CIS, the former junior football player had a team high six sacks. He also finished the season fifth in tackles with 29.5
CB Gregg Woytowich, a Saskatoon Hilltops transfer won the 2007 Paul Kirk Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Defensive Player in the Canadian Bowl.
LB Dane Bishop enters the Canada West considered one of the best defensive players in Alberta. The Edmonton native captained Team Alberta to a gold medal at the 2009 Football Canada Cup.
LB Taylor Wallace Canada West Defensive Player of the Year leaves the team as a fifth-year. He tallied 38 tackles in 2009.
K/CB Grant Shaw leaves the team after two seasons moving on to the CFL with Toronto Argonauts. The 2009 CIS Second Team All-Canadian set a Huskie record and tied the Canada West record with a field goal from 55-yards.