Whether they like it or not, the end is here for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Riders will close out their 2015 season on Sunday afternoon against the Montreal Alouettes, who are also playing out the string after being eliminated from playoff contention last week.
Even though there’s nothing to play for standings wise, the coaching staff is expected the players to still put forth their best effort.
“It doesn’t make a difference, whether you’re playing into a game going into the playoffs (or not) this is a physical violent game. Guys don’t go out on the field to half-ass it. They go out to play hard,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
“That’s what this team has done and that’s what I expect I’ll see.”
All week leading into this game, Dyce has been trying to get the most out of his players by driving home the fact that this is the final time all of them will be together on the field ever again.
As soon as Monday, the changes could begin. Even after good seasons, football teams change. After seasons like this one, there will be even more changes. Many coaches and players out there on Sunday very likely won’t be there when the team takes the field again in April for their mini-camp.
That sense of finality has caught the attention of the players.
“We just have so much fun playing with each other. We didn’t get the wins we wanted this year but to come out with a win at the end of the year would be special,” said receiver Naaman Roosevelt.
Every day this week has been the final something for the team before their last game of the season.
It’s a feeling that many of these players aren’t used to. This franchise is used to making the playoffs the last 15 years. All those time, no one knew when their final game of the year was going to be. There could have been as many as three more weeks together.
This year, this is it.
“There’s been different emotions for a lot of guys throughout the week. Most of them bitter, I guess. At the same time, it’s one last chance to show,” said defensive end John Chick.
“You put a lot of work in from the off-season on through the entire year, it didn’t go the way you hoped, but it’s your last chance to put it out there. Nobody knows where they’re going to be this time next year or six months from now. You look forward to the last moments with your team.”
It’s not only the last game for the players together, it could also be the final time Dyce takes the field as the Riders head coach. A job he finally got to hold for the first time since the Labour Day Classic.
All week, Dyce has suggested he’s approaching this week like any other.
“I love this job, coaching is great. Now that we know when our season ends, it’s a difficult time, so you have to enjoy it and savour it. Because six months from now is a long time before you’re back on the practice field,” he said.
That long wait begins just after 3 p.m. on Sunday.
The Riders have made a number of changes heading into their final game of the season.
Quarterback Keith Price will make his first start in the CFL. There’s also a number of new Canadians on the roster because of injury.
Added to the roster:
- Defensive back Hugo Lopez
- Defensive back Tyree Hollins
- Linebacker Kyle Norris
- Linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo
- Defensive lineman Ryan Wellman
- Receiver Ryan Lankford
- Receiver Alex Carroll
Removed from the roster:
- Defensive back Macho Harris (injured)
- Defensive back Keenan MacDougall (injured)
- Defensive lineman Dylan Ainsworth (injured)
- Receiver Nic Demski (injury list)
- Receiver Chris Getzlaf (injured)
- Receiver Marcus Davis (practice roster)
- Offensive lineman Levy Adcock (injury list)
Kick-off is at Noon on TSN.
The Green Zone 10-Hour Game Day begins at 8 a.m. on News Talk Radio with Game Day with Wray followed by the Green Zone Pre-Game Show.
During the game, stay entertained and up-to-date with Scotty and the King on the Fan Zone.
After the game, it’s your turn to be the star by calling the Green Zone Post-Game Show at 1-877-300-7275.