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Game Preview: Huskies vs. Bisons

Friday, October 12, 7:00 p.m.
Griffiths Stadium
Broadcast available at www.ck750.com (pregame show at 6:30 p.m.).

**Please remember to watch the OutsiderTV pregame show at 5:45 p.m.**

Records coming in: Huskies: 2-3, fourth in Canada West, lost 45-4 to the Calgary Dinos in week five; Manitoba: 3-2, third in the Canada West, lost 30-27 to the Regina Rams in week five (ranked eighth in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten).

Head to head history: The Bisons lead the Huskies with seven wins to six their thirteen meetings since 2002. The Huskie have won both playoff matches the teams have played in the last decade.

What’s on the line: For the Huskies, a playoff spot could be on the line. If they want to make it to twelve straight seasons in the playoffs, they will likely need to win at least two of their remaining games. If they want to finish third and have a much more favourable matchup against, what will likely be, the Regina Rams, they will likely have to win out.

The Bisons want to come in and show that they are just as good on the road as they are at home. While they have always been tough at home, their inability to win on the road, particularly in the second half of the seaosn, has been their Achilles’ heel in recent years. The Bisons will want to show that they are not only improved from last year, but they are, at this point, better than the Huskies.

Key players:

Saskatchewan

  • Halfback Braxton Lawrence – Lawrence had a breakout game against Calgary, with an interception and a couple of pass breakups. Expect more of the same from the former Saskatoon Hilltop and CJFL all-Canadian. as he looks to improve on his already strong statistics of 22 tackles, three passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
  • Quarterback Chase Bradshaw – Bradshaw had a rough outing in Calgary, but so did the rest of the team. After a couple weeks to heal, study film and regroup, expect a much better better performance from Bradshaw, especially with leading receiver Kit Hillis, and perhaps another veteran receiver or two, back in the lineup.

Manitoba

  • Receiver Xavier Johnson – This fifth-year wide receiver currently leads the Bisons with 20 receptions for 348 yards and a touchdown. He is a deep threat and if he gets behind coverage, he is hard to catch. Expect Bisons’ quarterback Cam Clark to look his way often.
  • Defensive End Ranji Atwall – This veteran junior player from the Vancouver Island Raiders has transitioned well to the CIS, currently leading the Bisons with 27 tackles to go along with 2.5 sacks. He and fellow defensive end Lauren Kroeker will be be an excellent test for tackles Mike Fuller and Evan Greff.

Key matchup: Look for the Bisons to try to match up one-on-one with Anthony Coombs or Nic Demski against a Huskie defender, preferably a linebacker. This worked well the last time these teams played and has worked for them in games since, with Coombs especially being used as a receiver, recording 118 yards and two touchdowns. The Huskies should be prepared for this and will have at least a rover matched up with a back coming out of the offensive backfield.

What they’re saying: “The coaches have talked about it. We’ve talked about it as players. We need to go 3-0. That’s our mindset. We’ve got to go 3-0 going into playoffs, to set ourselves up with where we want to go. The one good thing is you go into playoffs with a winning streak, and you never know what can happen.” – Huskies’ receiver Kit Hillis from the October 10, 2012 Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

What to expect:First of all, expect a BLACKOUT!

Second, expect a tight, back-and-forth game by two evenly matched teams. Both of these teams are hungry for a win and both are hungry to get into the playoffs and make some waves. Playoff success has eluded both of these teams for the past five years.

The Huskies get back many veterans who sat out the Calgary game, including Canada West leading receiver Kit Hillis and defensive back Luke Thiel. Should Zach Hart be cleared to play, he will be a welcome addition to a defensive line looking to stop the strong running attack of the Bisons.

I’m expecting the Huskies to play strong, physical football and try to wear down the Bisons, taking advantage of their larger roster and home-crowd advantage. It might take the better part of four quarters, but I think the Huskies are in a position where they will do whatever it takes to win this game and the two after. They want to end the season on a high note, even if it doesn’t mean hosting a playoff game.

Get out there, wear black, and cheer on your Huskies!

Go, Dogs, go!

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