Saskatchewan loses Canada Cup final

Matthew Gourlie
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Buettner named tournament's offensive MVP

Sawyer Buettner had a great week at the Football Canada Cup in Saskatoon.

Team Sask. Green's Sawyer Buettner plays during first half action at the 2014 Football Canada Cup Final at Griffiths Stadium against Ontario in Saskatoon Saturday.

But it wasn't perfect.

The Peacock quarterback was named the tournament's offensive most valuable player, but he would have gladly traded that for a Canada Cup title for he and his Saskatchewan Green teammates.

"We weren't happy with second, but I think our guys really competed well. We were ranked fourth going in and we have a great group. We did all that was asked of us. We didn't come out with the win, but I thought it was still a really good game," said Buettner.

Saskatchewan Green lost Saturday's final 27-19 to Ontario.

Personal accolades come secondary to team goals, but being named one of the most valuable players at a national tournament doesn't happen very often.

"That was pretty cool," said Buettner. "I wasn't expecting it. I thought our receiver Kade Belyk out of Regina might have gotten it, but it was a pretty big honour."

Both Buettner and Belyk had incredible tournaments and proved to be a lethal combination. Belyk caught 21 passes for 390 yards and three touchdowns over the three games. Buettner completed 49 of the 69 passes (71 per cent) he attempted. He passed for 745 yards and five touchdowns and didn't throw an interception. He also rushed for 90 yards in the semifinal win against Alberta. 

"It was an awesome experience," he said. "It was fun competing with the best players in the country. It was a great experience to bring back to my high school team in the fall too.

"It shows you can compete against some of the top guys in the country and it shows all of the hard work that you've put in pays off in the end."

Saskatchewan opened the final by kicking a field goal on their first drive. They fell behind 13-3 before linebacker Logan Mainil from Weyburn returned an interception for a touchdown to cut the lead to 13-10 at the half.

Ontario's Ben Cross recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown to restore their lead to 20-10 early in the second half.

Sask. Green responded with their longest drive of the game and Buettner found Belyk from Regina LeBoldus on a slant for a four-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 20-17. 

Backed up deep in their own end, Ontario conceded a safety to narrow their lead to 20-19.

Ontario changed quarterbacks and Kevin John orchestrated an Ontario drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by Marquis Richards to put them ahead 27-19.

Buettner was 23-of-35 for 260 yards, but gave the Ontario defence a lot of credit for making life difficult for the Saskatchewan offence.

"They have a very fast, athletic defence and we found that out pretty quickly on our first drive," said Buettner. "They have the quickest defensive backs I've played against and the biggest linebacker group I've played against too.

"They played a lot of different coverages and they were fast. Their defensive linemen were good at rushing, but when they knew they couldn't get through they were really good at timing getting their hands up. I think they blocked two or three passes where I had some open receivers, but they got their hands on the ball. They were very talented at doing that."

In 2012 Saskatchewan won the Red River Cup in Winnipeg with Buettner at quarterback and a number of those players formed the core of this year's Canada Cup team.

"It was cool to play with them one more time," said Buettner. "You meet a lot of the guys who play spring ball and go to a lot of the camps. It's great to come together with guys who love football as much as you do."

The team had formed a strong bond through the player selection process and their weeks of preparation leading up to the tournament.

"We had a pretty special group and we've told them that from the entire time," said Sask. Green head coach Kyle Stroeder. "We've created a good group of family and we've stressed that the entire time. I'm really proud of these guys and a lot of them are going to have a great future in football and hopefully they can take this experience back to their high school programs and continue to get better and better and help build football in Saskatchewan."

In the fifth-place game, Saskatchewan White — who feature Peacock's Dax Moffatt at middle linebacker — lost 24-10 to Manitoba. It was a strong showing for a team that was seeded eighth heading into the tournament.

Moffatt finished with four tackles and a forced fumble for Sask. White in the game. Sask. White recovered four fumbles and intercepted a Manitoba pass as their defence held them in the game.

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Ontario, Canada Alberta Manitoba Red River Winnipeg

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