There will be a lot of new faces in the Saskatoon Hilltops starting lineup this season, but not at the most important position. Quarterback Jared Andreychuk is back for his fifth and final year with the Hilltops and he’s not ready to wax nostalgic about his junior football career just yet.
When asked if taking the field for his final training camp with the team felt any different, Andreychuk shrugged.
“Not really. Every year you add some confidence and and become more comfortable with being around here and the league itself, but other than that it’s the same old (feeling),” he said.
It may not feel different to Andreychuk, but the fact remains that his time with the Toppers is coming to an end after this season. If he’s not thinking about it, his teammates certainly are.
“He’s definitely a key guy. Without him coming back this year it’d be a whole different ball game but having him come back definitely sets a lot of people’s minds at ease,” running back Logan Fischer said.
Receiver Tyson Sawatzky is also entering his final campaign as a Hilltop, and the chemistry he and Andreychuk have developed through their years together will likely play a big role this season.
“It’s definitely huge having him back. That’s probably the most consistent thing in our offensive game this year,” Sawatzky said.
While Andreychuk does admit that the future is on his mind, at present he’s more focused on leading the blue and gold to another Canadian Bowl title. The Centennial Collegiate grad has already won three national championships in his first four years with Saskatoon.
“As a whole I play for my teammates. That’s the funnest part is just winning with your teammates and having a good time during the season. You can’t think too far ahead and that’s where my mind’s at right now,” he said.
Andreychuk’s mind is also on the Hilltops’ new-look offence, which features a revamped receiving corps and offensive line. With so many new faces on that side of the ball, head coach Tom Sargeant is taking comfort in the stability provided by the veteran QB.
“Any time you come into camp with a fifth-year quarterback, a guy that’s played in three Canadian Bowls, you know what? We’ve got the top quarterback in Canada, 22-and-under, anywhere,” Sargeant said.
Now it’s up to Andreychuk to make the most of his last hurrah.
“You just never know with this team. Guys will step into spots and I’m excited to see that happen,” he said.