By: Adam Bent
REGINA – It was locker-room clean-out day for the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Monday. Less than 24 hours after seeing his team’s season come to an end, Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson is already looking forward to next season.
“I told the team to be grateful and thankful for the year we had,” said Dickenson. “Be thankful for the year we had and the relationships we built.”
“It’s healthy to get away from football, reflect on the season and how much you enjoyed it.”
The team saw its season come to an end after a last second defeat at the hands of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Sunday night at Mosaic Stadium. The Riders were hosting the CFL’s western final for the first time since 2009. The team was looking for its 19th grey cup appearance.
When asked how long it will take him to get over the defeat, Dickenson responded “about a week, it’s always tough watching the grey cup when you think that you should be in it yourself.”
The Riders had a chance to tie the game late and perhaps force overtime. On the last play of the game, quarterback Cody Fajardo threw a pass to open receiver Kyran Moore, but it hit the field goal post and ended the play. The Riders had high hopes after posting a 13-5 record.
The coaching staff faced scrutiny for their play calling and game plan on Sunday night. Dickenson addressed the claims, “Do we wish we could have had another crack at it (the final drive) and done it differently? Probably, but Winnipeg deserves a lot of credit.”
After the tough loss, Fajardo took to Twitter to apologize to fans for the loss.
“I am sorry I let you down tonight. Even though I want to look forward to next year I can’t help but think about how wonderful this year was.”
Fajardo battled through an oblique injury and was questionable to play
Coach Dickenson praised Fajardo for playing through the injury. “He’s a tough guy,” said Dickenson. “He’s a team-above-self-guy. He didn’t say it but he lived it. He showed a lot of leadership and a lot of toughness out there.
“It was a 4-6 week recovery time for his injury. We rushed him back but we needed him and we knew he wanted to play.”
With almost more looming free agents than players signed, the Riders have many decisions to make, Dickenson said. Dickenson said he knows it’s going to be an important offseason for Rider Nation with the team hosting next year’s Grey Cup and expectations being higher than ever.