We are but 4 days away from the opening of the 2010 CFL season. Anticipation and excitement have reached a fever pitch here on the prairies. It has been a long time since expectations were this high in Saskatchewan… well at least realistic expectations, not just ridiculous ramblings of idiots who were delusional enough to believe that the likes of Michael Bishop and Nealon Greene were talented enough to accomplish anything of value. But I digress.
The Riders enter 2010 is the rare position as a team to beat. As opposed to the past when we were just a team that was going to get beat. With a few minor exceptions the Riders will be fielding essentially the same team that came within a math error (carry the 1 stupid!) of winning it all. The good news is that we managed to outsource the coach responsible for the devastating math error to a city where his math skills will be on par or better than 95% of the population. . Offensively we get a return engagement by the Canadian Air Force (Fantuz, Bagg, Getzlaf and Clermont) who will be rejoined by a healthy Weston Dressler. We also get a return engagement by an all-star QB, which is a rarity in this province. Generally we either get the choice of a return engagement by a bad QB or having to replace a departed good QB. Our O-line also gives us reason for excitement as we will be fielding an all-star in Goodspeed and a more experience Joel Bell at the tackles as opposed to being reduced to settling for out 4th and 5th options at tackle as we were last year. The only downside to our offense will be our run game which is likely to continue running in a style that can be likened to that of a gay pride parade participant (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Oh well, we overcame that weakness last year and I assume we will be able to again.
Defensively with the exception of a big question mark at DE I think we are looking pretty good. A veteran LB crew, a secondary that is a good combination of veteran savvy and youthful athleticism and 2 interior linemen that were pretty darn good last year. Though I don’t think we will see the Baggs/Chick-type sack numbers, I do think our D-line overall is good enough to get the pressure we need from them. Working in our favour is Etcheverry’s borderline insane schemes are built around finding innovative ways to pressure the QB… even if it means lining the kicker up a DT and dropping Chunk back to play the wide-side corner.
Toss in a former a Special Teams Player of the Year on kick returns and you have making of a formidable foe this season.
The will be no time to sit and adore how good we look on paper though as our first game is against another formidable foe in the form of les Alouettes who are every bit as talented as we are. Like us they are a very talented team that has suffered a couple key loses. For the Als its Bryan Chui and Kerron Williams who were among the best in the league at their respective positions. Expect a hard fought battle between the 2 top teams in the CFL… what a perfect way to kick off another exciting CFL season.
I’m as excited for the season to open as a Man In The Bush is for the Justin Bieber concert. I’ll see you see at a sold out Mosaic Stadium on Canada Day. Let’s remind the country who the league’s best fans are.
Riders by 7.
You’ve probably noticed that I have yet to do my Official Prophecies yet. Fear not, I haven’t forgotten about them… it’s just that much like Monday Morning Sentimonies they will be fashionably late. Check back Wednesday for the CFL’s first and only poetically themed preview.
One last note today…
I would like to give a plug to the town of Avonlea. They are vying for the distinction of being selected as Riderville. The town is going all out too. Stores and houses are plastered in green and white, they painted a regulation size football field on Main St. and I think they even renamed a few streets to football related names such as 2 point Conversion Ave and Off Season Knee Surgery Blvd. They have a website that shows all the ways the town is showing their Rider Pride. You should check it out: www.avonlea4riderville.com.
So cheers to you Avonlea, you have my vote… at least until another town comes along with a more lucrative offer for my endorsement.