Ar­gos ig­nite mem­o­ries for Rid­ers

The London Free Press - - SPORTS -

REGINA — Ed Gainey still can’t shake a mo­ment from the Toronto Arg­onauts win­ning touch­down drive dur­ing last year’s CFL East Di­vi­sion fi­nal.

The Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers de­fen­sive back re­mem­bers team­mate Wil­lie Jef­fer­son get­ting his hand on a Ricky Ray pass and tip­ping it, giv­ing Gainey a chance for an in­ter­cep­tion.

The po­ten­tial pick didn’t work out and Toronto beat the Rid­ers 25-21 be­fore go­ing on to win the Grey Cup the fol­low­ing week against Calgary.

“It’s just one of those things where you feel like you left the play out there and hope­fully it won’t hap­pen again,” Gainey said ahead of Fri­day’s sea­son-open­ing re­match against Toronto.

“We just look­ing to move for­ward and build off of last sea­son.”

Gainey said that last year’s East fi­nal comes up ev­ery now and again in meet­ings, al­though the team is try­ing to leave that game be­hind them. “We’re chas­ing what they have.”

Saskatchewan en­ters Week 1 with gen­eral man­ager/head coach Chris Jones hav­ing yet to name a start­ing quar­ter­back. Zach Col­laros, ac­quired by the Rid­ers in Jan­uary from the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats, is No. 1 on the depth chart, al­though Jones said that didn’t mean he would start against Toronto.

Col­laros has com­peted with Cana­dian Bran­don Bridge through train­ing camp and pre­sea­son for the start­ing job. Bridge com­bined with Kevin Glenn to lead the Rid­ers into the play­offs in 2017. Al­though Jones wouldn’t name the starter, he joked that Col­laros would play on the de­fen­sive line.

“They (Col­laros and Bridge) know what the roles are and they know ex­actly how things are go­ing to work out,” Jones said. “We know for sure that both of them are very good foot­ball play­ers so we look for­ward to see­ing them go per­form to­mor­row night.”

The Roughrid­ers will have dif­fer­ent re­ceiv­ing core than last sea­son after cut­ting veter­ans Rob Bagg, Bakari Grant and Chad Owens on Sun­day. Duron Carter and Naa­man Roo­sevelt re­main solid op­tions, with Carter wrack­ing up 73 re­cep­tions for 1,043 yards and eight touch­downs in his first sea­son with Saskatchewan last year. Roo­sevelt also had eight TDs and 1,035 re­ceiv­ing yards.

Col­laros said that with the re­cent cuts, it al­lows for younger play­ers such as Caleb Hol­ley, who is in his third CFL sea­son, to step up.

“It’s kind of a lux­ury when you have a veteran group, but at the same time, those guys are get­ting an op­por­tu­nity and they’re go­ing to make the most of it,” Col­laros said.

Arg­onauts coach Marc Trest­man said his team has great re­spect for both Col­laros and Bridge. He said both QBs have good arm strength and can run well.

“We’re pre­pared for both guys,” Trest­man said. “Both are ex­cep­tional. I don’t think they lose any­thing with ei­ther quar­ter­back play­ing.”

Ar­gos veteran quar­ter­back Ray, en­ter­ing his 16th sea­son, didn’t play in Toronto’s two pre­sea­son games. Ray, 38, said that he still gets ner­vous and ex­cited to start the sea­son.

“You kind of have those but­ter­flies and want­ing to per­form well,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be sit­ting in the locker-room to­mor­row hav­ing those same feel­ings that I’ve had through­out ev­ery game of my ca­reer.”

Gainey said that Ray is a savvy player, but be­lieves the Rough rid­ers can stop him.

“He doesn’t have the arm that he used to have so we’re go­ing to try to play top-down and come down and rally up and make tack­les,” Gainey said.


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