Struggling Roughriders searching for a way to win
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Nothing has gone right for the Saskatchewan Roughriders against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers since Cody Fajardo’s last pass in the 2019 West Division final bounced off the upright.
Including that game, Fajardo and the Riders are winless against the Blue and Gold in their last five attempts.
They’ll look to snap that streak tonight at IG Field in the 18th annual Banjo Bowl.
“I tell people all the time, this is one of the greatest football teams I think the CFL has seen in years. They’re on a dominant tear over the last couple of years and it’s just we’re on the other side of it and we’re trying to find a way just to make it shake and find a way to win a game,” said Fajardo shortly after the Riders landed in Winnipeg on Friday.
The Riders came close last week in the Labour Day Classic as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead before falling 20-18. If it wasn’t for their lack of discipline, the Riders might’ve been able to pull it out. They gave the Bombers a free 99 yards on 11 penalties. The Bombers had eight penalties for 40 yards.
Despite that, Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said he hasn’t been preaching to his team about it all week.
“No, I haven’t, but we got to play clean. I do think we got to play clean. We’re probably not going to beat Winnipeg in a penalty contest, but we can’t have double what they’re getting,” Dickenson told the Free Press.
“We have to play clean, play smart football, and play hard. If we get a penalty doing that, so be it. But I don’t want our guys to play tentative. I want them to play loose and with energy. We’ve worked really hard on technique, so I think you’ll see a cleaner game from us.”
The biggest storyline in Riderville this week was the release of controversial defensive lineman Garrett Marino. Dickenson was asked if the attention surrounding the release was a distraction to his team as they prepared for a rematch with the Bombers.
“Our guys really, really like Marino and we’re sad it didn’t work out. It’s like losing a family member in some ways. There’s a little bit of sadness and I think people feel some angst, but I think at the end of the day, they realize we have to go out there and play our game and do the best we can to try to put a win on the board,” said Dickenson.
Sitting in fourth place in the West Division at 6-6, the Riders can’t afford to be swept by the Bombers if they want to avoid crossing over to the East for the post-season. Although, with the East Division as bad as it is, that might not be so bad.
“If we don’t (win), we’re in tough out West. There’s no doubt,” said Dickenson.
“We’re 6-6, you get to 6-7 and you’re running out of games. We’re not going to focus necessarily on the season at this stage of the game. We just want to play a better game than we did last week, in a hostile environment.”
Noah Hallett returns
Bombers defensive back Noah Hallett will play his first game on Saturday since suffering a serious leg injury in Week 15 last year.
The second-year player from London, Ont., will back up his older brother Nick Hallett at safety.
“Our family is in town so it’s going to be a really special moment,” said Noah on Friday.
Bombers and Roughriders team up to honour victims
The Roughriders and Bombers will wear commemorative stickers on their helmets on Saturday to honour the 10 people who were killed and the 18 that were injured in a series of stabbings in northern Saskatchewan last Sunday. The stickers feature the letters “JSCN” (which stands for James Smith Cree Nation) in red, which is the colour of healing in Cree culture.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...