Canadian talent is a factor in Roughriders early success in 2023


The Saskatchewan Roughriders may be off the radar this Canada Day weekend with the first of their three bye weeks, but the strength of their Canadian players  is one of the reasons the green and white have jumped out to a 2-1 start in the 2023 Canadian Football League (CFL) regular season.

With at least seven starters on CFL rosters required to be Canadian, teams must receive production from their homegrown products in order to be successful.

On offence, wide receiver Samuel Emilus has displayed signs of a breakthrough season, highlighted by his three-touchdown performance against Winnipeg in Week 2. Along with the touchdown hat-trick, Emilus has made timely second-down receptions in both victories against Edmonton and Calgary. So far, the 25-year-old has 13 receptions for 186 receiving yards in 2023.

The interior of the offensive line is the heart of Saskatchewan’s national talent. Featuring Melfort’s Logan Ferland, who moved to left tackle during the Roughriders win over Calgary on Saturday. Also starting inside the green and white o-line is Regina’s Evan Johnson and Toronto’s Peter Godber, with Calgary’s Logan Bandy coming in relief last week to fill in Ferland’s spot at right guard. A big reason for Jamal Morrow leading the league in rushing after three weeks has been the blocking of the offensive line, especially in the fourth quarter in their victories over their Alberta rivals.

On the defensive side of the ball, Micah Teitz has settled into his starting position at weakside linebacker after missing the entire 2022 season. With four tackles and a knockdown, the former Calgary Dino with Larry Dean has provided stability in the team’s linebacking corps, which should only be strengthened by the return of Derrick Moncrief, who played his first game of the season at McMahon Stadium.

Up front, defensive tackle Charbel Dabire started on Saturday and provided a knockdown against the Stampeders. Dabire was one of the players who registered a sack during the green and white’s five-sack effort against the Elks in Week 1. The 26-year-old has been a member of the Roughriders since 2019 when he was drafted in the fifth round of the CFL Draft.

At safety, Saskatchewan has plenty of Western Canadian talent with Jayden Dalke, Nelson Lokombo and Jaxon Ford. Dalke had a strong start before suffering a back injury that has landed him on the six-game injured list. He has three tackles, a pair of special teams tackles, and an interception for the Roughriders in the win in Edmonton.

Canadians are a big part of the special teams units across the league. Brett Lauther hasn’t missed getting off to the start he would like overall, but he has still made timely field goals in both Roughriders wins this season.

Unfortunately, Saskatchewan’s injured list has plenty of prominent Canadians on them. Besides Dalke, receivers Kian Schaffer-Baker, Brayden Lenius and Juwan Brescacin are all on the six-game injured list. Offensive lineman Philip Blake is also on the six-game injured list with a torn pectoral injury.

Saskatchewan’s Canadian talent will be back on the field at Mosaic Stadium on Thursday when the Roughriders host the Elks. The opening kickoff is at 7:00.


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