Saskatchewan Roughriders Seeking Elusive Postseason Success | The Canadian News

REGINA – The Saskatchewan Roughriders believe it’s time to turn the success of the regular season into a race for the Gray Cup.

The Riders, who host the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Division semifinal on Sunday, were first in the division in 2019 and second in 2018, but neither finals translated into postseason success.

They lost 20-13 to Winnipeg in the 2019 West final and 23-18 to the Blue Bombers in the 2018 West semifinal despite holding home advantage in both games.

With a 9-5-0 record this season, which was good enough for second place, the Riders are now focused on taking the next step toward becoming a championship team.

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“We know something different about the guys who have been here in 2018 and 2019 and been a part of those playoff losses at home,” said Riders head coach Craig Dickenson. “Everybody knows that as you get older you realize that your chances are getting smaller and smaller and I’m sorry with guys like Dan Clark and Micah Johnson and AC Leonard. They know that there are a limited number of cracks, so they want to make a career out of it while they can.

“Some of the rookies think that you will be in the playoffs and you will do a race every year or you will have the opportunity to do it, but the veterans know that although it is a nine-team league, it is difficult to win the Gray Cup and only you have so many cracks, so I think there is a little more urgency in the locker room. “

Many experts believe the Riders are the underdog despite their regular season record. While they had nine wins, Rider’s offense has struggled all season. And the Stampeders won two of their three regular-season meetings with Saskatchewan.

While the Riders find the underdog tag insulting, catcher Shaq Evans believes they may be partly responsible for the state.

“I think it may be a little disrespectful, but at the end of the day, we haven’t done anything in the playoffs and that’s what matters the most,” Evans said. “We’ve had great regular seasons since I’ve been here so maybe they underestimate us a bit, but it may be justified a bit because we have to show that we can do something when it matters most.”

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The Riders have struggled to control Stampeders running back Ka’Deem Carey. In Calgary’s 23-17 win on Oct. 2, Carey gained 78 yards on 11 carries for a 7.1 average. He followed with 109 rushing yards on 20 carries in a 22-19 victory on October 9.

Dickenson said there is no magic formula to stop Carey.

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“You try to make him win it and you try to put as many helmets on him as you can at the beginning of the game,” Dickenson said. “Hopefully you can get him out of his rhythm a bit, but he’s good when he’s rolling. He gets stronger as the game progresses, so we want to start fast and try to be as physical as possible early in the game, but he’s a good player.

“If he leaves, it will be a long day for us at this point, based on those three games.”

Players from both teams spoke during the week about the intense rivalry between the clubs, but no one was willing to put down a cheeky comment that could end up motivating their rival.

However, Riders defensive back Ed Gainey shared a quick thought about his impression of the Stampeders.

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“I’m just going to speak for myself. I mean, I’ve been here for three, four or five years, so I can’t stand either Calgary or Winnipeg, ”Gainey said. “I would not like the image of the playoffs to be the other way around.”


Sunday, Mosaic Stadium

BO’S STREAM: Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is bringing up a streak of 78 straight pass attempts without an interception in the game. Edmonton’s Mitchell and Taylor Cornelius tied for the regular-season interception lead with 13 each. Mitchell has thrown 83 career interceptions, of which 13 have been returned for touchdowns. In his career, Mitchell has been intercepted 18 times by the Riders, and five have been returned for touchdowns.

LATE SEASON PUSH: Both teams signed veteran receivers for their playoff careers. Duke Williams joined the Riders in October after spending time with Buffalo Bills and the NFL’s Los Angele Rams. Williams, a 2018 CFL star with Edmonton, has played four games for the Riders, catching 17 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Begelton returned to the Stampeders on November 1 after attending training camp with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. A 2019 CFL All-Star, Begelton has played two games in his comeback, rushing in nine passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.

RENE IS ON A ROLL: Stampeders kicker René Paredes has made his last 19 field goal attempts and his last miss was on October 9. Paredes made 44 of 48 field goal attempts during the regular season.

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 27, 2021.

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