Pick of the Day: Riders Vs. Stampeders

From 1967-71 the Riders and Stampeders met in five consecutive West Conference finals. This was back in the day when the final was a best two-out-of-three affair, and the teams certainly had some memorable battles. In 1967 and 1969, it was the Riders, who featured the legendary tandem of QB Ron Lancaster and RB George Reed, who emerged victorious, while in 1968 and 1970-71 it was the Stamps, who were led by the fearsome LB Wayne Harris and wily QB Jerry Keeling, who advanced to the Grey Cup. Now, after a 38-year hiatus the teams meet again in the 2009 West final.

Last week I caught the West semi-final between Calgary and Edmonton with a couple of long-time Riders fans. When I asked them which team they'd rather face in the final they were unsure. On paper, the Stamps were definitely the superior team. But the game isn't played on paper. And when Esk QB Ricky Ray is on his game, as he often seems to be against the Riders, he can pick defences apart at will.

When Stamp QB Henry Burris is on, he too is a formidable force. But if you get enough heat on him, he can be rattled. Certainly, in the first-place showdown on Nov. 7 the Riders did a fine job of containing him, and although West Conference MVP nominee Joffrey Reynolds racked up some impressive yardage, the Riders still won 30-14. If the defence can rise to the occasion again, and the offence under West all-star QB Darian Durant can move the ball effectively and avoid turnovers, the Riders have an excellent chance of winning. Last year in the West semi-final, the B.C. Lions forced two early turnovers by then Rider QB Michael Bishop that took the crowd out of the game. If that happens here, the Riders could be in trouble. One final factor in the Riders' favour is that lately they've been getting some big plays on special teams. If Jason Armstead manages to break a return or three, it will go a long way to helping the Riders win the field position battle. Kick-off at Mosaic Stadium is 3:30 p.m.

Assuming the Riders win, and you're in the mood for a post-game party (or if they lose and you want to drown your sorrows) The Arkells are playing with the Novaks at the Exchange tonight. Here's the video for "The Ballad of Hugo Chavez" off the former's second album Jackson Square. (YouTube)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The City of Regina is holding a pep rally to honour the Saskatchewan Roughriders as they make their way to the 97th Grey Cup Championship. The rally takes place Monday, Nov 23rd @ 4 pm at City Hall. The public is invited to join in showing our support as they fight to bring home the cup. We will be filming a group singing of “Green is the Colour” as well as individual crowd messages to send the Riders off to the Grey Cup.