For the first time since their last Grey Cup championship season of 2013, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are a perfect 3-0.
And the Green and White are the last unbeaten team through Week 3 of the 2021 CFL season by way of Saturday night’s 23-10 defensive gem over the Ottawa Redblacks.
Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo is elated to have this kind of start to the long-awaited return of three-down football. He struggled to finish drives in the victory over Ottawa, but still managed to complete more than 85 percent of his passes. That’s the highest rate he’s completed in any of his games with Saskatchewan.
“It feels good, especially with the history but we’re not going to win the Grey Cup in Week 3, Week 4 or Week 5. We’re going to win the Grey Cup at the end of the year, so that’s our main focus,” Fajardo said post-game.
“I think that’s what makes me a little bit more unique as a quarterback: win games by any means necessary. I don’t care if I throw for 50 yards or run for 50 yards, if we’re winning football games, that’s a really fun locker room to be in.”
Rookie Canadian receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker made his CFL debut in Saturday’s win and even chipped in with four catches for 64 yards. He admits it’s hard not to get excited about playing on a team with the league’s best record.
“That’s an amazing feeling, especially going into the bye week. It gives us a lot of confidence but the biggest thing is to never get too high or too low about that,” Schaffer-Baker said.
“We could easily come in and take our foot off the gas because we’re the number one team now, but this is just momentum and fire for us to keep building and keep getting better.”
Head coach Craig Dickenson has to be satisfied going into an off-week where he’ll spend more time fishing with his dad and less time at the office. Although he too is quick to catch himself to keep this high at a minimum.
“It means we had a good start to the season and that’s about it, though. Three games is only three games and so there’s a lot of games to be played,” Dickenson said.
“It’s still how you finish, not how you start, but we certainly will take a quick start. That’s something we planned on doing and we’re happy we’re at 3-0 right now.”
Given the highly unusual start to the season with four straight home games, the Roughriders faced enormous pressure to get off to a strong start in 2021. But even Dickenson admits this has exceeded his expectations as he had set a goal of winning at least two of the Riders first three games before the week off.
It’s already creating a recipe for a classic Labour Day weekend showdown with the prairie rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers.