Rita Mingo, Special to Canada West
CALGARY – The wild cheering emanating from a certain part of the McMahon Stadium stands was to be expected.
“I’m pretty sure they could have named a section after me today,” grinned University of Saskatchewan running back Tyler Chow, a graduate of Notre Dame High School, a top Calgary football program. “I had a lot of family in attendance.
“It’s a nice ending to a very long career. It’s bittersweet, but it’s on to next week in London.”
Chow put an exclamation point on what has been a terrific season for the fifth-year Huskie, as he chugged for 222 yards en route to a 43-18 upset of the previously undefeated Calgary Dinos on Saturday afternoon in the 82nd Hardy Cup championship game.
Chow scored a pair of touchdowns during a game in which the Dinos uncharacteristically committed seven turnovers, which the Huskies happily took advantage of. Given the fact this is his last kick at the U SPORTS can, Chow was predictably giddy afterward.
“It’s been a long five years, but it’s unreal,” the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder claimed. “I’m still trying to take it in right now. It feels great, though.
“You know what, I didn’t do it alone. We played lights-out, connected football all game long. Defence getting turnovers and O-line, they’ve worked so hard all year and they don’t get quite the recognition that they should. That’s the best O-line in the conference.
“We knew there would be highs and lows and we needed to tow the line with that. We needed to make sure we were overcoming success and at the same time overcoming failure as well.”
Chow was a going concern every time he touched the ball, with 24 carries and two receptions. Once he got up a head of steam, Calgary defenders were at sixes and sevens in their attempts to slow him down.
“That’s impressive,” agreed Saskatchewan head coach Scott Flory, when told of Chow’s running total, which was 222. “Tyler came off an injury last year and he worked his butt off all off-season. We monitored him throughout the year. We had him on a little bit of a pitch count where he wasn’t getting too many carries. But we knew when push came to shove, when we got later in the year, we were going to work our workhorse. And, man, he’s a workhorse for us. He’s such a phenomenal running back.
“But he can’t do it alone. Those big guys up front were moving people and I’m so proud of him.”
The lower body injury Chow sustained last year curtailed his season and his number-one priority was to regain some of that prowess that made him a first-team all-Canadian in 2016. This past week, he was named a Canada West all-star after leading the conference in rushing with 640 yards.
“It feels amazing to have a healthy season,” he acknowledged. “I can’t thank our strength and conditioning coach enough and all the support staff we have, from rehab to our surgeon. They are outstanding.”
He’ll have one more opportunity to shine, this time against the No. 1-ranked Western Mustangs, 63-14 winners over Guelph in the OUA conference championship game earlier Saturday.
“Western’s a very strong team,” Chow understated. “They’re coming off a Vanier Cup. We’re not going to take them lightly. It’s going to be a long week of preparation.”
“We have work to do,” Flory pitched in. “We ain’t done yet. We’re going to enjoy this. Enjoy it for a half hour or so and then it’s on to our next opponent. I saw them last year. I haven’t watched a lick of tape on them this year. We’ll put together a game plan and we’ll go out there and give them everything we’ve got, just like we did today.”