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Leading the Way – Leadership Paying Dividends for Riders During Perfect Start to Season

Published: Tuesday, Jul 9th 2024, 2:07pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

 

Could anyone have predicted the Saskatchewan Roughriders being 4-0 to start the season after what we saw from this team over the last few years? Even after hot starts the last 2 seasons, I didn’t see it happening in 2024, at least not this soon. I knew Corey Mace would have an impact on the team, but I thought we’d see them struggle early and pick it up later. The tone set by Mace and company should not be understated during the Riders perfect start.

 

Let’s start at the top, with Head Coach Corey Mace. It was clear last year that the team needed a culture change and I have zero doubts in my mind that the Saskatchewan Roughriders got the right guy. I know it’s with some hindsight, but remember when Scott Milanovich was rumoured as the leading candidate for the Riders head coaching gig? We sure dodged that bullet, eh?

 

Head Coach Corey Mace – photo courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders

 

But from these first 4 games, it’s clear that whatever Mace is doing in the locker room behind closed doors is working. I think it’s his calm demeanour that commands respect. It’s looking you directly in the eyes when he talks to you. The man undoubtedly knows how to speak to today’s players, he kind of reminds me of a young Ken Miller. It’s not like the Don Matthews days where he would yell at you and cut you at practice every day. That worked at the time, but it’s different now. The old school mentality way of coaching just doesn’t work anymore and General Manager Jeremy O’Day did a great job of finding the right candidate for the job.

 

But it goes beyond Mace. It’s the players as well that are leading. We know that Trevor Harris is a good leader. While he was around during his injury that kept him off the field for most of the 2023 season, leadership was missing on the field. There was no one on that roster on offense last year to take over that role when Harris was hurt. 

I look at 2024 and I see a guy like Jermarcus Hardrick being that guy right now. Against the Argos on Thursday, when Trevor Reid went down with his injury, Hardrick pulled Zack Fry aside before his first play and was offering advice. And ‘Yoshi’ is ALWAYS the first one in on celebrations by the offense. Even in the locker room, when QB Shea Patterson was given a game ball after his first CFL win on Thursday night, Hardrick picked him up (with extreme ease) and put him on his shoulder. ‘Yoshi’ is not only an all-star on the field, he’s one off the field for the team as well.

 

OL Jermarcus Hardrick picks up QB Shea Patterson – photo courtesy Saskatchewan Roughriders

 

And I haven’t even gotten to Jameer Thurman yet. A guy who has made a turnover in every single game so far, he leads by example on the field and as I discussed with C.J. Avery a couple of weeks ago, he’s helping out the young guys and giving them all the tricks of the trade as well. It’s turned out pretty well for Avery as he’s having a great season so far!

 

 

You can see how much these guys love each other and are truly there for one another. And it’s the leadership across the board that has helped the team start the season 4-0. 

 

Oh and the outstanding defense, that helps too!

 

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