Rid­ers’ sea­son ex­tended by vet­er­ans

KEY TO LONGEVITY: Glenn and other 30-some­things know how to with­stand im­pacts of a drain­ing sea­son

The Province - - SPORTS - MUR­RAY MC­CORMICK mm­c­cormick@post­media.com twit­ter.com/mur­raylp

OT­TAWA — Age is just a num­ber for a num­ber of key Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers play­ers.

Vet­er­ans like quar­ter­back Kevin Glenn, cor­ner­back Jovon John­son, slot­back Chad Owens and tail­back Mar­cus Thig­pen are among the rea­sons why the Rid­ers are play­ing the Toronto Arg­onauts in Sun­day’s East Di­vi­sion fi­nal. The win­ner ad­vances to the Grey Cup game, Nov. 26 in Ot­tawa.

At 38, Glenn is the league’s old­est player and in his 17th CFL sea­son. The key to his longevity?

“The big­gest thing is mak­ing sure that you’re shape in or­der to with­stand the 18-game sea­son and the play­offs,” Glenn said. “You have to be in the phys­i­cal and men­tal shape to with­stand this kind of sea­son. It’s a long sea­son and it can be drain­ing at times.”

To deal with many as­pects that go into a long sea­son, Glenn has changed his ap­proach to nutri­tion.

“When I was younger I would go to McDon­ald’s and eat burg­ers and fries,” Glenn said. “Now you have to pay at­ten­tion to it be­cause I can’t eat that kind of stuff, then go on the field and play at a high level and put my team in a po­si­tion to be suc­cess­ful.”

At 35, Owens is the sec­ond-old­est Rider on the ac­tive ros­ter. He missed most of the 2017 reg­u­lar sea­son while deal­ing with a lin­ger­ing foot in­jury he suf­fered in 2016 with the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats.

Af­ter Owens was ac­ti­vated for the fi­nal three games of the reg­u­lar sea­son, he played with the en­thu­si­asm of a player 10 years younger.

Be­ing able to play with that pas­sion is tied into how Owens works out.

“It’s a pro­fes­sional ap­proach to ev­ery­thing that we do,” Owens said. “It’s not that young guys don’t have that ap­proach. If you want to start talk­ing about age, it’s a credit to us as vet­er­ans to have the want-to in the off-sea­son to put in the work, eat right, and make the sac­ri­fices. There aren’t any se­crets to suc­cess or do­ing this as long as you want to do it.”

The CFL has many ex­am­ples of play­ers en­joy­ing long ca­reers well into their 30s and be­yond.

“I look at guys like Geroy Si­mon, who did this for as long as he did at a high level,” Owens said. “An­thony Calvillo did it at a high level and so did Da­mon Allen. It’s no se­cret be­cause if you put in the work and com­mit your­self to it, you can go as long as you want to.”

For Owens, that also en­tails work­ing dif­fer­ently than he did in his early days in the CFL.

“Tech­nol­ogy has changed and there are way more things for us to uti­lize in train­ing,” Owens said. “My nutri­tion has al­ways been on point. It’s about work­ing smarter and mak­ing sure you’re do­ing the right things.”

The Rid­ers reaped the ben­e­fits from their 30-some­things in Sun­day’s 31-20 win over the Ot­tawa Red­blacks in the East Di­vi­sion semi­fi­nal. Glenn threw for 252 yards, com­pleted a touch­down pass and rushed for an­other touch­down.

John­son, 34, had one of the Rid­ers’ two in­ter­cep­tions.

Thig­pen, 31, had 15 car­ries for 169 yards and scored on a 75-yard run in the third quar­ter in his sec­ond CFL start as a run­ning back.

Owens had one carry for 19 yards and a key 16-yard re­cep­tion in the fourth quar­ter that sus­tained a Rid­ers drive.

“When you get guys who are play­ing pro foot­ball for so long, the knowl­edge they have is in­valu­able,” of­fen­sive line­man Derek Den­nis said.

— THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Quar­ter­back Kevin Glenn is one of many play­ers 30 or older who are ex­celling for the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers this sea­son.

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