Saskatchewan Roughriders aim to bring home energy on the road to B.C. Lions

VANCOUVER — The Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping they can bring the spirit of Regina with them on their final road trip of the season.

The Roughriders visit the B.C. Lions on Friday night at B.C. Place, a stadium where they have had success earlier in the season. This time, however, the CFL’s West Division playoff race is hanging in the balance.

Saskatchewan is 7-1 on home turf but just 3-4 in away games in 2019. The Roughriders are playing three of their last four regular-season contests on the road while the NHL has taken over Mosaic Stadium in preparation for its Heritage Classic game between the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames on Oct. 26.

“Adversity — it reveals character,” said Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson on Thursday. “We knew this schedule was in place from the very beginning and we knew we wouldn’t be able to practise on our home field for a few weeks. We’re okay with it.

“We focus on what we can control, which is our preparation, our practise habits, our weight room habits. We’re not concerned necessarily about where we have to play.”

The Riders are now tied with the Calgary Stampeders atop the CFL’s West Division after falling 30-28 at McMahon Stadium last Friday. Both clubs have identical 10-5 records, while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have played one additional game (10-6) and the Edmonton Eskimos sit fourth (8-8).

“We have to be road warriors,” said Saskatchewan quarterback Cody Fajardo. “These are big games. We need to win every single one of them. We didn’t do ourselves any favours last week against Calgary.

“We’re a really good team, a really tough team at home and we know our crowd energizes us. We’ve got to be able to find ways to be energized running out on the field in someone else’s stadium.”

Signed by Saskatchewan as a backup quarterback after one year with B.C., Fajardo seized the Roughriders’ starting job earlier this season, after Zach Collaros was injured in the season opener. In 15 games with Saskatchewan, Fajardo has connected on 71 per cent of his passes and thrown for 15 touchdowns. He ranks third in the CFL with 3,649 passing yards.

The Lions (5-11) are the only West Division team the Riders have beaten on the road this year. One week after a 38-25 victory over the Lions at home in July, Saskatchewan recorded a 45-18 victory at B.C. Place. But even with the Lions now out of the playoff picture, they aren’t taking their opponent lightly.

“I see a team that’s going to come out swinging,” said Fajardo. “They have nothing to lose.

“I’ve been on teams where we were last in the league. That’s a scary thing when you have guys fighting for jobs. At that point, it gets a little more personal, you’ve got to play for yourself.”

The Eskimos eliminated the Lions from post-season contention last Saturday with a 19-6 win that also saw two key B.C. players suffer season-ending injuries. Starting quarterback Mike Reilly underwent successful surgery this week to repair his fractured left wrist and Lions head coach DeVone Claybrooks confirmed Wednesday that defensive back Aaron Grymes suffered an ACL tear.

Danny O’Brien will make his first career CFL start at quarterback for the Lions in Reilly’s place. The 29-year-old O’Brien has dressed as a backup in 97 games over six seasons, including two years behind Reilly in Edmonton before both moved to the Lions this season.

The Roughriders will also be missing a key player from their lineup. On Thursday, the team announced that defensive tackle Micah Johnson was placed on the one-game injured list with a reported ankle injury.

Rookie Charbel Dabire will take Johnson’s place in Saskatchewan’s starting lineup. He has five tackles and one sack in nine games this year.


Friday, B.C. Place, Vancouver

INTO THE STRETCH: After facing B.C., the Roughriders will finish out their regular-season schedule with a home-and-home series against the Eskimos.

WESTERN WOES: The Lions are 0-8 against West Division opponents this season. With a bye in Week 20, they’ll finish out their schedule by hosting the Stampeders on Nov. 2.

BEST NEWCOMERS: On Thursday, the CFL announced the 134 players eligible for the league’s most outstanding rookie award. Current Roughriders linebacker Solomon Elimimian won the award in 2010 as a member of the Lions.

THIRD TIME UNLUCKY: The Lions have now missed the playoffs twice in three years for the first time in 27 seasons. They reached the post-season just once between 1989 and 1992.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Recovery plan inspires confidence but Canadians like working from home for now: Poll

Fear of a worse second wave may explain why workers want to work from home

Amazon sees its palm recognition tech in stadiums, offices

Palm recognition more private than other biometric technology

U.S. judge orders Canadian woman accused of threatening Trump to remain in custody

Suspect had one semi-automatic handgun and 294 rounds of ammunition

More choices now available for office locations in Red Deer

Depending on size, offices can locate in different city commercial zones

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

David Marsden: Molly Banister extension must be kept

‘It would be a mistake to take a sensible response to future residential development off the table’

Toronto Blue Jays won’t pitch ace Ryu in playoff opener against Rays

Toronto grabbed eighth playoff spot with a record of 32-28

The only debate moderator to return, Fox’s Wallace preps

Known as methodical, even-tempered and never showy

Steve Harvey talks show revival on Facebook Watch, NBC split

Launches new talk show ‘Steve on Watch’

Bubble hockey champs: Tampa Bay Lightning beat Dallas Stars 2-0, win Stanley Cup

Bubble hockey champs: Tampa Bay Lightning beat Dallas Stars 2-0, win Stanley Cup

Mahomes outplays Jackson to lead Chiefs past Ravens 34-20

Mahomes outplays Jackson to lead Chiefs past Ravens 34-20

The Finals are set: LeBron, Lakers will meet Butler, Heat

The Finals are set: LeBron, Lakers will meet Butler, Heat

Most Read