By Mitchell Blair
The Saskatchewan Roughriders will kick off the 2012 season in Hamilton as they play the Tiger-Cats with a familiar face waiting to greet them.
After six productive seasons in green and white in which he caught nearly 300 passes, receiver Andy Fantuz is now the opposition after leaving as a free agent to sign with the Ti-Cats in the off-season. The Riders are well aware of what he can do, but they aren’t planning anything special for their old teammate.
“A lot of those guys have practiced against him for years,” quarterback Darian Durant said. “They know what to expect from him. We’re just looking forward to seeing our guys push him around a little bit.”
One of those players who went up against Fantuz on a daily basis at practice for many years is defensive back Chris McKenzie.
“It might be a little easier for us to cover Andy because we know his tendencies,” McKenzie admitted. “I’m not going to do anything different though. I’m just going to go in and play my technique and do what I’m supposed to. If I can do that and if we can do that as a team, I think we can go in there and be pretty successful.”
The game will mark the debut of Corey Chamblin as head coach of the football team. After stints in Hamilton and Calgary as a defensive co-ordinator and a defensive backs coach, the 35-year-old steps on the sidelines for the first time as the man in charge. He is very confident his troops can come out of Hamilton with a victory.
“The one thing I told the team this week is that they are a very youthful bunch.” Chamblin said. “We have to use that youthful energy right from the opening kickoff to the last play of the game. We have a fast group and we have to make sure we control that energy and use it to our advantage. If we can do that, I think we can come out of there with a “W”.
One of that youthful bunch Chamblin talks about is number one draft pick Ben Heenan. Because of an injury to Chris Best, Heenan will start at guard Friday night and while the start does come because of an injury, the U of S Husky grad can’t wait.
“Every football player wants to be a starter,” Heenan said. “It’s unfortunate that Chris can’t go this week, but he has helped me a lot over the past couple of weeks. I think I’ve adapted pretty well and I think I’ve improved my performance from week-to-week so I’m ready. I know people will be looking at me, but I just have to do the same thing that I did in high school and university and that is play to the best of my abilities and hope for a positive outcome.”
Game time from Ivor Wynne Stadium is 5:00 Saskatchewan time. TSN will have the broadcast on TV while 620 CKRM will bring you the radio call starting with the pre-game show at 3 o’clock followed by the play-by-play with Rod Pedersen and Carm Carteri.
|June 29, 2013||Saskatchewan||Edmonton||@ 1:30 PM|