Number of Riders’ players to be game-time decisions for Banjo Bowl due to stomach flu: report

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are expected to be at less than full strength for their Banjo Bowl clash with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday afternoon, after an outbreak of stomach flu put the status of several players in jeopardy.

According to team play-by-play man Michael Ball: “A few Riders have been hit with the stomach flu. Not sure exact numbers but what I can tell you is that Jake Dolegala has flown into [Winnipeg] and Mason Fine won’t play.”

Ball later followed up his initial report with a second tweet, adding: “It’s a lot more than a ‘few’ Riders battling this stomach virus. It will be a game-time decision for some of the players!”

According to 3DownNation’s John Hodge, the following players are absent from the team’s pre-game warmup: fullback James Tuck; receivers Justin McInnis, Samuel Emilus, and Kian Schaffer-Baker; offensive lineman Josiah St. John; linebacker Gary Johnson Jr.; and defensive back Jeremy Clark. Offensive lineman Jamal Campbell wasn’t initially on the field, but later joined his teammates.

The Riders later announced that Tuck and Clark would not dress. As an adjustment, Amari Henderson will bump over to halfback while Canadian Nelson Lokombo takes over at field corner, with Blace Brown drawing into the lineup as a backup. Jake Harty and Emilus become the starting receivers with Schaffer-Baker and McInnis backing up, while rookie offensive lineman Diego Alatorre-Montoya will dress as insurance.

Fine was listed as the team’s backup quarterback for the annual rivalry rematch, a role he’s held in 12 games this season. The second-year man out of the University of North Texas has completed 24-of-37 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in relief action this season.

This is the second time in 2022 that a sudden rash of illness has forced Dolegala into action. After an outbreak of COVID-19 delayed the Riders’ Week 7 game against Toronto, the 25-year-old rookie made the start as the team’s only healthy quarterback. He finished 13-of-28 passing for 131 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Riders are looking to avenge their 20-18 loss to the Bombers in last week’s Labour Day Classic. Kick-off at a sold-out IG Field is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. EST.