Saskatoon Hilltops training camp is underway and while the team’s starting quarterback hasn’t changed, their offence will have a different look.
Coming off their fourth straight championship in the Canadian Junior Football League, the team lost their top two running backs and two of their top three receivers during the off-season.
However, the Hilltops are a perennial powerhouse in part because of their ability to keep the talent mill churning when players age out, and that ability will be put to the test once again.
“Every team is different so this team’s got to define themselves,” Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant said at Ron Atchison Field.
“How they want to play, how they want to conduct themselves and as I said, the coaching staff’s back so that continuity’s huge for me.”
Notable departures from last year’s squad include running backs Logan Fischer and Adam Machart, who combined for over 1,500 yards. Also gone are reception leaders Ryan Turple and Sam Mike, but the Toppers aren’t worried about filling their cleats.
“We’ve got a lot of receivers coming in with a lot of depth, some new guys with a lot of post-secondary experience and running backs (are) looking good,” Hilltops quarterback Jordan Walls said.
Mix in some returning veterans like Jason Price at receiver as well as Josh Ewanchyna in the backfield, and the Hilltops are excited about their offensive potential.
Walls is a year older as well as wiser, and with four starters returning on the offensive line, he’ll get a chance to open up the playbook.
“It comes with a little bit more experience when you’re in your fifth year,” Walls said.
“I feel a little bit more comfortable coming into this camp, I know what the other defences are trying to do, I know what kind of speed the game’s played at so for me it’s just being comfortable.”
Saskatoon’s first test this season comes Aug. 18 against the Regina Thunder at Mosaic Stadium.