Saturday, January 21, 2017

NFL Conference Championship Capsules

Image result for nfl conference championship

Atlanta, Green Bay, New England and Pittsburgh are the NFL's final four.  Two of them are moving on after Sunday and two are going home. For a preview of the AFC and NFC Championship games, click here 

Durant Sounds Off

Image result for darian durant montreal

Darian Durant didn't pull any punches Friday afternoon as he talked about his departure from Saskatchewan in an interview with 620 CKRM's Rod Pedersen on Saskatchewan's #1 Sports Show--the Sportscage.

Durant, who met the media for the first time in Montreal since the trade that brought him to the Alouettes, says he knew his time in Riderville was over after an article by Rob Vanstone in the Regina Leader-Post in which head coach/general manager Chris Jones referred to him as "moderately successful".

At the end of the day, some things were said about me personally that I thought were uncalled for. To have a coach or GM come out and call a player average and blame the wins and losses on one guy is a low blow. For him to put all the blame on me was something I didn't appreciate." Durant said.

Durant added he doesn't know when the Alouettes will be in Regina because the CFL schedule hasn't come out, but he says he will have that date circled on the calendar.

The complete interview can be heard right here

Friday, January 20, 2017

Willie Jefferson Staying In Riderville

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international defensive lineman Willie Jefferson has signed an extension to remain with the team. As per team policy, details of the contract were not released.

Jefferson (6’6 – 245) joined the Riders in September, 2016 after attending training camp with the Washington Redskins where he played three NFL preseason games, registering two defensive tackles.

In five regular season games with the Green and White last season, the 25-year-old Texas native picked up eight defensive tackles, three quarterback sacks and one forced fumble.

Jefferson spent his first two CFL seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos, picking up 43 defensive tackles and ten quarterback sacks in starting 16 of his 35 regular season games played. He won his first career Grey Cup with the Eskimos in 2015.

“It was important for us to sign Willie to an extension and keep him with the Riders going forward,” stated Riders Vice President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach Chris Jones. “He is a young, athletic and explosive player that is a key piece of our defence and overall team foundation. He has the ability to change the course of a game on every snap as Riders fans witnessed over his short period with the team last year.”    

Jefferson was eligible to become a CFL free agent on February 14th.

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

Dave Dickenson Signs Contract Extension To Remain Stamps HC

Coach Dave Dickenson  Calgary Stampeders  at the 104th Grey Cup at BMO Field in Toronto, Ont. on Sunday November 27, 2016.

The Calgary Stampeders and head coach Dave Dickenson have signed a three-year contract extension. The deal keeps the Canadian Football League’s reigning coach of the year in Calgary through the 2020 season.

“I’m very pleased that Ken King and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation have provided their full support to the decision to make a long-term commitment to Dave as our head coach,” said Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel. “This is the right move for our organization. Dave had an exceptional first season as a head coach and I believe he will get even better as he gains more experience in the role.”

In his first season as head coach, Dickenson led the Stamps to a 15-2-1 mark for a franchise single-season record of 31 standings points. With their Western Final win over the BC Lions, the 2016 Stamps became the first team in franchise history to go a combined 10-0 at home in regular-season and playoff action. Dickenson set the league record for most wins by a rookie head coach. Under Dickenson, who also acts as the Stamps’ offensive coordinator, Calgary scored the most points in the CFL in 2016 and also allowed the fewest.

In the six seasons Dickenson has served as offensive coordinator, the Stamps have led the CFL in scoring four times and have never finished lower than second in points scored.

Dickenson joined the Stamps coaching staff in 2009 after completing his Hall-of-Fame playing career as a member of the Stamps’ 2008 Grey Cup-championship team. The quarterback played 13 seasons as a pro including 11 in the CFL and six with the Stamps. Dickenson was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2000 and he has won a total of four Grey Cup rings as a player and coach.

(Calgary Stampeders)

This And That

Welcome to Friday! Here are the usual weekly thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always they come in no particular order.

--Has it been a week already since the Durant trade? The week has flown by with many voicing their two cents as to who will be under center for the Riders when the 2017 season opens.  That list is growing long with the names Kevin Glenn, Drew Tate, Travis Lulay, Henry Burris,and Ricky Ray being thrown out there amongst others. The other name is James Franklin.  He is obviously the key cog in this whole equation. The Eskimos would like to keep him, but he doesn't apparently want to sign an extension. One can't blame Eskimos GM Ed Hervey for wanting a succession plan to Mike Reilly, but the Riders at one point were grooming Drew Willy to be Darian's replacement, but he wanted to be a starter and went to Winnipeg. The name Vernon Adams Junior isn't coming up much, but he didn't sound too thrilled with the trade. Montreal didn't want to trade him here hoping he will be the guy after Durant. Adams doesn't sound as if he has that much patience. This story isn't even close to ending. 

--As all of this happens, I can't help but wonder where the Riders would be were it not for the season ending injury Durant suffered in 2014 at the Banjo Bowl. How would the fortunes of this team look had he not suffered that elbow injury. The Riders were 8-2 and on their way to a win that afternoon at Investors Group Field and then the bottom fell out.  Man, did it ever!  Could the Riders have repeated that year? If they did, you know Durant is still here, and I'm guessing Corey Chamblin and Brendan Taman are as well. Oh, how one play can change the history of a football team. Would the New England Patriots have had the success they had if it weren't for the tuck rule? They went on to win their first Super Bowl that year over the Rams and the rest is history. 

--Jose Bautista is going home again.  The 36 year old had no desire to return to Toronto, but other squads had no desire in signing Bautista so he goes back to Toronto. Inexplicably, he gets more money than the qualifying offer he rejected. Amazing!  Who's kidding who, Jose and the Blue Jays was like last call at the bar and we've all been there guys. The quotes GM Ross Atkins had on Thursday were purely laughable. If Bautista was always on their radar as Atkins claimed and if Bautista truly wanted to be a Jay all along as Atkins claimed, this wouldn't have gone until mid January.

--What has happened to Carey Price?  The Habs goalie looks ordinary all of a sudden!

--There are apparently Saskatchewan Rush donuts at the Tim Hortons in Harbour Landing.  Are there Regina Pats donuts anywhere? 

--Where does Tim Raines go down in the list of greatest Montreal Expos? Put me down as having him at number 2 right behind Gary Carter! He was Rickey Henderson before Rickey Henderson was cool. 

--Congratulations to Les Lazaruk! The iconic play-by-play man, and overall all-around good man, called his 1700th game when Medicine Hat paid a visit to Sask-Tel Centre Wednesday night. That's a lot of time in the rink and on the bus.  He's one of the best out there.

--When did the phrase "50-50 puck" start getting used by broadcasters and who made this one up?  I have heard two references to a 50-50 puck this week. It's as annoying as a "good stick". That phrase isn't going away it seems, but let's hope 50-50 puck does. 

--NBC has announced "Will and Grace" is coming back.  Can we get "Married with Children" to return? That would be awesome. There has never been a better TV character than Al Bundy! 

--We find out who is going to the Super Bowl this weekend. I don't know how you can't take New England at home over Pittsburgh, but if the Steelers can get into a time of possession game and keep running Leveon Bell down the Patriots throats, they have a chance. The longer Pittsburgh is in the game, the better chance they have of winning.. As for the NFC game between the Packers and Falcons, the big question is how many yards and points will these two teams have. This game could go either way, but Atlanta has so much depth at receiver and a 1-2 punch in the backfield in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman that it could be too much for a Green Bay team who is injured in the secondary.  Aaron Rodgers may have to perform a miracle three weeks in a row, and who's kidding who, he probably can.

--Are the four remaining QB's the four best in the game as was suggested this week listening to NFL Radio. No doubt Brady and Rodgers are on the list, but is Matt Ryan there yet? Is Ben Roethlisberger one of the best four in the game? I would think guys like Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and yes, even Cam Newton even though I'm not a fan would be ahead of Roethlisberger and maybe Ryan too, but that could change if he takes his team to the Super Bowl with a great performance Sunday. 

--How much longer until spring training? The first baseball preview magazines are out which is always a good thing. 

--That's all I got. The Pats are home to Medicine Hat tonight so maybe I'll see ya at the Brandt Centre. Have a good weekend!!



Thursday, January 19, 2017

This Week In Cougar Athletics

Home Schedule – Friday
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Winnipeg, 6:00 p.m. (CKHS)
Men’s Hockey – vs. Mount Royal, 7:00 p.m. (The Co-operators Centre)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Winnipeg, 8:00 p.m. (CKHS)

Home Schedule – Saturday
Men’s Hockey – vs. Mount Royal, 3:00 p.m. (The Co-operators Centre)
Women’s Volleyball – vs. Winnipeg, 5:00 p.m. (CKHS)
Men’s Volleyball – vs. Winnipeg, 7:00 p.m. (CKHS)

Away Schedule – Wednesday
Men’s Wrestling – vs. Northland College, 5:00 p.m. (Jamestown, N.D.)

Away Schedule – Friday
Women’s Basketball – at Brandon, 6:00 p.m (Brandon, Man.)
Women’s Hockey – at Mount Royal, 7:00 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Men’s Basketball – at Brandon, 8:00 p.m. (Brandon, Man.)
Track & Field – at Golden Bear Open, Day 1 (Edmonton, Alta.)

Away Schedule – Saturday
Women’s Hockey – at Mount Royal, 3:00 p.m. MST (Calgary, Alta.)
Women’s Basketball – at Brandon, 5:00 p.m (Brandon, Man.)
Men’s Basketball – at Brandon, 7:00 p.m. (Brandon, Man.)
Track & Field – at Golden Bear Open, Day 2 (Edmonton, Alta.)

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars lost a pair of road games on the weekend against the No. 6 Alberta Golden Bears, dropping 6-2 and 5-2 decisions. Ian McNulty and Kirk Bear had goals on Friday, while Stephen Langford and Logan Harland scored on Saturday. Regina (3-16-1) is home this weekend looking to snap an eight-game losing streak against Mount Royal at The Co-operators Centre on Friday night (7:00) and Saturday afternoon (3:00).

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars (1-13) return home after suffering a pair of road losses to Brandon last weekend, losing in four sets to the Bobcats on Thursday and in straight sets on Friday. Regina hosts Winnipeg this Friday and Saturday at the CKHS, a team which will come into the weekend series with an identical 1-13 record to the Cougars. First serve is set for 6 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars (0-14) dropped two matches at Brandon last Thursday and Friday and return home this weekend for two of their final four home matches of the season. The U of R will play host to a Winnipeg team that comes in with a 6-8 conference record and sits just one win back of seventh-place Calgary for the seventh and final Canada West playoff berth. Match time is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Women’s Basketball (U SPORTS Ranking: No. 3) – The Cougars improved their conference record to 10-2 with two big home wins over Manitoba, taking down the Bisons by scores of 93-44 and 92-59. Katie Polischuk piled up 45 points over the two games, and on Saturday became just the 11th player in program history to score 1000 career points for the Cougars. The U of R is back in action this weekend with two road games against Brandon (7-7).

Men’s Basketball – The Cougars fell to .500 in conference play after losing twice at the CKHS to Manitoba, falling 93-81 on Friday and having a fourth-quarter comeback come up short in an 84-75 loss on Saturday. Now with a 6-6 Canada West record and tied for eighth place in the 17-team Canada West standings, the Cougars continue the conference schedule at Brandon (5-9) on Friday and Saturday.

Women’s Hockey – The Cougars were swept on home ice against the No. 9-ranked Alberta Pandas last weekend, falling 3-1 and 2-0 at The Co-operators Centre. Emma Waldenberger scored in Friday night's game, which saw Morgan Baker make 24 saves in net. Jane Kish stopped 29 shots on Saturday. Regina (9-9-2-0) sits two points back for fourth-place Saskatchewan, as the Cougars will take to the road this weekend to square off against Mount Royal (7-10-1-2).

Wrestling (Women’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 4 / Men’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 7) – The men's wrestling team defeated Minot State University 29-23 in a dual on Thursday, thanks to wins by Daniel Amberson (54 kg), Joshua Zimroz (61 kg), Geraldo Fox (76 kg), Gaelan Malloy (90 kg), Waylon Decoteau (100 kg) and Jordan Tholl (heavyweight). The men’s team wrestles Northland College in a dual on Wednesday night in Jamestown, N.D.

Track & Field – Joy Becker led the Cougars at the Downtown Lions Sled Dog Meet with first-place finishes in both the 60-metre dash (7.61 s) and the long jump (5.97m) as she now ranks third in the nation in the two events. Kaytlyn Criddle (1500-metre run) and Reagan Fedak (weight throw) also placed first, while Alex Eiswerth led the men’s side with a first-place finish in the 600-metre run (1:21.21). The Cougars continue their season this Friday and Saturday at the Golden Bear Open in Edmonton.

Swimming (Women’s U SPORTS Ranking: No. 9) – Five members of the U of R’s swimming teams competed at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas over the weekend. Brian Palaschuk had the highlight at the elite meet with a first-place finish in the C final of the 400-metre individual medley, finishing with a time of 4:33.21. Noah Choboter also qualified for a C final, placing fourth to finish 20th overall in the 100-metre backstroke (58.91 s). The Cougars will continue the 2016-17 season the first weekend of February at the Colleges Cup in Calgary.

( U of R Athletics/Braden Konschuh)

Alouettes Sign Darian Durant To 3 Year Deal

Image result for darian durant

The Montreal Alouettes announced Thursday by coming to an agreement with three seasons of the quarter Darian Durant, whose rights were acquired in an exchange on January 13.

Durant (5'11 ", 214 lbs.) Played eleven seasons in the CFL, who began his career with the Roughriders in 2006. He was the quarterback when the team won the Grey Cup in 2007, so that 'He was in command of the attack when the team got hold of the title in 2013.

"We are extremely pleased to have come to an agreement with Darian and we look forward to seeing him at the helm of our attack in June," said Alouettes chief executive Kavis Reed. Negotiations were the quickest, as we both looked forward to reaching an agreement and getting down to work together to win a championship in Montreal. "

In 155 career games, including 111 as a starting quarterback, the 34-year veteran completed 2186 of the 3519 assists he attempted for 28,136 yards and 149 touchdowns. He is currently 16th in the history of the CFL for the number of passing yards. He also carried the ball 369 times during his career, which allowed him to win 2888 yards and enter 21 majors. It shows a record of 5-1 as a starting quarter in playoffs.

Last season, the athlete from Florence, South Carolina collected 3468 passing yards, completing 290 of his 431 assists, and scoring 14 touchdown passes. He also scored five majors on the ground, who completed 51 races for 274 yards.

The former Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina also drove the Riders to the Gray Cup game in 2009 and 2010, while the Alouettes defeated them each time. He was named to the West Division All-Star team twice, in both 2009 and 2013.

(Montreal Alouettes)