It was a familiar feeling last week for Brendon LaBatte –– another year, another divisional All-Star nod.
“It feels good. Obviously very humbled and extremely grateful that people thought enough of the way I played to give me a nomination like that,” said LaBatte after learning of being named a West division All Star.
LaBatte was chosen over teammate Dominic Picard, who got the nomination by the Roughriders for outstanding offensive lineman and outstanding Canadian and rookie standout Xavier Fulton.
“He’s one guy (Fulton) who comes to mind that falls into the getting robbed category, but there are a lot of players that do a lot of good things for 18 games for the team and it is disappointing but not every one of them can get recognized.”
With the injuries that LaBatte had this season, missing four-and-a-half games, he didn’t expect that being an All-Star was on the horizon.
“I really only played thirteen-and-a-half games. In terms of everything that I have overcome this year, to come back off of injuries, it has probably been one of the years where I can personally feel better about myself.”
LaBatte’s and the Roughriders’ season came to an abrupt end Sunday evening in the 36-30 loss to the enemy Calgary Stampeders. Quarterback Darian Durant and the Riders offense took the lead 30-29 with 52 seconds left in the game with a 24-yard touchdown pass to 6’6 receiver Greg Carr.
The Stamps, though, responded putting the dagger in the Roughriders season when Stampeder quarterback Drew Tate connected with Romby Bryant on a 68-yard touchdown pass to ice the victory.
“This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end, but we let it slip away.” Chamblin told 620 CKRM’s Carm Carteri. “That’s not the way you want to remember the end of your season, but at the end of the day I am proud of the team for coming so far and doing a lot of great things.”
Other than the opening play of the game when LaBatte missed a block allowing the Stamps to sack Durant, the offensive line did a great job protecting Durant, giving him time to make plays down field.
In fact, Durant had one of the most outstanding statistical games for a Rider quarterback in the history of the franchise, becoming the first Rider since Ron Lancaster in 1975 to throw four touchdown passes in a playoff game. He threw 435 yards in the loss and slotback, Weston Dressler, had 153 yards receiving in the game.
The Roughriders ended the year on a five-game losing streak, yet the optimism surrounding the team is vibrant, coming off of a terrible 5-13 season last year.
“I think we brought this team a long ways from the start of the season. We re-tooled the roster and we moved forward. We have some stars on this team and we have guys that can get us to the next level,” Chamblin continued. “We were just a couple of seconds away from going to the western final and we did it after rebuilding from virtually the bottom up. With a move here and a move there, I think we can be a genuine contender next year.”