Riders trio gets its kicks in Regina
Buddy system now reaping big dividends
Brett Lauther’s 15 minutes of fame are still ticking away slowly and sweetly, 1.3 seconds at a time, and even now he’s not nearly finished getting his kicks.
He’s finally on a Canadian Football League joyride, but it felt more like a merry-goround for years. The job, the paycheque and his recent relative fame in Saskatchewan is the end product of an odyssey that occasionally defied logic, and was good mostly for his air miles account with varying but mostly fleeting stints in Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton and here, after getting drafted by the Tabbies in 2013.
In this, his third crack at the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ roster, he finally grabbed the brass ring, leaped off that merry-goround and stuck the landing. If you care to torture the metaphor, Jorgen Hus actually snapped the brass ring to Josh Bartel, who held it for Lauther to kick through the uprights: all in a span of 1.3 seconds.
They are a close-knit team of three specialists within a larger team of Roughriders getting ready for the West semifinal against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday. Hus is the gregarious long-snapper from Saskatoon, Bartel the wise-cracking holder and punter from Australia, Lauther the methodical kicker from Truro, N.S.
Not only do they sit side by side by side in a corner of the mammoth Riders dressing room, they also live together in a Regina house, Lauther and his girlfriend in the basement, Hus and Bartel upstairs.
And they all cite the living conditions as a reason for Lauther’s unheralded success. He booted 54 of 60 field goals, including two from 56 yards out. No other CFL kicker made a longer one all year.
“We’re together literally 24/7, but it’s awesome because our personalities really mesh well so we never have any problems that way,” said Hus. “It just helps us on the field. It helps our chemistry. We’re always talking at home. If the timing is off or something isn’t just right, we’re always able to work though it.”
So, does Hus snap the groceries from the trunk of the car to Bartel on the front lawn for Lauther to boot through the open front door?
“You know, I probably would, but when Bartel is done holding and catching (snaps), he’s done, he doesn’t want to do any extra,” said Hus. “If it was up to me I’d be snapping cantaloupes down the aisle, but he holds me back. We’ve got a really good balance that way. He knows when to say when.”
Bartel decided to say ‘when’ a couple of times on Friday in the bitter cold of a Regina afternoon practice at Mosaic Stadium. Hus fired a couple of long snaps back 13 yards to Bartel, who let the ball clang off his helmet.
“The kangaroo mitts were getting a little cold,” said Hus. “He didn’t want to catch those. Those balls were like rocks today. He’s a warm-weather guy.”
Bartel said it was less selfdefence than common sense.
They have a grand time together, wherever they are. At home they make sure to cook and eat together often, especially when it isn’t freezing bloody cold.
“At the start of the season we were cooking heaps because we had the barbecue fired up,” said Bartel, who may have thrown a shrimp on it once or twice. “So it was the barbecue and a couple Coronas to get us through every night.”
Every day at practice, they’re found in a cluster, talking and joking and getting in the appropriate number of reps. Most days after practice they’re in one car headed home, and they all know when to turn off the football talk.
“We don’t really bring too much home with us,” said Lauther. “We try to separate the two. When we need to get some extra work in or video at home, we do that.”
And when somebody calls time out, that’s that.
“Sometimes I like to go a little overboard and keep snapping and snapping but (Bartel) is good at holding me back and saying we put our work in, it’s time to relax, put our feet up, watch a movie, have a beer,” said Hus.
The routine and the living conditions have worked like a charm. Ottawa kicker Lewis Ward was a virtually guaranteed three points this year; Lauther was the next best thing, and he is quick to share it with his housemates, his coaches and fans.
“It hasn’t just been me by any means. It’s a support system back home and out here that have been with me along this ride. I’m just trying to make everything I can for them. I definitely don’t want to let anyone in this room or this province down.”
Roughriders placekicker Brett Lauther attributes his success to a close rapport with his holder Josh Bartel and his long snapper Jorgen Hus.