‘The beauty and heartbreak of sport’: A Huskies football coach reflects on a special season

The University of Saskatchewan football team returned to Saskatoon Sunday to clean out their lockers for the last time of the season.

While the sting of their 30-24 Vanier Cup loss is still fresh in their minds, the Huskies look back with pride on a season that has seen just two losses.

Despite the frustration of coming close to winning the title, head coach Scott Flory said they have a lot to be proud of.

“Difficult,” said Flory outside Griffiths Stadium. “This is the beauty and sadness of sport. There are winners and losers and there is a finality to that. I’m so proud of our guys for responding the way we did during the season with ups and downs and everything we had.

Apart from the four players who graduated, the bulk of the squad is expected to return a year older and more experienced.

For fifth and final year quarterback Mason Nyhus, who set the school’s all-time passing record and was named Canada West Player of the Year for 2022 – he has one last chance to impart wisdom to returning players.

“Funny, we’re having our team meeting here this week but it’s always the fifth graders going there and giving their speeches to the team,” Nyhus told CTV News. “That’s it, ‘don’t blink, it’s going too fast.’ And it’s the same thing every speech, but it just really goes away.

His five years on the pitch may be fading in his memory, but those moments away from the stadium with teammates are the ones he cherishes the most.

“Amazing memories, there were good times in our journey,” Nyhus said with a smile. “Just hanging out with friends, watching the Thursday night football game usually before the Friday game. Went to Deano’s for some wings with the receivers and quarterbacks, just lots of fun stuff, so I’ll definitely cherish the memories.

Sophomore year running back Ryker Smith stepped into major roles this season, which included being named a Canada West all-star and winner of the Community Service Award for 2022. He acknowledged his body was ready for a bit of a break before he returned to work.

“I believe everyone will need time to recover, it will take a few weeks to get back on their feet,” said the engineering student. “But then we are into next season unfortunately. We’ve had a wild ride this season, it’s been a lot of fun, but a few weeks and we’ll move on to next season.

The 2022 Huskies football team can look back on a season that included a Hardy Cup and UTECK Bowl victory, and hope to return next season even hungrier for the Vanier Trophy.

Hadwin Floyd

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