Despite the recent successes enjoyed by the blue and gold, their head coach, Tom Sargeant, didn’t mince words when describing the difficulty of the latest achievement for the toppers.
“To win one is unreal, to win six in a row — you don’t even understand,” Sargeant said.
His players echoed their coach’s statement after a hard-fought game that was within six points late in the fourth quarter.
“It gets better every time,” defensive back Brant Morrow said. “We fought hard this year and we’re going to keep fighting.”
“It’s special,” quarterback Tyler Hermann explained. “It’s all the people that have gone through the program with me, and the coaches that work so hard.”
“It’s an awesome feeling,” running back Ben Abrook agreed.
“It never gets old. I’m super, super happy for the guys involved.”
Although the Hilltops came into the conference final riding an incredible 28-game winning streak dating back to September 2017, the team’s veteran players were still filled with nervous energy before kickoff.
“You’re thinking both ways, like, if I lose what’s going to happen? If I win what’s going to happen?” fifth year linebacker Riley Keating said.
“I was pretty nervous coming into this game. I had some butterflies, but I trust the guys around me and we just did our jobs.”
The game was possibly even more trying for graduating defensive back Colton Holmes, a PFC All-Star who’s only gotten into four games this season due to injury.
The biggest moment of the game came with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, with the Hilltops leading by six. After the Toppers were denied twice by the Edmonton defence on the goal line, Sargeant elected to gamble on third down, which paid off as Ben Abrook punched into the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
For the Hilltops’ head coach, sending the league’s best field goal kicker, Rylan Kleiter, onto the field for an 18-yard field goal wasn’t even an option.
“Not a chance,” Sargeant exclaimed. “That’s not who I am. At the end of the day, I’ve got the belief system and the trust in our players that when we’re in those tough situations that we have to come out on top.”
“When we’re on the one-yard line, we’re going for it, we’re going to score,” Abrook agreed. “Having that confidence behind us too just pushes us over the goal line, so it’s huge.”
The Hilltops now find themselves on the road for the remainder of the season, beginning Saturday, Nov. 2 in London, Ont., for their CJFL semi-final match-up with the London Beefeaters.