At every Saskatchewan Roughriders home game, a loyal constituency of fans can be seen proudly wearing green jerseys bearing the number (7) and good name of Weston Dressler.
“I just assumed all the 7’s had ‘Jefferson’ on the back of them now,” a chuckling Dressler, now of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, said Tuesday in reference to Roughriders defensive end Willie Jefferson. “He’s a pretty good player out there.
“That connection with the fans will always be there for me. That mutual respect back and forth is pretty special. Obviously, some of the greatest fans in the world are out there. They’re always supporting their team and supporting their players. It’s something that I’ve never taken for granted and will always appreciate well after my time with football is done.”
Regardless of what Dressler accomplishes with the Bombers, he will always be associated with Saskatchewan. He was a phenomenally popular member of the Roughriders from 2008 to 2015, posting the first five of his six 1,000-yard seasons as a CFLer.
He also helped the Roughriders win a home-field Grey Cup in 2013, catching a touchdown pass in a 45-23 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
For the time being, the 101st Grey Cup is the most-recent post-season game to have been played in Regina.
The five-year drought will be snapped Sunday, when the Roughriders play host to Dressler and the Bombers in the West Division semi-final.
If you live in Edmonton, Montreal or Toronto, who do you root for? You have no direct vested interest in the playoffs beyond hoping for entertaining contests. You have to pick someone, right? Since my team was officially eliminated in Week 2 after Calgary dummied them 41-7 in their home opener, I needed to adopt someone and theres no squad who is as fascinating as the Roughriders.
“It’s always a little different playing against the Riders, just because of the history that’s there,” said Dressler, 33, who signed with the Bombers in 2016 after being released by Saskatchewan for financial reasons.
“I’ll never forget all the things that we accomplished while I was there — the good times, the bad times.
“As far as the game itself goes, once the game gets going and you get into the game, I want to win just as badly no matter who we’re playing.
“I really enjoy being a part of the Blue Bombers right now, the organization, and the guys we have in the locker room right now, who I’m having a blast with. I want to hopefully come out with a win for those guys just as much as anything else.”
As Jamie Nye pointed out Tuesday on CJME’s Green Zone, the 2018 Blue Bombers had a 10-3 record when Dressler was in the lineup, but were 0-5 when he was sidelined.
Dressler, being as modest as he is classy, will never take credit for such things. He is much quicker, though, single out others — such as Darian Durant, for example.
When the Roughriders last staged a West Division semi-final, it wasn’t looking promising for the home side. The B.C. Lions provided the toughest test of the 2013 post-season for the eventual Grey Cup champions, who won their following two playoff games by a combined score of 80-36.
Saskatchewan trailed the Lions 17-16 at halftime and 25-16 after three quarters before Durant, as Dressler put it, “kind of took over for us and almost singlehandedly won us that game.”
On the final play of the third quarter, Durant ran for 15 yards to extend a drive. Two plays later, in another second-and-10 situation, he took off on a 35-yard run to set up his 10-yard touchdown pass to Dressler, who scored his second major of the game.
The Roughriders’ next possession — an eight-play, 49-yard march — ended with a 45-yard Chris Milo field goal that put the home side ahead, 26-25.
Durant used his mobility once again late in the fourth quarter, running for gains of 28 (again on second-and-10) and 13 (on second-and-7) to put Saskatchewan in position for a 28-yard field goal by Milo, who concluded the scoring with 51 seconds remaining.
The Roughriders are poised to make history Sunday, when the first post-season game at new Mosaic Stadium is to be played.
Despite his current affiliation, don’t be surprised if, as usual, there are abundant green “Dresslers” — wearing the number 7 — in the audience.
The Riders had a light workout while preparing to host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Semifinal on Sunday. Collaros went through the session taking all the reps as a starting quarterback normally would do.
Collaros was knocked out of the Riders last game in Week 20 when B.C. Lions defensive lineman Odell Willis delivered a controversial hit on the 30-year-old. Saskatchewan’s pivot stayed in the game despite being in visible discomfort.
During 14 games in the regular season, Collaros completed 61 per cent of his passes (234-of-382) for 2,999 yards, nine touchdowns against 13 interceptions.
While the Riders were on a bye for the final week of the regular season, the Riders signed veteran quarterback Drew Tate, prompting some concern about Collaros’ health status. But all signs point to Collaros starting in the first playoff game at new Mosaic Stadium.