Despite a five-game losing streak, the Saskatchewan Roughriders still control their own fate when it comes to the CFL playoff race.
Heading into a Week 19 road game against the 4-11 Calgary Stampeders on Friday (7:30 p.m., TSN), the 6-10 Riders can officially clinch a spot in the post-season with a victory.
“You want to always control your own fate and we still have control of that,” Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson said after practice at Mosaic Stadium on Tuesday. “There’s a few other teams in this league that don’t and it’s tough to motivate those guys when they know they’re already out.”
Entering this Friday’s game, the Stamps not only trail the Riders by four points in the West Division standings, but the season series — and standings tiebreaker — is also on the line after the Riders beat Calgary 29-26 in overtime in Week 3, which was followed by a Stamps 33-31 win in Week 6, when quarterback Trevor Harris was injured.
If the Riders lose on Friday, then it sets up for a crucial final two weeks of the season for both teams.
For Calgary to get in, they would need a Saskatchewan loss in their Week 20 game against the 13-2 Toronto Argonauts on Oct. 21. The Stampeders would need to beat the 11-5 B.C. Lions on Oct. 20 or beat the 12-4 Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Oct. 27.
If Saskatchewan loses to Calgary and then beats Toronto, then the Stamps would have to win both of their games to leapfrog the Riders for the third and final playoff spot in the West Division. The Riders have a bye in the final week of the season.
“We’re steering the ship for our own destiny,” said quarterback Jake Dolegala. “We win this week, we’re in and that’s just what we’ve got to do.”
While the Riders enter Friday’s game on a five-game skid, after Saturday’s 38-13 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Stampeders haven’t been playing well of late either, having lost six of their last seven games, including three straight contents.
“We feel very fortunate,” said Dickenson. “We’ve been lucky in a lot of ways that other teams have lost and we’re still in the mix.
“But we’ve got to take advantage of that.”
Upon their return to the practice field on Tuesday, Dickenson had a number of veteran players, plus general manager Jeremy O’Day, address the team as they get set for the final two games of the season.
“We want better energy, we want to play with a little more emotion and we need to execute,” said the head coach. “We talked a lot about those three things and that we need all of them in order to be successful.
“You can’t have one without the other two and expect to be successful.”
As the Riders returned for Day 1 of practice on Tuesday, several players missed the workout.
Linebacker Derrick Moncrief (shoulder/neck), linebacker T.J. Brunson (neck), receiver Tevin Jones (hamstring), defensive back Jaxon Ford (hamstring) and defensive lineman Charbel Dabire (illness) did not participate. Neither did defensive back Jeremy Clark (knee) who missed last week’s game against Hamilton.
Riders add defensive back
The Riders added another player to the roster on Tuesday, signing American defensive back Abu Daramy-Swaray.
This season, the 27-year-old played five games with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, making 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He was released from the Bombers’ practice roster last week.
Prior to his time in the CFL, Daramy-Swaray spent time with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, the XFL’s Arlington Renegades and the German Football League’s Potsdam Royals. The 5-foot-9, 176-pounder played college football at Colgate University where he racked up 155 tackles, 25 pass breakups and five interceptions in 44 games, while also serving as a punt and kickoff returner.