Sunday, July 29, 2007

Accountable to a T

The braintrust of the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been preaching accountability since day one of training camp. Yesterday we saw the results at Mosaic Stadium. With a couple of underperforming players moved out of starting roles, the team responded with a 54-14 thrashing of the Edmonton Eskimos. Young Jacob is rightfully ticked he missed this game. I suspect he won't be doing that again!

The Riders excelled in every aspect of the game - offense, defense and special teams. Well, Luca Congi missed another short field goal, but now we're nitpicking. Newly activated Kyle Mitchell was a holy terror at defensive end, notching a blocked punt (and subsequent touchdown), an interception and numerous outstanding plays in shutting down Edmonton's running and passing attacks. Can you say CFL defensive player-of-the-week? Mind you, Mitchell was starting because John Chick's performance had started to slide in recent games, and Chick was moved off the active roster. Accountability.

Oh, and here's a little message for the lady who kept squirting my friend Kevin and I with her water spray bottle every few minutes, while the blazing sun beat down on us. I love you. Seriously.

Now, it's a trip to Vancouver to tangle with the unbeaten Lions on Thursday night. Two top teams going at it head-to-head? Doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, July 27, 2007

What happens this week?

Quite a tumultuous week in Riderville! Lots going on, in the wake of that disastrous loss in Edmonton last weekend:

  • Andy Fantuz gets demoted to backup status - he'll be given every opportunity to shake his case of the dropsies, and will be back in the starting lineup by Labour Day at the latest.
  • Wes Cates is named the starting tailback. No surprise, really. Cates was the bright spot for the Riders' offense last week.
  • Eddie Davis is on the 9-game injury list. This one hurts an awful lot.
  • Eric Tillman and a message board poster get into a nasty public spat, then kiss and make up by mid-week. Rod Pedersen's matchmaking service scores another win!

I fully expect the Riders to come out flying tomorrow, and hopefully maintain that intensity for a full four quarters. It's a crying shame young Jacob won't be there. He'll be missing his first Rider game in two years, as he's dragged off to some sort of Appalachian hootenanny. Poor kid.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Davis out long term

Saskatchewan Roughrider defensive back Eddie Davis has been placed on the 9 game injury list, creating a huge hole in the defensive backfield. Davis injured his shoulder in Friday night's game against Edmonton. It's expected Lance Frazier will get the first crack at trying to replace the veteran stalwart. Trying to compensate for the loss of Davis' onfield leadership abilities is another matter entirely.

SportZone lineup for July 23

A jam-packed show! Because of the summer production slowdown, the show airs Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. this week and the following two weeks. Here's the lineup:

SportZone Guests for July 23/07
Community Co-Host – Carlo Palazzo

1. A preview of the 2007 U14/U16 National All Stars SoccerChampionship, July 24-29 in Regina. Guests: Bill Gallagher (Event Chair), Kevin Wagner & Dave McCarthy (Team Sask Coaches).

2. A chat with a Regina Pats alumnus currently toiling in the NHL. Guest: Jamie Heward (NHL defenceman).

3. A member of the Stanley Cup Champions brings the mug back home to Regina. Guest: Chris Kunitz (Anaheim Ducks forward).

4. A preview of the 2007 Regina Thunder junior football training camp. Guest: Erwin Klempner (Head Coach).

5. Saskatchewan’s two junior B hockey leagues join forces, amalgamating as the Prairie Junior Hockey League. Guest: Rory Hoffman (PJHL President).

6. Local track athletes have been making a mark nationally, and internationally, this summer. Guests: Terry Mountjoy (Excel Athletika Head Coach) & Carol Lafayette-Boyd (Masters athlete).

7. Local golf course operators are having a great summer so far! Guest: Brad Herridge (SportZone golf guru).

8. The Prairie Fire rugby club gears up for the final game of the Super League season. Guests: Caine Elisara (Player/Coach).

Friday, July 20, 2007

What the hell was that?

Wow. The Saskatchewan Roughriders gagged on a 20-1 lead, and lost 21-20 in Edmonton tonight. The Rider offense was almost unstoppable in the first half, and completely impotent in the 2nd. The Eskies offense was the exact opposite, as Ricky Ray caught fire after the intermission.

Here's the basics:
  • Andy Fantuz - please remove your head from your ass. Please.
  • Kerry Joseph - when the defense sends the house, getting rid of the ball quickly is usually a good thing to do. It's what the smart quarterbacks do.
  • Wes Cates - congratulations, the starting tailback job is yours.
  • Anybody else miss last year's offensive line?
  • Fred Perry - you're a stud. Can we clone you?
  • Tucker and Acree were hobbled, and the Riders still couldn't cover them in the 2nd half!
  • Luca Congi misses a chip shot field goal at the end of the first half - it bounces off the upright, so the Riders don't even get a point for the miss. Lo and behold, they lose by one.
  • D.J. Flick - go offside much?

Last week, the B.C. Lions were clearly the better team. This week, the game was handed to the opposition by moronic mental mistakes (alliteration intentional). Can't wait to see how the braintrust reacts to this meltdown.

Taking on the evil empire

I like the Saskatchewan Roughriders' chances of knocking off the Eskimos in Edmonton tonight. The Riders haven't won a regular season game in Schmoeville since...2000? It's high time for that string of futility to end.

Look for the good Kerry Joseph to play quarterback tonight. Hopefully bad Kerry is locked in one of Norm Fong's tickle trunks back at Mosaic Stadium - and somebody threw away the key. If the defense can get in Ricky Ray's face - and if Tucker and Acree don't suit up - Edmonton could be hard pressed to score more than a dozen points. I'll take those odds.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekend in review

Wow, did the Saskatchewan Roughriders come crashing down to earth hard on Friday night! It's impossible to single out just one player for the goathorns - there were many, many worthy candidates in the 42-12 thumping by the B.C. Lions. Kerry Joseph was quite awful at quarterback. Marcus Crandell replaced him in the 2nd half and threw three interceptions. Andy Fantuz continues to drop catchable balls. Is he trying to fill the void created by the departure of Jason French?

So, now that the Riders have some idea of the depth of the fall-off between the top team in the league and the also-rans, it's time to get back to work. Friday night they visit the highly beatable Edmonton Eskimos, then host the same Eskies the following week. It's very possible the green gang could be 4-1 after that. I don't imagine too many fans would object to that!

And, one final Rider-related point - please consider this an open invitation to Riders GM Eric Tillman to appear on an upcoming episode of SportZone on Access 7. I have not yet had the opportunity to interview "ET", and would very much like to do so. Any time the team gets an opportunity to connect with a segment of the ticket-buying public, I would suggest is a good thing.

On Saturday I took part in the Davis Cup tournament at the Lakeshore Tennis Club. I captained Team Poland to a less than glorious outcome. But, a good time was had by all - despite the oppressive heat. Today was spent recuperating and listening to Carm Carteri's plans for sprucing up the Regina Court and Fitness Club. The new outside colour scheme is just the start!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

SportZone lineup for July 9

Here's the lineup for the show, airing Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. on Access channel 7 - this week and next:

SportZone Guests for July 9/07
Community Co-Host – Tim Hubic

1. An update on the provincial lacrosse scene. Guest: Curt Keil (Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association Executive Director).

2. A pair of Regina high school football stars commit to the U of R Rams for the 2007 season. Guest: Marc Mueller (Rams quarterback) & Jason Price (Rams receiver).

3. A profile of the Touch Regina Youth (TRY) football league. Guest: Mark Budinski (League Commissioner).

4. The North Regina Little League launches a new division for developmentally challenged kids. Guests: Drew Filyk & Patty Filyk (NRLL Executive).

5. A preview of the 2007 Regina Thunder training camp. Guests: Andrew Sinclair (Offensive Lineman) & Jamie Lofthang (Defensive lineman).

6. The U of R men’s hockey team lands some top recruits for the 2007 season. Guest: Blaine Sautner (Head Coach) & Kyle Deck (Prize recruit).

7. The Prairie Fire rugby club gets set for the final two games of the Super League regular season. At stake, a berth in the national final! Guests: Brennan Daku & Shawn Hansen (players).

Monday, July 09, 2007

The boys are back in town!

Jacob and I (thanks to delays with Air Canada - what else is new!) touched down in Regina 90 minutes before kickoff at Mosaic Stadium yesterday. Thanks to Jo Dojack for picking us up, and guaranteeing we'd make the game. We even managed to overcome an "invalid ticket" fiasco at the gate, and make it to our seats a couple minutes before the national anthem.

And what a game! I can honestly say I did not expect the Riders to manhandle the Stamps like that. 49-8, wow. There are some real holes on that Calgary depth chart, and the Riders exposed all of them. Next up, the defending champion B.C. Lions invade Mosaic Stadium Friday night. Should be a great early season showdown.

As for the holiday - it was fantastic. Needless to say, I loved having my boy all to myself for a week and a half. I'm in serious Jacob withdrawal today. And the munchkin also had a great time, with the possible exception of the half day we spent doing yardwork and other chores for his grandma...

And if you think Regina's got a serious graffitti problem, try visiting London, Ontario some time. You cannot drive two blocks without seeing public property that's been tagged by graffitti "artists". Losers, actually. What an eyesore for an otherwise beautiful city.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Checking out the Knight life

The Jakester and I are on holidays in London, Ontario until next Sunday. Thankfully, the obscene heat and humidity moved on the day before we arrived. That's not the best environment for an asthmatic kid and his full-figured dad!

I can't help but notice how the London Knights have captured the attention of this city. Every home game is sold out at the gorgeous downtown rink (John Labatt Centre). Knights paraphenalia is everywhere, and even in July folks are talking about the exploits of Patrick Kane, Sam Gagner et al.

Why is that significant? Because I wish the same thing was happening in Regina! Granted the Riders will always be number one in the sports pecking order in the Queen City. But is there any reason the Pats can't fill the Brandt Centre for at least half their games? Granted, winning regularly would help immensely. Having several star calibre players wouldn't hurt either. But still, it would be nice if the city would get behind the Pats in the manner the citizens of this area have thrown their support behind the Knights.

And yes, I can already hear the response: "Too many years of losing will do that". Fair enough. Maybe it really is a scenario of "it you build it (a winning team), they will come". Hopefully we'll be able to test that theory very, very soon.