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CFL: Roughriders, Lions ready for 2021 opener

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ first home game in 21 months will have a sell-out crowd of 33,350 football-starved fans in the house Friday when the BC Lions visit Regina for the 2021 CFL season opener at Mosaic Stadium.

The West Division rivals will meet again in Vancouver in Week 8 action on Sept. 24.

The Riders’ last home game was the West final on Nov. 17, 2019, against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who won 20-13 before defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to claim the Grey Cup. The 2020 CFL season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saskatchewan finished the 2019 season with the West’s best record at 13-5, while BC was a West-worst 5-13. The Riders swept all three meetings.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo returns for Saskatchewan after leading in the CFL in passing yards (4,302) and throwing 18 touchdown passes against eight interceptions in 2019. The CFL all-star also rushed for 611 yards and 10 scores, but said he isn’t resting on his laurels.

“When you start reading the media, when you start reading your own newspaper clippings, you get a little bit of a bigger head, you get a little bit more of, I guess, sense of privilege,” he told reporters during training camp. “And that’s the last thing I want to do. I’m just here to make the Saskatchewan Roughriders a better team and hopefully a contender to win the Grey Cup in 2021.”

Back under center for the Lions is veteran Michael Reilly. The 36-year-old former CFL Most Outstanding Player (2017) is dedicating the season to his mother, Rhonda, who died in March.

“My mom hated that people called me Mike,” Reilly said in a videoconference last month. “We got into some big arguments about it. She always said, ‘What does your birth certificate say? I named you Michael. I wish you’d go by that.’ It was kind of jokingly, but she was serious about it.”

Reilly passed for 3,897 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 16 starts for BC in 2019 before sustaining a wrist injury with two games remaining. He went over the 30,000-yard mark for his career.

–Field Level Media

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