The Canadian Football League's maritime event 'Touchdown Atlantic' is back this weekend as the Saskatchewan Roughriders take on the Toronto Argonauts from Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
"It is so wonderful to be back in Atlantic Canada," said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a recent letter to the fans, "We would be thrilled to have a CFL team in the region. We need to grow. We’re confident a team here would be a great success."
The Roughriders arrived in the provincial capital of Halifax on Wednesday ahead of their neutral site game against Toronto, and after some light practice and fresh lobster, the team should be on their way about 90 km northwest to Wolfville.
Logan Ferland and company should be ready to go. It's been three games without their man in the middle Dan Clark, but his replacement Logan Bandy has gotten better every week as the offense continues establishing themselves.
West Central Online spoke with Ferland before he hopped on the plane headed out east, and he is confident with the direction of the team after a few weeks now without the veteran Clark.
"Things have definitely tightened up. The more you play, the closer your group gets together right?," said Ferland, though the missing piece in Clark is still looming large, "As far as Dan, he is obviously a huge missing piece. It is pretty tough sometimes, and you know Bandy is a young centre who isn't going to call absolutely everything Dan would call, but he's doing the best he can, and Dan is doing great in offering a lot of leadership skills in the locker room and the film room."
Ferland said that Clark is doing more than enough off the field as he works through his injury, and the results may be showing through on the field as the Roughriders backfield of Jamal Morrow and Frankie Hickson were each in the league's top 5 for rushing yards headed into the current week. The offensive line room is definitely proud of that accomplishment as they look to create some more running lanes this week.
"The closest the line can get to a positive game is when your running backs are doing well. Obviously a zero sack game would be the cherry on top," said Ferland, "We live through those guys, so we're going to continue to do that. We are very excited to try and keep the run game going here, and keep improving the pass game."
The team was excited to be chosen for this year's edition of Touchdown Atlantic back in March. Ferland has seemed to enjoy his time so far before getting down to business, and spoke a bit about the opportunity.
"I've only been out east that far one time, so I'm looking forward to being away from practice so we can experience a bit of the town. Check out some fresh lobster."
It's pretty hard to defeat an offensive lineman's stomach, but nobody is more happy to be in Atlantic Canada than Roughriders kicker Brett Lauther. The team just has to hope his time out there doesn't allow his east coast accent to come back to life before the flight home.
"Oh he's very excited. He's been getting tickets from everyone. He’s obviously got quite a few family members out there," said Ferland of his teammate and one of the top kickers in the CFL, "You can tell Brett is pretty excited to get out there and finally play in front of a lot of his family."
There is no confirmation yet if Dan Clark made the trip out east, but word has it there is a lunchtime reservation pending at the finest seafood spot in Regina if the big man was forced to stick back home.