It was a busy weekend for the Canadian Football League, with teams preparing for a new year during pre-season games. Three former Weyburn athletes were on the field for their teams.
Brendon LaBatte and Kyle Paterson were on the field for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their game against the Ottawa RedBlacks, and Jones started with the Calgary Stampeders during their game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
During training camp, held before the pre-season game, LaBatte spoke about both the offensive and defensive lines of the Riders. “We have the same core of guys for the O-line. We have had two years together, and are heading into our third. We demand a lot of ourselves, and know our goals for the season.”
“There are good players, interior guys especially, for the D-line, we have some big bodies in there,” said LaBatte. “The O-line will hit the other teams with everything we got in the run game, but if we don’t do it right, the D-line will lock it down.”
LaBatte started with many core veterans on the offensive-line, and played most of the first half of the exhibition game.
Darren Abel, head coach for the Comp Eagles, who had previously coached LaBatte, Paterson and Jones, had attended the pre-season game in Regina.
He noted that Paterson only took to the field for the last couple of plays, and knew that Kyle was disappointed that he didn’t get the opportunity to play more.
“I know deep down, Kyle really wants to show the coaches what he has,” said Abel.
Paterson did make it past the first round of cuts, which was made by the Roughriders on Monday. There is a possibility that he could be dressed again for the pre-season game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
Abel is proud of all three of the former local athletes, especially noting the success that LaBatte and Jones had during the previous season, when they won year-end CFL awards. “Now with Kyle being signed by the Roughriders, this is unbelievable for Weyburn,” said Abel.
The Roughriders won 21-17 over the Ottawa RedBlacks. Even though the game was held at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, the Riders were the visiting team. This was the first official CFL game for the Ottawa RedBlacks, who are the newest franchise in the league.
The RedBlacks claimed an early 7-0 lead, just 1:43 into the game. Ottawa claimed a field goal, adding another three points to their lead, during the third series for the RedBlacks.
The Riders finally got on the board in the last minute of the first quarter, with rookie Marshay Green turned a punt for the touchdown. After one quarter, the RedBlacks led 10-7.
During the second quarter, the Riders scored another touchdown with 9:04 to go in the half, to claim a 14-10 lead. The Riders claimed a six-play, 90-yard touchdown drive to go up 21-10, with 10:29 to go in the third quarter. Then with 2:07 left in the quarter, the RedBlack claimed a 108-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown toss.
In the last quarter, Ottawa tried to push for more points, even with a Rider turnover in their favor. But the defensive line for the Riders kept strong, preventing any touchdowns.
The Riders also had a few opportunities, including two turnovers, but were unable to convert them into any points. The score remained at 21-17.
For the Calgary Stampeders, they claimed a 23-20 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during their pre-season game.
Calgary took an early 14-0 lead with touchdowns that started and ended the first quarter. A 49-yard return on the opening kickoff jumpstarted the Stamps, and near the end of the quarter they claimed a 15-yard completion from a 32-yard run.
Late in the opening quarter, the Stamps complated an 18-yard touchdown run, which was fueled by four complete passes by quarterback Bo Levi Mitchel, including a pair to Nik Lewis. Then Calgary added to their lead, with two field goals and a punt single.
The Blue Bombers came back strong during the second half, scoring 10 unanswered points in the third quarter. First, they kicked a 14-yard field goal and then connected with a 29-yard touchdown pass.
The Blue Bombers took a slight 20-17 lead late in the last quarter, after claiming another field goal. Rookie Tyler Crapigna kicked the Calgary Stampeders to a 23-20 victory, The game-winning kick was set up by a 27-yard pass.