Mitchell Blar | Riderville.com Staff
REGINA -- Earlier this week while guesting on 620 CKRM’s “Sportscage” with host and Riders play-by-play man Rod Pedersen, Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Geroy Simon revealed that one of the reasons why he wanted to continue his CFL career in green was so he could experience the Labour Day Classic from the home sidelines.
The ageless Simon made his first Labour Day Classic as a Rider one to remember as he caught two touchdown passes in a 48-25 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“It felt great,” Simon stated moments after the final gun sounded. “I just wanted to come out and make some plays and get some opportunities. They definitely looked for me a lot today. We’ve been working on some chemistry in practice and I think it’s finally starting to come together."
Darian Durant was on the same page as Simon on Sunday afternoon and he was also on the same page with the rest of his receivers, as the veteran pivot was 24 of 35 for 315 yards and four touchdowns on the day.
Those numbers might make it sound as if it was an easy day for Durant in the pocket, but he gave a lot of credit to a Winnipeg defenxe that posed a challenge to him.
“We needed a few series to see what they were doing,” Durant said. “Once we got an idea as to what they were trying to do, we came out in the second half and started to get our game going. They did take it to us in that first half though. Give them some credit because they made some plays, but in the end we managed to make those changes that were needed to come out successful.’
Head Coach Corey Chamblin had admitted prior to the contest that taking on a Bombers team that has had so many players rotate into the lineup would be tough because it would be difficult assessing their strengths and weaknesses on film. He said after the game that it did take some time to figure out what they were up against.
“You’re all over the place as to what they are going to do when they have had so much turnover,” Chamblin said. “After the first half, they could only show so much and we had to adjust. I thought we did a good job of defending what they did in the first half and all the things they came up with. Now that we’ve seen them, I think it’s a level playing field as we get ready for them next week.”
Bombers quarterback Justin Goltz was having a good time in the first half completing 12 of 15 passes, but the defence clamped down on the young Winnipeg signal-caller in the 2nd half as he was 6 of 14 with two interceptions. Linebacker Craig Butler says it was just a case of doing what they do best after a slow start.
“We didn’t really change things up,” Butler said. “We just knew we had to execute and play our game. We were a little frustrated because of the officials, but that doesn’t help you win the game. You have to put it behind you and we did that and rebounded. We’re a confident group and we know what we can do when we are firing on all cylinders.”
The win leaves the Riders with a record of 8-1. It’s the first time they have ever had that record after nine games. They are arguably the best team in the league and they are showing everyone that they intend to be playing on their home carpet when Grey Cup 101 is played in November.
Ricky Foley had the opportunity to play with the Argos at Rogers Centre in last year’s Grey Cup game and win. While the season is only at the halfway mark, Foley says he sees a lot of championship stock in the Rider room.
“It’s not too early to talk about that. You need some luck and you need some breaks,” Foley said. “When you look at the mix we have in this room, we have the chemistry and the personalities. I have said it since training camp. We have everything in here that we need to win, its just a case of going out and showing it week after week after week.
The Riders have been doing that with Sunday’s 25 point win being the latest in what is becoming a season to remember. The Riders will look for the season sweep next Sunday in Winnipeg with their next home game coming up on September 14 against the Toronto Argonauts in a 730 start.