1996 Saskatoon Hilltops Football Club

Accomplishments: Canadian Junior Football Champions, 1996.

The regular season got off to a slow start.  In their first game, the Hilltops lost to the Edmonton Wildcats 34-24.  They followed that with an unimpressive 14-14 tie game against the Regina Rams.  But the team shook off these early setbacks and proceeded to go on a run for the ages.

The Hilltops won their next six conference games averaging 56 points on offence.  On defense, in each of the last four games, they held their opponents to less than a touchdown per game.  Their dominance culminated with an impressive 45-0 win against the Rams to finish the regular season in first place.

Their momentum continued into the Prairie Junior football playoffs.  They first beat the Wildcats 35-25 in the semi-final, and then edged the Rams in the final 27-23 to capture the Paul Schwann Trophy.  A victory against the Okanagan Sun in the Canada West final soon followed, giving the Hilltops a berth in the national game.

Playing in Windsor, ON against the hometown Windsor AKO Fratmen, the Hilltops would not be denied.  They beat Windsor decisively 39-7.  It was their tenth victory in a row, and it made them Canadian Junior Football Champions.

Though they won as a team, several players were singled out for individual honours.  Quarterback Sheldon Ball, defensive back Kurtis Albers and receiver Kelly McNairn were all named to the All-Canadian Junior All-Star Team.  Curtis Bulych also won the John M. Bannerman Memorial Trophy as the Canadian Bowl’s outstanding offensive player.  Tye Mountney won the Paul Kirk Memorial Trophy as the game’s most outstanding defensive player.

Left to Right:

Front Row L-R: Chris Mossing, Darryl Balzer, Kurtis Albers, Kevin Tysowski, Ryan Cadieux, Sean Morton, Sheldon Ball, Leo Grosjean

Second Row: Chris Gibson, Troy Slywka, Cole Beavis (trainer), Alistair Wilson (trainer), Kelly Bowers (asst. coach), Shane Reider (asst. coach), Guy Fuller (asst. coach), Kim Pasloski (asst. coach), Dale Newman, Dave Hardy (head coach), Doug Humbert (asst. coach), Tom Sargeant (asst. coach), Stacey Ostertag(equipment), Wayne Nogier (manager), Rob Sotnikow

Third Row: Rhett McLane, Shaun Geisel, Jason Kostiuk, Trevor Bates, Ron Zerr, Rhett Lundgren, Justin Powlowski, Mike Lang, Chad Bankowski, Kyle Stroeder, Troy Semenchuk, Jason Sulz, Curtis Bulych, Curtis Hill, Steve Bilan, Blair Currey, Don Wilde

Fourth Row: Russ Arthurs, Pat Clarke, Bo Blackmon, Garrett Wiebe, Chris Harden, Colin Belsher, Kelly McNairn, Ryan Gay, Chad Park, Sandy Martin, Mike Humenny, Bobby Gibson, Neale Sendecki, Todd Dobmeier, Kelly Bates

Back Row: Kevin Johnston, Charles McLennan, Pat Morley, James Trimble, Brad Williamson, Glen Cey, Rod Janzen, Mike Cox, Steve Prokopchuk, Dean Kabaroff, Tye Mountney, Kent Sangster, Ryan David, Sheldon Duval, Jamie Beherns, Matt Lambe Missing: Chris Wandzura, Jason Barlow, Kris Sembalerus, Dr. Bill Haver