Putting the Classic back into Labour Day
Published: Saturday, Sep 2nd 2017, 3:09pm
By Greg McCulloch (@GregOnSports)
The Labour Day Classic is finally here. It is the game all Rider fans have circled on the schedule no matter the record in the win-loss column. When hordes of Blue Bomber fans come flocking west on the number 1 leaving hay bales with blue Ws spray painted on in their wake. It’s the game most CFL fans have on their bucket list of games to be at.
There is just something special when these 2 teams and fan bases get together in the waning days of summer. Records don’t matter, big plays are frequent, and the fans, while being rivals, are there for a good time no matter the colour the face paint.
This year though something is different: The records actually matter.
Currently, the Riders are 4-4 and sitting 5th in the west, while the Bombers are currently 2nd with a 7-2 record. A win will put the Riders in play off contention for the first time since 2014, while a win for the Bombers will keep them nipping at the heels of the Stampeders.
Both teams are confident and are stringing together wins. The Riders just dismantled both BC and Edmonton with dominating wins in all 3 phases of the game. While Bombers have scratched and clawed their way through a tight 5-game win streak.
Bombers Running Back Andrew Harris has quickly become the most versatile threat in the CFL. Harris is currently on pace to become the first CFL player to get 1000 Rushing yards and 1000 Receiving yards in one season.
Quarterback Matt Nichols is currently playing above the “game manager” reputation. With his platoon of receivers including Weston Dressler, Darvin Adams, Clarence Denmark, Ryan Lankford, and Julian Feoli-Gudino the Bombers have been able to mount several comebacks this year.
Bombers lead the CFL last year in take aways and it is what their defense hangs their hat on. With ball hawking defensive backs TJ Heath and Chris Randle, any ball that isn’t on target has a good shot at coming back the other way.
As for special teams the Bombers have the high paid kicker in the league in Justin Medlock, and with his distance and consistency, he is worth every penny. Also, Mike O’Shea made his coaching name as a special teams guru. It isn’t strange to see the Bombers pull off some razzle dazzle when you least expect it.
The Riders offense is lead by arguably the best receiving corps in the league: Bakari Grant, Duron Carter, Naaman Roosevelt, Caleb Holley, and Nic Demski. All Kevin Glenn has to do is find the open man, and there is a good chance that any of those receivers could make a big play. With the recent changes on the offensive line, Glenn should have all the time he needs to do it and we will be seeing more team celebrations.
Defensively the Riders seem to have finally found their groove with the defensive line getting pressure so the defensive backs can be more effective in coverage and it has shown with the sudden abundance of turnovers. It has been a total team effort on defense and its been fun to watch.
This week’s Coney Island Café Piffles Player Profile player, Nick James, has been a big reason for that added pressure.
Riders return game has been the subject to whispers as Chad Owens has yet to suit up for the Riders and Owens watch is a weekly event for the local media. However, the return game for the Riders has been very solid with a committee including, Christion Jones, Nic Demski, Duron Carter, and Greg Morris.
Tyler Crapigna has been rock solid despite some early misses this season and Josh Bartel is still one of the best directional punters in the league. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Riders try to beat the Bombers to the punch with some kicking shenanigans.
This game has all the aspects of living up to the “Classic” name. The home opener went to double over time with 83 combined points, there is no reason not to expect a game like that again.
Riders 45 – Bomber 36
Be sure to check out the Piffles Tailgate before the game.
Also stay tuned to Twitter after the game as we breakdown what happened live via Periscope down on the field.
Go Riders /=S=/
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