Riders looking to finish regular season on winning note

Ricky Foley can’t wait for the start of the CFL playoffs to begin but not at the expense of looking past the Edmonton Eskimos. Foley and the Saskatchewan Roughriders conclude their regular season Saturday hosting Edmonton. Win or lose, the Riders (11-6) have already clinched second in the West Division — and will host B.C. in the conference semifinal Nov. 17 — while the Eskimos (3-14) are destined to finish last.

Ricky Foley can’t wait for the start of the CFL playoffs to begin but not at the expense of looking past the Edmonton Eskimos.

Foley and the Saskatchewan Roughriders conclude their regular season Saturday hosting Edmonton. Win or lose, the Riders (11-6) have already clinched second in the West Division — and will host B.C. in the conference semifinal Nov. 17 — while the Eskimos (3-14) are destined to finish last.

But the contest has meaning for both teams.

Saskatchewan is coming off a bitter 29-25 road loss to Calgary (14-3), which cemented first in the West for the Stampeders. Heading into the post-season having dropped two straight games would be hardly ideal for the Riders.

While there’s no playoff date for Edmonton, for many of its players this will be the final opportunity to make a favourable impression, either with the Eskimos or other CFL teams, for next year.

“We can’t look past Edmonton,” Foley said.

“If you look past Edmonton and start gameplanning for and worrying about B.C. you’re going to get your head kicked in by Edmonton.

“Those guys are playing for jobs and those coaches are gameplanning for jobs. They’re going to come in here hungry. We also don’t want to be on a two-game losing streak going into the playoffs, that wouldn’t be very good.”

Despite its struggles, Edmonton boasts some solid offensive threats. Quarterback Mike Reilly, in his first season as a CFL starter, has throw for 4,157 yards and 24 TDs while running for 649 yards — tops among quarterbacks — and is averaging 8.4 yards per rush.

The Eskimos also boast the CFL’s top receiver in slotback Fred Stamps, who has 68 catches for a league-best 1,259 yards and 11 TDs.

“Offensively they’ve got some playmakers,” Foley said. “Obviously Fred Stamps is special but the quarterback, man, he’s just a football player.

“I’ve got so much respect for Mike Reilly. He’s a guy I’ve hit a lot this year but he gets up, he doesn’t complain to his O-line and being a vet I’ve got a lot of respect for that kind of player. He’s going to be a good player in this league.”

The six-foot-two, 258-pound Foley joined the Riders as a free agent last off-season after helping the Toronto Argonauts win the 100th Grey Cup game in November at Rogers Centre. With this year’s CFL title game being played at Mosaic Stadium, Saskatchewan is attempting to become the third straight team to win the Grey Cup on home soil — B.C. also did it in 2011.

Foley, 31, of Courtice, Ont., has flourished in Regina with eight sacks after registered nine over three seasons in Toronto.

The eight-year veteran is enjoying his best CFL campaign since a career-best 12 sacks in ’09 with B.C. that earned him the league’s top Canadian award that year.

But it’s been a season of streaks for Saskatchewan, which opened the 2013 campaign with five straight wins before a 42-27 road loss to Calgary on Aug. 9. After reeling off three consecutive victories the Riders lost 25-13 to Winnipeg.

That was the start of four straight losses before a 31-17 road victory in Vancouver that began a three-game losing streak. Then came last weekend’s heart-breaking loss to the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium.

“I thought we had a pretty good effort in Calgary,” Foley said. “They’re the best team in the league record-wise but I think we had the opportunity to beat them and should’ve beat them and you can take a little bit of positive from that.

“Obviously guys are disappointed about not being able to win first place but we have to get this one this week and when B.C. comes in here be on a roll.”

The Riders-Stampeders’ rivalry this season has been intense, on and off the field. Saskatchewan’s Kory Sheets helped pour gasoline on the fire recently by publicly stating he was a better running back than Calgary’s Jon Cornish, the CFL rushing leader.

Sheets topped the rushing race midway through the season before suffering a knee injury that forced him to miss three games. Cornish, who was second overall behind Sheets at the time, stormed into the lead and hasn’t looked back since.

But Foley said in an eight-team league where clubs play one another often, animosity is bound to build up.

“When you play a team that much and it’s the two top dogs in the division it’s going to be intense,” he said. “It’s like a playoff series in hockey when you see a team that much and that frequently in such a short period of time there’s going to be a lot of built-up anger towards those guys.

“But that makes it fun. It’s good for the league, it’s good for the fans and it’s fun for us players.”

Once the playoffs begin, Foley said discipline will be key for the Riders.

“I think that’s going to be the biggest thing,” he said. “There also has to be good leadership going into the playoffs.

“Without question, we’ve got the talent to do what we want to do but the leadership has to be there, the discipline has to be there and we can’t beat ourselves. We do that I think we’ll be fine.”

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

Just Posted

Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid races to 100 points this NHL season

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid sprinted to a 100-point NHL season and… Continue reading

A Foodora courier is pictured as they pick up an order for delivery from a restaurant in Toronto, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Two-year EI review needed to buy time for needed tech upgrades, Qualtrough says

OTTAWA — Canada’s employment minister says a budgetary pledge for funding to… Continue reading

A person wears a face mask as they walk through McGill University during light snowfall in Montreal, Sunday, December 20, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Some universities say no to proof of vaccination requirement

A COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t be a requirement to return to the… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, participate in a virtual discussion with seniors from Residence Memphremagog in Magog, Que., from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats are on the move in advance of a potential election this year, recruiting candidates, training volunteers and grappling with how to kiss babies and press the flesh in a virtual, pandemic-restricted world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Grappling with how to press the virtual flesh, parties gear up for election showdown

OTTAWA — The three main national parties are firing up their election… Continue reading

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Most Read