With a win over the Stampeders, the Riders will be a near-lock to host the West final.
Though Head Coach Craig Dickenson says he doesn’t think ahead too far, he’s aware of the meaning.
“This is a big game,” says Dickenson. “Our guys know it’s a big game. They know that Calgary had their way with us earlier this season. And I think we’re eager to prove that wasn’t the same team that played them in Regina.”
The Stampeders won in Regina 37-10 back in Week four. With Riders winning nine of ten games since then, you wonder how much meaning that game–and that game film–has now.
“We’ve looked at it from a scheme point of view,” says Dickenson. “Because Calgary…it’s the same coaching staff and we’re the same staff. We’ve looked at it from an Xs and Os point of view. But we do feel like we’re a better team than we were back then. But I think Calgary probably feels like in some ways they’re a better team also.”
“I took a close look at it,” says quarterback Cody Fajardo. “And I cringed a couple times watching that film because there’s a couple mistakes on there that I felt like, as a quarterback, I’ve been able to get better at.”
Statistically that was Fajardo’s worst game of the season. He finished 9-of-15 for 89 yards with two interceptions and being pulled–mercifully–from the game. Fajardo knows he needs to be better Friday, if the Riders are to meet their next goal.
“I think all these games are must-wins if want to do what we want to do, and that’s get the first-round bye.”
Defensive Tackle Micah Johnson will play his first game back in Calgary after leaving as a free agent. He’s kept in close touch will plenty of former teammates that he will see on the field Friday, including defensive end Cordarro Law.
“We were boys off the field. And it’s such strong relationships outside of football,” Johnson says. “We kept in contact all throughout the off-season, a little bit less during the season. There’s been a little bit of talk back and forth–messing with each other. So, I think both sides are excited about the game.
“I wouldn’t say ‘must win’, but it definitely does have a playoff feel,” Johnson adds. “We know how much it means to them. It means equally just as much to us. We’re trying to definitely get that first-week bye. I know how important that is and how much your chances go up if you have that. And that’s what we’re chasing.”
Kickoff is 7:30pm with the pre-game show beginning at 4:30 on 620 CKRM.