The CFL's always a good option for CIS football diehards looking for offseason entertainment, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are one of the teams to watch. As Neate pointed out with his list of CIS players in the CFL the other day, Saskatchewan is well ahead of the rest of the league in terms of CIS content. The Roughriders, who start their season tonight against the B.C. Lions, have a league-high 21 CIS-trained players on their roster.
Saskatchewan's Canadian-trained talent is perhaps most evident in the receiving corps, where the Riders have two players who are already stars (slotback Jason Clermont from the University of Regina and wide receiver Andy Fantuz from Western) and three more with serious star potential (wide receiver Rob Bagg from Queen's, who I profiled here, slotback Chris Getzlaf from the University of Regina and wide receiver Adam Nicolson from the University of Ottawa) ; they also have wide receiver Dave McKoy from the University of Guelph, who's currently on the injured list. The Riders are also deep with Canadian talent on the lines and in the secondary.
Their opponents, the B.C. Lions, don't have quite the same number of CIS players, but they have some quality ones. Most of the Lions' CIS stars are on the defensive side of the ball, including linebacker Javy Glatt from Simon Fraser University (a 2008 CFL all-star), defensive end Ricky Foley from York, who will have to try and fill Cameron Wake's shoes, and their top draft pick from this year, James Yurichuk, a linebacker from Bishop's. On offence, SFU centre Angus Reid has been a consistent CFL starter for several years now and has performed well.
It should be an excellent game tonight. There's always a healthy rivalry between the teams, and both will be eager to start the season off on the right foot. One of the big storylines entering tonight's game is a former CIS player as well, Jason Clermont, who went from B.C. to his native Saskatchewan in the off-season. For those looking for a CIS football fix, it might be worth tuning in to see how yesterday's university stars are doing in the pros. I'll be live-blogging the game over at Sporting Madness; kickoff is at 9 p.m. Eastern.