Riderville

It’s pretty rare when the fourth game of a regular season is a must-win, but the relief and fireworks heard and felt around Rider Nation about 11 p.m. Saturday night proved the exception to the rule.

The Riders 37-9 win over the toothless Toronto Argonauts got the Riders back to 500 and two games behind Edmonton and Calgary for first place. It was a win predicated on the running of Will Ford, former Bomber running back, who picked up 113 yards rushing and three touchdowns and a relentless rush from the Riders defensive line sacking Ricky Ray four times.

You really had to wonder Saturday night, what the hell the Saskatchewan Roughriders were doing on the Amazing Race as opposed to being in Mosaic Stadium to face off against the BC Lions.

This is not the defending Grey Cup Champions. In fact, this team will be lucky to sneak into the playoffs on a cross-over because from the coach on down, they don’t seem to know what to do.

The Riders may have a prairie mile of talent at their disposal, but that talent is about an inch deep as the Toronto Argonauts shelled the Riders 48-15 on Saturday.

The Argonauts demonstrated to the Riders where they need to improve, including running back, a bit on the offensive line, and the entire defense which seemed to play as if they had just left a KFC buffet line with greasy fingers unable to make anything resembling a tackle.

As far as opening nights go, it wasn’t all that bad.

The Riders kicked off their 2014 season with a 31-10 thumping of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on a week one that featured a couple of surprising results. Winnipeg kicked off their season with a win over Toronto, which is important because we are facing Toronto on Saturday, and Edmonton beat BC in BC, which may mean the Eskimos may be for real this year.

The Riders finished their 2014 exhibition season with a resoundingly half-assed 19-14 loss to the god less Edmonton Eskimos and made their cuts on fittingly, the longest day of the year.

That’s one game down and 22 games to go for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

That’s what separates the Riders from their unspoken goal of making history and repeating as Grey Cup Champions following Saturday’s 21-17 win over the Ottawa Redblacks.

It’s Friday the 13th, which should give some sensitive souls pause, but not this correspondent. It is eight years to the day since I had surgery to remove a cancer which had killed my father just five years before. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to see the Riders appear in four Grey Cups, winning two of them. This year I want to add another Grey Cup to that number.

It has been kind of hard getting a column together with a strike vote hanging over the CFL this pre-season.

The latest, that is Friday morning, has the CFL tabling a new offer which will go out to the players and delay a strike vote in Calgary and Edmonton. Considering the vote so far seems to be 98 per cent in favor of striking, maybe the CFL is seeing the Gary Betman school of labour negotiation is not exactly the ideal route to follow.

The hysteria has been amped up by the media types, including former Voice of the Raider and Aberdeen Angus breeder now Voice of the Riders, Rod Pedersen.

As of Friday morning, talks have broken off and it seems players will report for training camp and hit the picket line next week because in Alberta, you need to give 72 hours’ notice before walking. That will allow the Riders to have their ring ceremony tonight where players and club personnel will get their Grey Cup rings and we see, yet again, Weston Dressler here in Regina.

You could hear a pin drop in Regina Thursday morning as everyone stopped work and went on-line to see what the new stadium was going to look like.

Last weekend I was fortunate to entertain Derek Holtom, former Herald reporter now living in Winnipeg and we compared notes about what was wrong with the Investors Field (or Dollarama Field as I like to call it) and how important it was to avoid a similar situation here in Regina.

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