‘If we don’t win this game, it’s going to be a disappointing year’: Craig Dickenson gives Riders impassioned West Semi-Final speech

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders/Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

It’s fitting that Craig Dickenson would choose a playoff game against the Stampeders to give his most John Hufnagel-esque speech of the season.

Dickenson was Calgary’s special teams coach when he and the rest of the Stamps heard ‘Huf’ give his infamous ‘We got ’em right where we want em’ plea inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium just before kick-off in the 2008 Grey Cup.

Dickenson didn’t do it pre-game but rather during the week leading up to Sunday’s West Semi-Final was where the Riders bench boss let his group know what was at stake in a direct way.

“I told the team that if we don’t win this game, it’s going to be a disappointing year. I feel that way personally and I hope they feel that way in there as well,” Dickenson said.

“They don’t ask you when you go home for Christmas what you finished during the regular season, they want to know who won the Grey Cup and were you in that game.”

The Rider head coach is in no mood to play it safe in the 2021 CFL playoffs.

“I laid it on the guys pretty thick, I said the pressure is on us to do well and to win this game, now whether we respond or not, we’ll see. But I know this: that you’re judged on how you do in the playoffs as a coaching staff and as a team,” Dickenson said.

“This is a home game we worked hard to get, we had to win nine [games] to be able to get the home game, we got it. We’ve got it right where we want it, now it’s on us to play well and to perform on Sunday.”

Dickenson might stay in Montana for half the year but he knows winters are long on the prairies and even longer when the Roughriders can’t win the last game left to be won.

“It’s an important game, it’s an important game for all of us here in this building and it’s an important game for this province and our guys know that. The challenge is for us to rise to the occasion, that’s for sure,” Dickenson said.

“We haven’t played our best game and me as a coach, I always just want us to play our best, win, lose or draw and I don’t think we’ve done that yet. I’m hoping we can do it this week.”

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.