Sunday, October 17, 2004

Prairie pride at the 55 yard line

Sunday’s match up between the Riders and the Eskies is more than just a fall afternoon’s diversion; it’s more of a battle over pride of place, both in the standings and in the country. The Eskimos approach Taylor Field on Sunday fully aware that a win in Regina for an Edmonton team is a rather rare thing to gain.

The last time an Edmonton squad came into Regina and left with two points was the 2001 season, since then trip to Taylor is a Death Valley experience for green and gold explorers. The players on the Riders know the importance of any game against the Esks, they can feel it wherever they go, any season may end in disappointment by the end of October, but if the Riders have beaten the Esks and all is forgiven until the next yeaar. Rider fans get no greater enjoyment than beating the Esks, considered an Evil Empire by the legion of fans that congregate at Taylor field.

This year though instead of bragging rights something even more tangible is up for grabs, with a win Sunday, the Riders can put themselves into the drivers’ seat for a playoff home date, something they haven’t been able to offer their fans since 1988! The anticipation of buying a playoff ticket is something that is feeding the fan frenzy this year with the visit of the Eskimos.

The Riders are on a four game winning streak, having played increasingly more confident football since that spectacular tumble to 4-8 earlier this year. The last four weeks have provided Saskatchewan fans with the team they believed they had at training camp, a solid running game, a scrambling exciting quarterback finally getting his groove back, another veteran QB almost ready for action and a defence that is more than ready to crush the opposition. All signs point to a team finally putting it all together.

The Eskimos, who have been hot and cold all year, currently are on a hot streak setting the scene for what should be a very exciting contest on the cold windswept plains of Taylor Field. The fans will drive in from Moosimin to Prince Albert and Lloydmister to Swift Current for this one, loyalty a trait that is passed on from generation to generation.

Sunday, loyalty may finally get rewarded, and with it the chance to come back into the cold and snow in the first week of November. And the best news for a Rider fan, the opposition then might very well be these same Eskimos, the League couldn’t write a better script if they tried!

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