Saskatoon

Record-setting QB hopes to end career, Huskies' championship drought with Vanier Cup victory

Mason Nyhus knows Saturday's Vanier Cup game will be his last wearing the green and white of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. To go out as a champion with a win over the Laval University Rouge et Or would be the perfect ending to the fifth-year quarterback's record-setting career.

Mason Nyhus wants to go out in style with a win over the Laval Rouge et Or

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies return to the Vanier Cup for the second consecutive year Saturday to take on the Laval University Rouge et Or. (Photo Electric Umbrella/Derek El)

Mason Nyhus knows Saturday's Vanier Cup game will be his last wearing the green and white of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

To go out as a champion would be the perfect ending to the fifth-year quarterback's record-setting career.

"That's why you play the game — to win a Vanier Cup, win a national championship," Nyhus said. "It's been our team's goal every year since I've been here and the last few years we've been right there. Obviously, last year [when the Huskies lost in the Vanier Cup to the Western University Mustangs], we couldn't get it done. 

"So to be able to go out in my fifth year and with the championship would really mean everything."

Huskie quarterback Mason Nyhus will finish his university career in Saturday's Vanier Cup. (Bob Frid)

To win the championship — their first since 1998 —  the Huskies will have their defeat the formidable Laval University Rouge et Or in London, Ont. (1 p.m. ET Saturday on CBC TV and CBCSports.ca). Both teams finished with 7-1 records in the regular season.

Laval has a 4-1 lifetime record against the Huskies, including Vanier Cup victories in 2004 and 2006. 

The 2006 game was played in Saskatoon in frigid weather conditions with Laval prevailing 13-8.

Nyhus, who broke the Huskies' single season passing record this season, comes into Saturday's game on a high.

He was named USport's offensive player of the week after leading the Huskies to a 36-19 win over St. Francis Xavier X-Men in last weekend's Uteck Bowl.

Nyhus, who was named a second team All-Canadian, completed 30 of 38 passes for 327 yards, including a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns that broke the game open.

"There are things we're going to have to clean up going in to play the Rouge et Or in the Vanier Cup, so definitely happy with the win, but definitely not satisfied either," he said.

This is Ted Kubongo's first year with the Huskies after playing with the University of Maine and at UBC. (Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards)

The Huskies will rely on a potent passing attack and a solid ground game anchored by Ryker Frank and Ted Kubongo.

"This is probably the biggest game that I've played in my life," said Kubongo, who came to the Huskies after playing with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. "I definitely had some time to think about it and just be like, 'Alright Ted, it is the biggest game your life but it's just another football game at the end of the today.'"

The Laval Rouge et Or and Saskatchewan Huskies meet in the 2022 Canada Life Vanier Cup on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. Saskatchewan time. The match will be broadcast live on CBC TV and live streamed. (U Sports / CBC Sports)

Kubongo says the Huskies have a lot of playmakers who have to come through when they get the chance.

Laval and Saskatchewan have a lot in common, Huskies linebacker Nick Wiebe says.

"Both teams are really big upfront, both have solid run games and then probably the 1A and 1B at quarterback in the country," Wiebe said. "Mason, he's our guy and we have the utmost, utmost confidence in him.

"[Laval QB Arnaud Desjardins] gets the ball out on time and on target … I just think both these teams are pretty much mirror images of each other, honestly."

Huskies linebacker Nick Wiebe says the experience of playing in the Vanier Cup last year should help the team in this year's final. (Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards)

Having played in last year's Vanier Cup was invaluable, Wiebe says.

"It gave a lot of guys in our program a great deal of experience that we might not otherwise have had in big games.

"When you don't have that kind of experience in big games a lot of times you can lose your head a little bit and forget what you've been doing all year that got you there."

The last time the University of Saskatchewan Huskies won the Vanier Cup in 1998 head coach Scott Flory was an offensive lineman with the team. (Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards)

"We have such a rich football tradition here," Nyhus said. "There's been so many great players, great quarterbacks here at the University of Saskatchewan, guys like Brent Schneider, Steve Bilan, those type of quarterbacks. It's pretty cool."

He says he's happy to be thought of in that company.

"[I'm] just trying to trying to leave a good legacy and I think I've done a pretty good job of that and hopefully a national championship would help that as well," he said.

 

With files from Peter Mills and Saskatoon Morning

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