The CFL couldn’t have asked for a better final four.
This Sunday will see the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders battling it out for the West Division title, while the Toronto Argonauts host their longtime provincial rivals in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the crown in the East.
“I’m going to be quite biased, but I think this is the best rivalry in the CFL. It’s two fan bases that really care about their teams and dislike the other. It’s two provinces that don’t get along too well during football season,” said Bombers defensive tackle Jake Thomas on the matchup with the Riders.
“If you had to draw up two games for the league I think they probably would have picked these two matchups. It’s great to see these Labour Day matchups in December.”
Thomas, 30, has been a Bomber since 2012, but this weekend will be only the second time that’s he’s experienced a home playoff game. The only other time was in 2017 when the Bombers hosted the West Division semi-final, a 39-32 loss to Edmonton.
“I think we’ve been building for these moments over the last few years. But yeah, they don’t come here too often. I think guys realize how important it is and it gives us a great chance to go where we want to go,” said Thomas.
But this time around, the Bombers find themselves as the heavy favourites. They swept the 9-5 Riders this year with the 11-3 Bombers outscoring them 55-17 and by a mark of 37-0 in the second half in their two meetings. Saskatchewan is also coming off a mediocre performance where quarterback Cody Fajardo threw four interceptions in last week’s 33-30 West Division semi-final overtime victory against Calgary. Early Wednesday morning, Winnipeg was slotted as a 7.5-point favourite over Saskatchewan.
“I don’t think that really fazes guys too much… I’m sure in 2019 we weren’t favourites any week so I don’t think we can put too much stock into those betting lines,” Thomas said.
It was announced Wednesday that Thomas is the Blue Bomber nominee for the Jake Gaudaur Veterans’ Award.
The award has been presented since 2010 and is named in honour of Jake Gaudaur — a distinguished Second World War veteran and the longest-serving Commissioner in CFL history. The honour recognizes ‘a Canadian CFL player who demonstrates the attributes of Canada’s veterans: strength, perseverance, courage, comradeship and contribution to Canadian communities.’
“Any time you’re nominated for something, it’s nice,” said Thomas. “I’m not too big on individual awards — probably because I don’t win them too often — and I think everyone is just focussed on the Grey Cup. But I’m sure my mom is going to be happy.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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