September 6, 2019

Game Preview | Banjo Bowl

Winnipeg Blue Bombers DE Jackson Jeffcoat holds the Banjo Bowl after defeating the Saskatchewan Roughriders in CFL action in Winnipeg on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (CFL PHOTO - Jason Halstead)

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THE 4-1-1

Kickoff: 3 p.m., Saturday; IG Field
Radio: 680 CJOB
Vegas line: The Bombers are favoured by one point.
Home/Road: The Bombers are 5-0 at home; the Riders are 2-2 on the road.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 1L; Saskatchewan: 6W
Recent history: These two clubs met last week in the Labour Day Classic, with the Riders winning 19-17 on a last-play 16-yard field goal by Brett Lauther. The Bombers are 3-3 after their 5-0 start while the Riders are on a six-game heater after opening their season 1-3.
Series: The Bombers are 135-105-4 all-time vs. the Roughriders and hold an 8-7 advantage in the 15-year history of the Banjo Bowl.



A couple of weeks ago in the days leading up to the Bombers visit to Edmonton, yours truly fired off a missive to CFL headquarters asking for clarification on the league’s tiebreaker rules, should the two squads have not only split the season series, but finished with the same points for and against.

The Bombers made that point moot with their win and but the reply from the league joked that ‘it’s never too early to be talking about tiebreakers, is it?’

Well, there will be no gray area when it comes to the Bombers and Roughriders. These two squads will meet three times over the course of six weeks, with the Labour Day Classic and Saturday’s Banjo Bowl followed by an October 5th date back in Regina.

The Riders have won the first leg in this best-of-three and could earn a critical tiebreaker advantage with a win in either of the next two games. Of course, finding a Bombers player who will bite into that narrative is next to impossible.

“Our players are very intelligent. They know where we stand and where we’re at,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “It’s just through the course of the week that’s not our focus. Our focus is on this play and that play, this defence and this call and how to do this and how to do that. That’s where our focus lies, in installation and execution in practice and film study.

“We try not to spend a lot of time, if any, talking about other things that really don’t play a huge role in executing a gameplan against an opponent. Our players are all aware of where we’re at and where our opponent’s at.”


The Bombers offence didn’t just spin its wheels in last week’s loss in Regina, it sunk down deep into the mud with a horrific start that saw the attack finish the first quarter with -10 yards of net offence.

But it was up out of the muck and chugging along by game’s end, having generated 21 first downs and 335 yards of offence in the final three quarters. It also cranked out an 11-play, 63-yard drive that not only took 6:35 off the clock in the fourth quarter, but was capped by a Chris Streveler touchdown that gave the club a 17-16 lead with just over three minutes remaining.

We all know how the ending unfolded, but the question is whether the regrouping of the offence is something that can carry over to Saturday.

“In the second half we were able to move the ball a little bit after the first quarter, where we ran six plays and that’s tough,” said Streveler this week. “But we put together a good drive there at the end of the first half to go get three points and we put that long drive together at the end of the game to end up going up, so we definitely did some good things. But when watched the film we all felt like there was some opportunities that we missed.

“It’s working on correcting mistakes and seeing things clearly, getting people in the right positions and making plays.”


The Bombers defence has authored some dandy scripts this season and last week’s effort was intensely compelling… until the very last page. And letting a lead slip in the final three minutes was a hard lesson for the Bombers to learn over the last few weeks.

“It’s all about playing a complete game,” said middle linebacker Adam Bighill. “You’ve got to finish and it’s something we say in our room every day. We’ve got to finish strong. You’ve got to play 60 full minutes in this league and we’ve seen it time and time again… no lead is safe in the CFL.”

“That last three minutes is not something you hold on to, but try to learn from,” added cornerback Chandler Fenner. “You absorb it and if you are in that situation in a future game you say, ‘This is how we’ll play it this time.’ That’s all you can take from it.

“The last couple of weeks you’ve seen how we have a diverse group on this defence. Guys have gone down, guys have stepped up. That’s encouraging and as a defence we’ve evolved over the last couple of weeks in terms of making adjustments on the field and progress as a whole.”


  • Winnipeg’s Chris Streveler is 2-4 as a starter over the last two years and 0-1 vs. the Riders.
  • Saskatchewan’s Cody Fajardo is 7-2 this year as a starter, his first run at the controls of an offence since entering the league.



#27 Johnny Augustine, RB: He was solid in his first CFL start with 12 carries for 98 yards and three more catches for 17 yards. Steady in pass protection, too.

#89 Kenny Lawler, WR: Lawler led the Bombers with four catches for 67 yards in last week’s loss and including a nine-yard TD and a 37-yarder that converted a second-and-12.

#23 Anthony Gaitor, DB/LB: Continues to be one of the CFL’s unheralded defensive players. Lines up at the difficult strong-side linebacker/Dime spot and is solid against versus the pass and stepping up into the box. Had five tackles and a sack last week.


#17 Chris Streveler, QB: The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Streveler seemed to settle in at the Bombers controls last week and be more comfortable in his reads. He’s established himself as a bulldozer as a runner and if he can morph into an effective passer the Bombers offence becomes that much more dangerous.


The Bombers are making four changes to their 46-man roster this week. Coming on are SB Rasheed Bailey, RB Larry Rose III, LS Maxime Latour and DB Dondre Wright. Off are SB Lucky Whitehead, LS Chad Rempel, DB Mike Jones and DB Mercy Maston.

Bailey is listed as the starter in Whitehead’s slotback spot and will be backed up by Janarion Grant. Latour and Miles are listed at the long-snapper spot usually held by Rempel. The Bombers also list Rose III as a back-up to Johnny Augustine at RB, after not having a reserve tailback a week ago.


The Bombers have won eight straight at home dating back to last year, their longest stretch since 1993-94.


  • There have been nine sweeps in the Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl doubleheader – seven by the Riders (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2018) and two by the Bombers (2004, 2016). There have been six splits.
  • Saturday’s game will be the 150th in Stanley Bryant’s 10-year career, and his 150th career start.
  • Teams that score first in the Banjo Bowl have won two thirds of the games (10 of 15).
  • This will be the seventh Banjo Bowl for Bombers DT Jake Thomas, the most by any active player on the two rosters.
  • Riders receiver Manny Arceneaux has a catch in 107 consecutive games.
  • Winnipeg is 1-3 in games without Andrew Harris dating back to his arrival here in 2016.
  • A couple of notes for fans who are heading to IG Field: The tailgate area opens at noon and there will be a special ‘Banjo Bowl Burger’ available on Saturday. It’s not as enormous as the infamous ‘Walby Burger’, but early scouting reports have described it as absolutely delicious. This week’s concert artist is Tyler Del Pino, who has been described as ‘an organic hybrid of pop/rock and country’.