He's still got a year of high school eligibility left, but he's already made one of the top teams in the country.Jordon Hilgers, 17, was a member of the gold-medal-winning Team Saskatchewan football team that played in the Canada Cup this summer. The Canada Cup is the under-18 national championship for 12-man football. The 2010 version of the tournament was held at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia from July 10-17.Hilgers, who is a linebacker with the Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) Mohawks' football team, played as a defensive end with the team.The first tryouts for the team were in Saskatoon and Regina on May 16, which 260 players attended. Hilgers went to the north camp in Saskatoon.
The second tryout was held in Regina May 29-30, with 100 players. The numbers were cut to 46 after that, including seven practice roster players. One of those ended up going to Wolfville, where he was selected as the Special Teams MVP and won the kicking challenge, Hilgers noted.Throughout the tryouts, the coaches told Hilgers that he was doing well, but that he needed to work on some little things. On the Tuesday after the last tryout, Hilgers found out he had made the team."I was excited, but it didn't hit me right away," he said. "I thought this was a big deal."The team started practising July 6 and flew out on July 8."It was really hard," Hilgers said of the practices. "We had a really big playbook to learn in a short amount of time."Saskatchewan had two more full days of practices before playing their first game on July 11 against Manitoba."It wasn't our best game, but we won 26-15," Hilgers said. "The coaches called it an exhibition game to work out the details."It was also the first test of the defensive front seven for the team, which was being called under-sized. Predictions before the game had Saskatchewan winning, but barely, Hilgers said. And they were also predicted to lose their next two games.After defeating Manitoba, Saskatchewan faced British Columbia in their second game on July 14."We played excellent," Hilgers said. "Our defence played excellent the whole tournament. We stopped drives and we created four turnovers in the first quarter."Saskatchewan dominated B.C. 33-2.
Two straight wins put Saskatchewan in the gold medal game, where they played Quebec.The final was on July 17 and Saskatchewan came away with an 18-10 victory."We were losing until the fourth quarter," he explained. "We weren't too worried, but we stopped going full steam and they got ahead of us."Saskatchewan had several "amazing" drives in the fourth quarter to claim the win, Hilgers said.Hilgers didn't keep track of his stats, but felt he played pretty well considering he was starting in a position he'd never played before. He does know that in one game he got two sacks, along with some tackles, and forced a fumble."I learned so much about the defensive line and 12-man football," he said. HCI plays nine-man football, he added.The change in style was a little overwhelming at first, but he soon adapted."It's a bigger field and you have more to look at and more to read during plays," he explained. "You have got to play closer attention to the offence so you can react."The weather at the tournament also took some getting used to."The weather was hot and humid and it felt like 35C," Hilgers explained. "We got very exhausted playing three games in a week."Hilgers rolled his ankle during the first quarter of the final, but did make it back into the game, where he tackled the Quebec running back for a seven-yard loss, changing the momentum of the game.The team did have one day off from football, when they travelled to Halifax for a tour of the navy ship HMCS Toronto, the Citadel, and Peggy's Cove.Now Hilgers is preparing for a high school camp with the Huskies August 9-13 and then it will be time for his last year of football with the Mohawks. After that, he's thinking it might be time to try out for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team.