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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WEEK 10 CFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

TORONTO (CP) - Calgary running back Jon Cornish picked up two CFL player of the week awards for his performance in the Stampeders' 28-13 victory over Edmonton on Monday.

Cornish was named both the top offensive player and top Canadian, while Saskatchewan's Ricky Foley earned the defensive player award and Troy Stoudermire was named the top special teams player.

Cornish rushed for a season-high 163 yards and added a touchdown in the Stamps' Labour Day victory over the Eskimos. The 2013 CFL MVP, who was playing in just his third game of the season after being sidelined with a concussion, had 17 carries, averaging 9.6 yards. He ran in a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Foley had a pair of sacks and a tackle, and forced and recovered a fumble in the Roughriders' 35-30 victory over Winnipeg.

The award was the second this season for the Riders' defensive end.

Stoudermire returned a Josh Bartel punt for 64 yards and a touchdown in the Blue Bombers' loss. He had 224 combined return yards on the day.

ESKIMOS-TICATS TRADE

(Edmonton) - The Edmonton Eskimo Football Club has acquired offensive lineman Steve Myddelton in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2015 CFL Canadian Draft and a fourth round pick in the 2016 CFL Canadian Draft. 
 
A six-year veteran, Myddelton spent four seasons (2009-12) with the Calgary Stampeders after being selected in the fourth round (30th overall) of the 2009 CFL Canadian Draft. In 2013, after dressing one game for Calgary, he was traded to the BC where he played 12 regular season games and dressed for the west semi-final.  Myddelton signed with Hamilton as a free agent on Feb. 11, 2014.

SAM TO THE ALS?

He might not be in the St. Louis Rams' plans but defensive end Michael Sam still has options, including playing in the CFL.

Sam is trying to become the NFL's first openly gay player. He was among the Rams' final cuts Saturday, prompting suggestions he'd remain on St. Louis's practice roster.

But Sam, a 2014 seventh-round pick by St. Louis, wasn't included among the 10 players the squad named to its practice roster Monday.

So the six-foot-two, 262-pound Sam could choose to wait for another NFL offer or turn his sights north to the CFL.

Sam, 24, is on the Montreal Alouettes' negotiation list, giving them exclusive rights to the former Missouri star if he chose to play professionally in Canada.

Montreal GM Jim Popp did not immediately respond to an email asking if he's reached out to Sam. But Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network has reported the CFL club has contacted Sam but hasn't heard back from him.

(The Canadian Press)

Monday, September 1, 2014

PATCHAT

THE WEEK THAT WAS
Last week the Pats opened the WHL Pre-Season with the Extreme Hockey Pre-Season Tournament.  It was the first time the Pats hosted a pre-season tournament with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes all attending. 

The Blue and White finished the tournament with an undefeated record through three games.  Opening the tournament Thursday against the Warriors, the Pats rolled to a 9-1 victory on the strength of four point efforts from Connor Gay and Sam Steel. 

Friday's contest against Calgary was much tighter.  The Pats jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Hitmen scored five times in the middle frame to take a 5-3 advantage to the third.  A pair of quick goals from the hosts got the teams even before the Pats eventually prevailed 6-5. 

The tournament finale had the Pats and Hurricanes trading goals until the Pats finally picked up some insurance late in the third en route to a 5-2 win.  Sam Steel led the tournament in scoring with 7 points (4G, 3A) in his two games of action.

THE WEEK AHEAD
Friday, September 5th – Pats at Brandon (6:30 p.m. CST)
The Blue and White play their fourth game of the pre-season and first on the road Friday night against the Brandon Wheat Kings.  It's the first game of the exhibition campaign for the Wheat Kings who opened camp this previous week in Brandon.

Saturday, September 6th – Pats vs. Brandon (Cooperators Centre – 7:00 p.m.)
The Pats and Wheat Kings head to Regina to play the back half of their home and home Saturday night at the Cooperators Centre.  Tickets for Saturday's game are included for Season Ticket Holders.  General admission to the game is $10 for adult tickets and $5 for youth tickets at the door.  The game will be broadcast on 620 CKRM starting at 6:35 p.m.

ROSTER MOVES
Pats reassign goaltender Jordan Hollett ('99)
Pats reassign forward Erik Gardiner ('99)
Pats reassign forward Adam Berg ('97)
Pats reassign defenceman Brady Pouteau ('98)

SEASON TICKET PICK-UP
Season Ticket Booklets will be arriving and available for Season Ticket Holders to pick up later this week.  Keep an eye on ReginaPats.com and Pats social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter) for updates on when you can get your booklets.  The packs include tickets to Saturday's pre-season game against the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Cooperators Centre.  If you haven't yet purchased Season Tickets and are looking for more information, visit ReginaPats.com.

PATS IN THE PROS
As both the NHL and WHL seasons approach it's time for players to head to their professional training camps.  Chandler Stephenson, Morgan Klimchuk, Kyle Burroughs and Dryden Hunt will all depart from the Pats to attend prospect tournaments, rookie camps and full training camps.  Stephenson has his eyes set on playing in the NHL or AHL this season while Klimchuk looks to crack the Calgary Flames roster.  Burroughs (New York Islanders) and Hunt (Carolina Hurricanes) are hoping to earn themselves entry level contracts with good showings.

VOUCHER PACKS
Not ready to be a Season Ticket Holder?  Pick up a Regina Pats Voucher Pack at the Pats Office or Neutral Zone Store.  Vouchers start at $140 for 8-game packs and can be redeemed at the Box Office ahead of any Pats game.  For more information on Voucher Packs, visit ReginaPats.com.

Home Opener Group Tickets
Want to bring your social club, organization or a large group of friends to the Pats Home Opener September 20th?  Find out more information on discounts for groups of 20 or more by calling 306-337-1535 to organize your event today!

IMPORTANT DATES
This Week TBD – Season Ticket Pick Up – Pats Office
Saturday, September 6th – Next Home Pre-Season Game – vs. Brandon (7:00 p.m.) – Cooperators Centre
Saturday, September 20th – Pats Home Opener – vs. Brandon (7:00 p.m.) – Brandt Centre

(Courtesy Daniel Fink/Pats PR)

STAMPEDERS 28 ESKIMOS 13

CALGARY - One of the reasons running back Jon Cornish likes life as a Calgary Stampeder is he doesn't have to face his own defence. It's not a place where there is a lot of daylight.

For the second straight game, and for a fourth game this season, Calgary didn't allow an offensive touchdown in their 28-13 win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Monday.

"People don't even know how good our defence is,'' Cornish said. "It really shifts momentum and it demoralizes the other team. I've said it before. I'll say it again. I do not want to play against our defence.''

The hype for this year's Labour Day clash between Alberta's CFL clubs was justified as it featured two teams tied for both the league and West Division lead.

Calgary moved into sole possession of first place at 8-1 with the win, while the Eskimos dropped into a tie with the Saskatchewan Roughriders at 7-2.

The Stampeders extended their winning streak against their northern rival to 10 in a row, including three straight Labour Day games.

Calgary also bought some playoff insurance by winning the second of three meetings with Edmonton and clinching the season series.

If Calgary is tied in the points with the Eskimos at season's end, the Stampeders would get the higher ranking. The Battle of Alberta continues Saturday in Edmonton in their final meeting of the regular season.

"That's something we talked about all week, was making sure we won the season series against Edmonton,'' Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said.

"It was very big for our guys to come out and get a good win against a great team and pick up some momentum going in to Saturday.''

Mitchell gave the hosts momentum by marching the offence 65 yards to score on the opening drive. The Texan improved to 11-1 in CFL starts. He threw for 252 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown throw to Anthony Parker.

In his second game back since sitting out six with concussion symptoms, Cornish is quickly regaining his form. The CFL's most outstanding player and leading rusher in 2013 ran for 163 yards, including 100 in the first half and a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Edmonton's starting quarterback was a mystery until their offence got the ball. Mike Reilly injured his throwing hand last week in Toronto where Matt Nichols finished off a win against the Argos.

Reilly dressed for Monday's game, but Nichols took the first snaps. Reilly's run of consecutive CFL starts ended at 26, while Nichols completed 18 of 30 passes attempts for 203 yards.

Esks receiver A.J. Guyton dropped two consecutive Nichols throws to him in the end zone in the second quarter. Edmonton settled for a Shaw field goal and trailed by five points at halftime.

"I felt like we were moving the ball, but then kind of stalling out at midfield,'' Nichols said. "We just had some penalties at bad times. I missed on a few throws here and there, a couple dropped balls, just the little things, penalties at the wrong time.

"Those little things add up and can stall out an offence.''

Edmonton mustered 15 first downs to Calgary's 28.

"I just told the guys just now it was the most disappointing part of the year,'' Esks head coach Chris Jones said following the game. "We didn't have the energy that we normally have and we didn't fly around, especially defensively, like we have.''

(Canadian Press)

TICATS 13 ARGOS 12

HAMILTON, Ont. - Zach Collaros had a TD pass against his former team to earn the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a 13-12 win over the Toronto Argonauts in the first-ever game at Tim Hortons Field on Monday.

Collaros appeared in his first game since suffering a concussion July 4 against Edmonton. He also made his first career start against Toronto, the team he had spent the last two seasons with prior to signing with Hamilton this off-season as a free agent.

But the contest was indeed a defensive battle on a sunny, blustery afternoon, less than 16 hours after the City of Hamilton finally signed off on the facility to allow the game to go ahead as scheduled. Toronto (3-7) remains atop the East Division standings but the Ticats (2-6) moved to within two points of first.

Toronto had one last shot to pull out the win, taking the ball at its 32-yard line after recovering Moissis Madu's fumble with 32 seconds remaining but the Ticats tackled Mike Bradwell on the game's final play to preserve the win.

Tim Hortons Field certainly impressed despite sections still remaining a construction zone as work continues there. As a result, the seating capacity for Monday's game was about 18,000 - which included Canadian John Saunders and Chris Berman of ESPN_ roughly 6,000 short of capacity once the facility is finally completed.

But that certainly didn't take away from the party-like atmosphere as fans began their traditional "Argos Suck'' chant shortly after the visitors came to the field, then broke out into a loud rendition of "Oskie Wee Wee,'' after Hamilton's Frederic Plesius recovered Trent Guy's fumble on the opening kickoff to set up Justin Medlock's 29-yard field goal just 1:25 into the contest.

However, the brand of football wasn't anywhere near as impressive as the venue as neither offence could really muster much consistency. Hamilton's problem was penalties and Jeremiah Masoli's costly fumble at the Toronto one-yard line with just over nine minutes remaining and the Ticats looking to add to a 13-12 advantage.

Dropped TD passes by Grant and Madu in the first half didn't help, either.

Toronto's issues were mainly in the return game as the Argos twice lost fumbles. A clear sign of the Argos' offensive woes was quarterback Ricky Ray needing to wait until the fourth quarter to become the youngest player in CFL history to reach the 50,000-yard career mark.

Ray, 34, needed just 90 yards to achieve the milestone but didn't do so until a 37-yard completion to Jason Barnes with just over eight minutes remaining to play.

Hamilton improved to 27-13-1 all-time on Labour Day versus Toronto as both teams donned their signature third jerseys - white and powder blue for Toronto, black with gold numbers for Hamilton.
The second half featured precious little offence as Medlock's conceded safety at 2:34 of the third accounted for all the scoring.

Bakari Grant had Hamilton's touchdown. Medlock had two field goals and a convert.

Trent Guy scored Toronto's touchdown. Swayze Waters added the convert and single, with the other points coming on two safeties.

Ray's 20-yard TD strike to Guy at 14:38 cut Hamilton's half-time lead to 13-10, a score that flattered the Argos given they had just 89 total yards offensively the entire first half, 98 of which came on the Guy touchdown march. The Ticats did their part with two crucial penalties on the drive and were flagged 13 times for 87 yards in the first half alone.

Waters was Toronto's first-half star with an 80-yard punt single and twice putting Hamilton on its one-yard line with booming boots.

Hamilton dominated play in the opening quarter, starting with Plesius' fumble recovery on the opening kickoff then when Collaros hit Grant on a nine-yard TD strike at 7:06 to put the Ticats ahead 10-1. The Tim Hortons Field faithful celebrated the first-ever touchdown at the stadium by throwing the promotional mini footballs they received prior to the contest on to the field.

Ray was 7-of-16 passing for 65 yards while Collaros completed 14-of-18 attempts for 189 yards.

NOTES - Slotback Andre Durie and quarterback Shane Herbert were Toronto's scratches while defensive back Emanuel Davis and offensive lineman Carson Rockhill didn't dress for Hamilton . . . . The two teams didn't play on Labour Day last year due to scheduling issues at both the University of Guelph and Rogers Centre. As a result, the Hamilton-Toronto Labour day clash was Kent Austin's first as the Ticats head coach/GM . . . A sign of the situation at Tim Hortons Field. Ticats owner Bob Young donned a suit Monday but also sported steel-toed shoes, appropriate given the work that remains at the facility.

(Canadian Press)

MOSAIC PLACE RECAP: RIDERS 35 BOMBERS 30


REGINA - Weston Dressler is once again a Roughrider, but the fan favourite's return was a footnote on a Labour Day Classic dominated by Saskatchewan's ground attack.

Running back Anthony Allen's 15-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds remaining in the game proved to be the crucial score for the Riders in their 35-30 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.

"It's probably not very pretty and it has a lot of people saying our offence is sputtering, but a win is a win,'' said Roughriders left guard Brendon LaBatte, whose team's sixth win in a row moved them into a three-way tie for first place in the West Division with a 7-2 record.

"We're doing what we need to do to get a win, and if that means running the ball then we'll do that. We have the group here to get that done.''

Winnipeg's Lirim Hajrullahu kicked a 41-yard field goal with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter that gave the Bombers a slim 30-28 advantage. It was Hajrullahu's third field goal of the quarter and one that forced the Riders to come up with a late score to appease the 33,427 fans in attendance.

Allen, Darian Durant and Jerome Messam all rushed the ball on the decisive scoring drive. Durant put the ball in the air just twice, but otherwise leaned on his offensive line and stable of running backs to get the job done.

"It meant a lot for me for the coaches to trust me in that situation by giving me the ball,'' said Allen, who was bumped on the depth chart after a fumble earlier in the season.

"We know we have a great quarterback and he told us to keep being patient and that this game would eventually come to us. He would put the ball in our hands when the time came and for me that time came late in the fourth quarter.''

Saskatchewan head coach Corey Chamblin admitted he was looking to exhaust the clock and maybe win the game with a last-second field goal.

The Riders rushed for 160 yards in the game, led by Messam's 64 yards. Allen chipped in with 38 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, with 23 yards coming on the final drive. Allen's first touchdown was a three-yard run in the third quarter. Dressler, meanwhile, had three catches for 28 yards as the Riders eased the slotback back into the lineup following his return Thursday from NFL training camp with Kansas City.

"This is what this group is all about,'' LaBatte said. "When the game is on the line, whether it's running out the clock or driving for the win, we're getting stronger as the game goes on.

"We took the game over along the ground. That's always our goal.''

Durant finished 14-for-26 passing for 204 yards and a touchdown, while Blue Bombers quarterback Drew Willy went 15 for 23 for 171 yards and one interception.

Winnipeg (6-4) trailed 14-7 at halftime and 21-7 midway through the third quarter before it rallied with a Willy touchdown run, followed by a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown from Troy Stoudermire. The Blue Bombers then assumed a 27-21 thanks to field goals from Hajrullahu.

Saskatchewan responded with a 59-yard touchdown strike to receiver Taj Smith that put the home team back in front 28-27 with 5:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. Hajrullaha struck again from 41 yards out with 2:58 to go, setting the table for the Riders' offence.

The Riders defence limited Nic Grigsby, the CFL's leading rusher, to 68 yards rushing and one touchdown on 15 carries.

(The Canadian Press)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

MULLINDER'S LABOUR DAY PRIMER

By: Luc Mullinder

"It's...About…To…Go…Down"
- JAY Z-

That quote, from one of the greatest rappers ever to bless a microphone, pretty much sums up the next two weeks in the CFLs best division. A wafer thin 2 points currently separate the first place team in the West Division and its fourth place team.

The best part for CFL fans, and you Ridernation, is that all four squads are about to kick off a home-at-home showcase for the ages. We don't have to wait long. Kick-off is a few hours away.

Winnipeg vs. Saskatchewan will get this important 2 game stretch going under the watchful eyes of an entire country.

Labour Day weekend, followed by the "Banjo Bowl" is a heavily anticipated time of year in Saskatchewan. There's always incentive for a player to perform at a high level in this production based business, but the atmosphere that is created by the Bombers and Riders fans during this time, generates the feel of a major college conference rivalry.

The stakes have been bumped up a little, now that important "positioning" within the division has been thrown into the mix. As a former player, my favourite part of the week leading up to the game, was seeing all the people wearing Winnipeg jerseys slowly start to trickle in from Manitoba. Hearing fans taking verbal jabs at each other while out and about was always funny.

It's nice playing in a game that means so much too so many people. There was always some type of Labour Day party or gathering going on that I had to restrain myself from being a part of. Tickets for this game always seem to be in higher demand, and there's always a ton of things going on after the game that guys used to make a mental note of...It's definitely a great time for fans and players alike.

What's most important, even with all the cool things that come along with the Labour Day classic and the Banjo Bowl that precedes it, is for the guys involved, to not get too caught up in the emotions of the atmosphere. It is, after all, just another game.

One can't get over excited sprinting out onto the field amongst the fireworks and the blaring music, it saps valuable energy and throws a players optimum playing levels all out of whack. The first two or three plays of a game like this can't be spent trying to calm oneself down a bit.

The roar and excitement of the Labour Day game crowd can sometimes lead to over-anxious mistakes that can prove costly. Younger players sometimes let themselves get caught up in the moment, luckily there is a plethora of experienced vets on the Riders roster that will add the calming demeanour that is required to "stay on schedule" and play an effective game early on, while the emotional dust settles.

As always, no matter what the storylines are, the goal is to be 1-0 on Sunday. Players have spent the majority of the week watching film from the first time these two squads met, and aside from a few adjustments here and there, the formula for the Riders will be the same as last game:

1) Run the rock with an emphasis on ball security. (This is an opponent that preaches going for the ball in an effort to cause turnovers)

2) Force the Bombers into a one dimensional air attack and let Dline pressure cause mistakes and incompletes.

3) Know the opponent. Head Coach Mike O'Shea is a brilliant mind who understands crowds and positioning. The Riders have to be alert in ALL special teams situations for any funny business. Successful fakes will be detrimental to the outcome of this game.

We'll take a quick look into some key guys and ideas, and then get to the tail gating! Enjoy the game Ridernation. Never mind the traditional "Riders win this game, and then lose the Banjo Bowl game" rhetoric.

The Riders have a great shot at stringing two wins in a row together here. After Sept. 7th, depending on how the other West Division home-at-home clash goes, we may be reading this from the top of the CFL standings…

• OFFENSE

It's going to be interesting to watch how Winnipeg addresses its run defence this week. Gary Etcheverry and his troops have been shaky all year, and it proved costly during the first meeting between these two rivals. Dan Plaster and I spoke briefly on Riderville.com about why the Riders run game can, and has been, successful against the Bombers defensive unit and it will be something that I look forward to watching closely, for the duration of the game.

Whenever Saskatchewan attacks down hill, as opposed to stretching the action towards the outside of the tackle box, there is the potential for big chunks of yardage. This bodes well against Winnipeg, because having an offence try to get to the edges of the Oline or wider is exactly what they want a team to do. The Bomber D wants to funnel running backs to certain areas and players, namely Ian Wild and Maurice Leggett.

They employ a number of ways to do this, but it all comes down to controlling the available gaps to a RB and essentially giving him one option by extracting all open space by filling it with bodies.
This strategy is made much easier, the more an offensive lineman has to move, so stretch plays to the outside play into the Bombers hands well.

What gives Winnipeg trouble is defending against straight ahead runs, like dives, that are aimed behind the guards and centres. By choosing to run straight ahead into anything the Bombers are trying to do, whether it's slanting the Dlinemen into certain gaps or lining up in an odd formation late, the Riders nullify the Winnipeg strategy and allow the Oline to make key chip blocks onto 2nd level linebackers.

All it takes is a split second of patience for an RB to let the play develop and lanes will definitely open up because of the way Winnipeg moves around.

Just like the last time, the Green and White need a healthy dose of downhill attack, in order to stay away from the 2nd and 6+ play sheet that gets very creative and tricky from the Etcheverry defensive staff.

Dan Clark #77

'Touchdown Dan' makes his 2nd start of the year at Right Guard for Chris Best. After his performance during his last start, the coaches probably feel great about his ability to step in and fill this void.

The key for any Olinemen when they play Winnipeg is to not chase ghosts, meaning just because the formation looks one way, doesn't mean you can lock in on a certain player.

Many times, a D-linemen that lines up in your vicinity will be vacating at the snap of the ball. One has to know that another player will always be replacing the space he leaves. Sometimes, nobody even lines up over you, and if that happens, someone will be in your assigned area very shortly.

A player's eyes and hands have to be up and alert at all times. Clark needs to play physical, like he was bred too, and most of all, play with confidence. If a player hesitates and over thinks a formation or assignment, he plays right into the hands of an opportunistic defence.

Weston Dressler #7

Welcome back! I'm excited and sad to see Weston back in the line-up. I really believe that he has the ability to play at the NFL level and wish he had more of an opportunity to showcase his portfolio. That being said, #7 handled the transition well and more importantly, is doing what he loves to do…Play Football and compete.

It's not often that a player has an affect on an ENTIRE playbook (scheme wise) but that's what Weston brings to the table. It's tough to scheme against the Riders already. Accounting for Dresslers whereabouts every down just makes things tougher on staffs and defenders.

• DEFENCE

There's nothing really to say here. The defence just has to continue doing what they have been. Sure, Winnipeg has a couple different players in the line up this time around, but the make-up of this team hasn't changed.

They need to have success in the air because of their inability to control the game on the ground. Against the Rider defence, that particular strategy is definitely worst case scenario. As always, it will start up front. The defensive line needs to create pressure and force Willy to make bad throws. He may complete a few of them, and he may make some big plays, however, over the course of 4 Quarters, all the Riders need to do is create one or two momentum changing turnover, and this game will tip in Saskatchewan's favour.

• "Bend but don't break" #ItsAboutWhatWeDo

Another important thing of note will be the 3rd down personnel the Riders employ between the 35 yards lines. In order for Winnipeg to win, they will need a substantial contribution from its special teams.

I would suspect that Mike O'shea has asked his special teams coordinator to have some Punt and FG fakes ready to go if the time is right. If the Riders are in 3rd and short situations, expect their Defence to remain on the field, in order to discourage any shenanigans from the Bomber play books.

Team Equipment Manager Gordon Gilroy gave me a quick look at the small adjustments to the retro fits that the Roughriders will don during today's match-up. But make no mistake; there is nothing subtle about this edition of the Labour Day classic. The start of this game will be a violent physical clash that pad popping enthusiasts salivate over. But it's a four quarter deal!

In order to win, one will have to impose their will over the other for the entire game.
Today's not about making spectacular TSN highlight reel moments; it's not about the fanfare and hoopla that comes along with this storied rivalry. It's about getting a win.

Whether it's through the air, or on the ground, the only thing that makes these Labour Day games special is the result. For the 42 guys who suit up today on either side of the field, it's a game that they hear about all year. Playing it however is a much different story.

See you at the beer gardens Ridernation. Cups up to the fellas going 1-0 this week.

#ProPerspective

BOMBERS WARY OF DRESSLER


WINNIPEG (CP) - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers haven't managed to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders on the Labour Day weekend in nine years, and the return of receiver Weston Dressler to the Saskatchewan lineup certainly isn't improving their chances this Sunday.

"Him having option routes or whatever it may be, he knows how to get open, he knows how to make plays, he's just a special player in that regard,'' Bombers defensive back Chris Randle said.

Dressler returned to Saskatchewan after he was released by the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. The Roughriders released him in January so he could try again to crack the NFL.

The native of Bismarck, N.D., has spent his entire six-year CFL career with Saskatchewan and has topped 1,000 yards in five of those seasons.

Veteran defensive back Johnny Sears says the Bombers very much want to end their Labour Day weekend losing streak but, more importantly, they're also jockeying for a playoff spot as they return to the CFL West this year.

The Bombers (6-3) and the Roughriders (6-2) can't afford to let up as they try to catch the division-leading Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos (both 7-1). And the B.C. Lions (5-4) aren't that far behind.

Most of Winnipeg's six wins have come at the expense of opponents from the East. B.C. is the only western team on the list.

Dressler adds to the passing threat this Sunday but the Bombers also have had special trouble dealing with the running game this season.

The Roughriders put 186 rushing yards on the board in their 23-17 Aug. 7 win and held Winnipeg running back Nic Grigsby, the leading rusher in the league right now, to just seven.

"We'll have a heavy does of that coming up this week, (Jerome) Messam had a good little game against us last time,'' says Sears.

Messam had 126 of those 186 yards and Sears says they have work to do as they try to close things up.

"I think it's just the little things of everybody just making sure our run defence is sound. You can't fill a certain way when you don't have help. You've got to make sure you have help.''

Meanwhile, it looked for a few minutes Thursday as though Winnipeg coach Mike O'Shea might have some of the same concerns his Regina counterpart Corey Chamblin has had this week.

Like the Roughriders Darian Durant, Bombers' quarterback Drew Willy hurt his throwing hand. But while Durant, injured last Sunday, has been cautious to commit to this Sunday's game, O'Shea says Willy reported being fine and will practice Friday and play Sunday.

He hurt his hand near the end of a long practice that stretched more than two hours but O'Shea says he has no regrets about working the team hard.

"We needed those last six plays, we did, and they were going very well up until that point and then (backup) Brian (Brohm) stepped in did well, Brian stepped in and I don't think he missed a beat,'' said O'Shea.

"You've got to keep going. Everybody needs the reps.''

Willy, who was Durant's backup in Regina until he landed the starting slot in Winnipeg, is the No. 2 passer in the league this season with 2,358 yards, behind only Toronto's Ricky Ray.

LABOUR DAY CLASSIC PREVIEW


WINNIPEG (6-3) AT SASKATCHEWAN (6-2)
2:00 pm Sunday, Mosaic Stadium, Regina
TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network, ESPN3

RIDERS: Home 3-1, Versus West 3-1
BOMBERS: Road 3-1, Versus West 1-2

RIDER OFFENSE: RUSH 1ST, PASS 8TH, OVERALL 5TH
QB Darian Durant is 7th in CFL passing (1511 yds, 7 TDs, 5 INTs) ... WR Rob Bagg leads the club in receiving (414 yds, 1 TD) ... RB Will Ford is the team's leading rusher (365 yds, 5 TDs) ... The Riders are #6 in points scored and #2 in fewest sacks allowed

BOMBER OFFENSE: RUSH 9TH, PASS 2ND, OVERALL 7TH
QB Drew Willy is #2 in CFL passing (2358 yds, 10 TDs, 8 INTs) ... REC Clarence Denmark is #2 in CFL receiving (591 yds, 1 TD) ... RB Nic Grigsby is the CFL's #1 rusher (489 yds, 6 TDs) ... The Bombers are #1 in points scored and #9 in sacks allowed

RIDER DEFENSE: RUSH 3RD, PASS 7TH, OVERALL 4TH
DE John Chick is the CFL's sack leader (12) .... DB Mark Legree leads the team in INTs (3) ... S Tyron Brackenridge, LB Sam Hurl and LB Brian Peters all lead the club in tackles (29) ... Chick leads in Tackles For Loss (7) ... The Riders are #3 in fewest points allowed and are #1 in sacks (32)

BOMBER DEFENSE: RUSH 6TH, PASS 4TH, OVERALL 6TH
DE Greg Peach is their sack leader (5) ... S Maurice Leggett leads the league in INT (5) ... Bombers are #6 in points allowed and #5 in sacks

RIDER SPEC TEAMS: K Chris Milo is 19/25 on field goals and has a 60.3 yard kickoff average ... P Josh Bartel's average is 45.0 which is 4th-ranked.  Tristan Jackson leads the team in PR and KR yards ... DE Dylan Ainsworth and LB Shomari Williams lead the team in ST tackles (8)

BOMBER SPEC TEAMS:  K/P Lirim Hajrullahuh is 16/17 on field goals and has a 43.4 yard punting average ... Aaron Woods leads in PR and KR yards

INTANGIBLES:  Riders are a CFL-best +13 in turnover ratio while the Bombers are 7th (-5) ... The Riders won 23-17 in Winnipeg three weeks ago ... Saskatchewan has won nine straight Labour Day Classics and is 31-16 all-time ... The forecast calls for a high of 20 degrees Celsius and a 30% chance of showers or a thunderstorm ... The Riders are favoured by seven points ... The referee is Andre Proulx.

RP

(Photo courtesy Canadian Press)

PRESEASON: PATS 5. HURRICANES 2

The final game of the Regina Pats' Extreme Hockey preseason tournament at Regina's Cooperators Arena got off to a slow start Saturday evening with just one goal in the opening twenty minutes.

Jaeger White capitalized on a 2-on-1 opportunity to give Lethbridge the early advantage.  The pace picked up in the second when 16-year old Luc Smith laid a huge hit on Reid Duke who playing in his first game back with the Hurricanes.

The Pats squared the contest when Sam Steel batted a puck out of mid-air and into the goal.  The Blue and White took the lead when Jared McAmmond scored on a 2-on-1 shorthanded.  It was short-lived as Riley Sheen would even the game just four minutes later.  In the third, Steel would score again after he worked his way into the slot and fired past Jonny Hogue.

Adam Brooks added some insurance late in the frame before Patrick D’Amico iced the contest with an empty net goal for the Pats to finish the tournament undefeated.  Sam Steel finished the Extreme Hockey Pre-Season Tournament with 7 points (4G, 3A) to lead the WHL in preseason scoring.

The Pats’ next pre-season game comes on the road in Brandon Friday, September 5th followed by their next home date Saturday September 6th at the Cooperators Centre.  Tickets for game are included for Season Ticket holders.  General Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for youth tickets.

(Courtesy Daniel Fink/Pats PR)

SUNDAY SPORTS

CFL: Rivalry Weekend in the Canadian Football League continues on Sunday as the 6-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders host the 6-3 Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Labour Day Classic XLVIII.  The Riders have won nine straight LDC's and are 31-16 all-time on this weekend.

The Roughriders have activated slotback Weston Dressler for the clash, four days after signing him to a free agent deal.  Darian Durant will start at quarterback for Saskatchewan.

Kickoff is 2:00 on TSN and the CKRM Rider Radio Network.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL:  Second-ranked Alabama and No. 5 Ohio State were able to win their season openers while unveiling their new quarterbacks.

Blake Sims performed well in the Crimson Tide's 33-23 win against West Virginia, completing 24 of his 33 passes for 250 yards and rushing for 42 yards. Sims was able to find Amari Cooper 12 times for 130 yards, while T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry combined to run for 239 yards and three touchdowns.

Alabama's defence surrendered 365 passing yards but held the Mountaineers to 28 yards on 24 carries.

J.T. Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes picked up their 25th consecutive regular-season win, beating Navy 34-17 in Baltimore. Barrett ran for 50 yards and completed 12 of his 15 passes, including an 80-yard TD toss to Devin Smith.

Darron Lee returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

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NFL: The St. Louis Rams have cut Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

The Rams selected the SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri with the 249th overall pick out of 256 overall during May's draft. Sam came out as gay following his final season at Missouri.

The defensive end played well in spurts during preseason but couldn't make a team stocked with pass-rushers.

Meanwhile San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has apologized to the organization and its fans after receiving a nine-game suspension from the NFL for a series of off-field legal issues.

Smith has issued a statement saying he has learned a lot and is working hard to grow from his experiences.

Smith missed five games last season to undergo treatment at an inpatient facility following his DUI arrest Sept. 20. In November, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home.

Smith also was arrested April 13 at Los Angeles International Airport for allegedly making a bomb threat. No charges were filed.

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MLB:  Baltimore padded its A-L East lead and did some post-season prep as well. The Orioles have an eight-game advantage atop the division after a 3-2 win over Minnesota. The O's also made a pair of trades for Boston infielder Kelly Johnson and Chicago White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza.

Jake Peavy took a no-hitter into the eighth inning as San Francisco beat Milwaukee 3-1. Mark Reynolds ended the no-no bid in the eighth. Elsewhere in baseball, the Blue Jays shut out the New York Yankees 2-0. And the L-A Angels won their fifth straight 2-0 against rival Oakland. L-A is now four games ahead of the A's in the competitive A-L West.

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U.S. OPEN:  Canada's best tennis players are both into the fourth round of the U-S Open. Milos Raonic needed three tiebreak sets to get past Victor Estrella Burgos on the men's side. Eugenie (yo Bouchard meanwhile defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in women's play.

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PGA:  Ryan Palmer and Jason Day are co-leaders at the midway point of the PGA's Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston.

Palmer followed Friday's 8-under 63 with an even-par 71 to stay atop the leaderboard. Day had a chance to take the outright lead until he bogeyed his final hole for a 3-under 68.

Matt Kuchar and Billy Horschel are one stroke back and one ahead of five others.

(The Associated Press)