Saskatoon Hilltops win 23-straight but still have room to improve: head coach

WATCH: Saskatoon Hilltops beat Regina Thunder 28-21, their 23rd-straight victory.

The Saskatoon Hilltops won their home opener 28-21 over provincial rival Regina Thunder on Saturday night at SMF Field.

Running back Ben Abrook played the hero, launching himself over a sea of linemen and into the end zone to put the Toppers ahead with only 33 seconds remaining on the clock.

“It gets the blood pumping,” Abrook said. “It’s a (close) game the whole game, it’s super fun.”

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Just a play earlier Saskatoon fumbled. The ball was recovered by Regina, who could’ve ended their heroic game-winning drive. But a Thunder offside penalty gave the Hilltops another opportunity to score, which they didn’t waste.

“We got outplayed, especially in the second half, and good teams win in the second half and they outplayed us,” Hilltops’ head coach Tom Sargeant said.

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“If we didn’t get the ball back, then we (would’ve) got what we deserved.”

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Although the victory added to an outstanding 23-in-a-row winning streak for the reigning national champions, it means little to their coach.

“That’s the least of my worries,” Sargeant replied when asked about the streak. “Right now we’ll take one and O but, you know, we’re going to settle down a little bit and then we’re going to ramp it up and get this product better, That’s all I know, we’ve got to get better.”

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For a team that is used to so much success, these close contests have served as a learning tool to some of the Hilltops that no win will come easily this season in the CJFL.

“(The win) shows that we’re relentless,” defensive back Colton Holmes said. “But, at the same time, it also shows that we have a lot of stuff to work on and improve.”

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‘He just gets football’: rookie Ramsey Derbas adds bite to Huskies’ defence
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“It should help, but, ultimately, you can’t keep leaving teams around too,” Sargeant added. “If we want to be a great team; great teams have a killer instinct. So, those are the championship teams that I’ve been blessed to coach. This is a championship team on this field, they just don’t know it yet.”

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The team will have their work cut out for them heading into the bye week, Sargeant said.

“I’m not feeling good about this win right now. So, the way I’m coaching next week, I’m coaching as if we lost this game.”