June 1, 2023

Game Preview | Pre-season vs SSK

Scene setter:

Settle in for the final tune-up for both squads before the 2023 Canadian Football League season begins next week. The Blue Bombers edged the Edmonton Elks 25-23 in Alberta last Saturday, with the Roughriders rallying from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 30-27 home win over the B.C. Lions.

The Blue Bombers will open their 2023 regular season at home against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday, June 9th while the Riders will be in Edmonton to face the Elks two days later on Sunday, June 11th.

The Basics

Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m., IG Field, Winnipeg
Tickets: Buy here
Live streaming: here
Radio: 680 CJOB
Last meeting: September 30th, 2022, at IG Field: Winnipeg 31 Saskatchewan 13

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The QBs

  • Winnipeg lines up Zach Collaros behind centre this season, although he won’t dress against the Riders after playing last week with Dru Brown, Tyrrell Pigrome and Josh Jones sharing the work. Collaros is 61-37 in his career and now a remarkable 33-5 in his games as a starter in Winnipeg, including playoffs and two Grey Cup victories.
  • Saskatchewan has welcomed long-time CFL vet Trevor Harris to Roughrider green this offseason. A veteran of nine seasons with Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Montreal, Harris did not play in the first preseason game as he stayed back for the birth of his third son, Tripp. He is 48-46-2 as a starter in his career.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 82-58. O’Shea’s 82 wins as a Blue Bombers head coach ranks third on the club’s all-time list, behind only Bud Grant (102) and Cal Murphy (86).

Saskatchewan: Craig Dickenson, a former Blue Bombers assistant, is entering his fourth year as the Roughriders head coach. The team is 28-22 under his watch, after a 6-12 finish last season.


The Blue Bombers will be sitting several veterans for Friday’s game, along with those out due to injury. Not playing against the Riders are WR/KR Janarion Grant and RB Brady Oliveira, both of whom resumed practising on Wednesday along with QB Zach Collaros, receivers Nic Demski, Dalton Schoen and Kenny Lawler, offensive linemen Pat Neufeld, Chris Kolankowski, Jermarcus Hardrick and Stanley Bryant, fullback Mike Miller, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and defensive backs Nick Hallett, Deatrick Nichols and Alden Darby, Jr.

Currently injured are LB Adam Bighill, RB/WR Greg McCrae, CBs Winston Rose and Desmond Lawrence along with LB Kyrie Wilson, DE Thiadric Hansen and OL Tui Eli.


Liegghio has had a solid camp, even as veteran Sergio Castillo and rookie Chandler Staton have pushed him for the placekicking chores and Jamieson Sheahan and Karl Schmitz are chasing the punting gig.

Liegghio handled all the Blue Bombers kicking chores last year, finishing at 82.1% in his field-goal attempts and 91.8 % of his converts, while averaging 46.9 yards as a punter.

And he’s heading into Friday’s game with the mindset this is his job, and the other candidates are going to have to snatch it away from him.

“I think that’s the attitude you should have all the time even if you’re a new guy coming in,” Liegghio said Wednesday. “It’s your job, so you just feel as comfortable as it is, and you don’t let other things affect you.”

As much as it is a competition, Liegghio said the kickers in camp have also been helping each other while fighting for the gigs.

“We bounce off each other a little bit,” he said. “It’s almost like we’re coaching each other and learning from each other. That’s why it’s also nice having a bit more friends out here, more people to kick the ball around with.

“I feel comfortable. This is my third year here now. I’ve got the lay of the land and everything and so I’m pretty sure it’s just go out there and do your thing and not really think about anything else.”


This from the Dept. of Completely Useless stats: the Blue Bombers have won both preseason games only once in the 17 years dating back to 2004 – not including the lost 2020 campaign and the shortened 2021 season where no preseason games were played.

For what it’s worth, Winnipeg last won both preseason games in 2019 with wins over Edmonton and Saskatchewan.