It isn't easy beating green

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

Call it Flatline on the Flatland.

Or Reeling in Regina.

Whatever the title, the Renegades haven't been able to figure a way to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Taylor Field in the first three years of the Ottawa franchise's existence.

And this year, the Renegades head to the Saskatchewan capital facing a scenario more unfavourable than normal.

Last week, the Roughriders suffered a crushing 44-18 road defeat against the Calgary Stampeders, a loss that many inhabitants of football-crazed Saskatchewan viewed as nothing less than unacceptable for a team considered a legitimate Grey Cup contender.

Danny Barrett, the former CFL quarterback and now coach of the Riders, ripped into his players following the result in Calgary, and cancelled their day off on Monday.

Meanwhile, fans of the Green & White have voiced disgust with their team for its failure to keep pace with the West Division leaders in B.C. and Edmonton.

On top of that, Roughriders partisans were angered and embarrassed their team wasted a chance to stick it to ex-Riders quarterback Henry Burris, who signed as a free agent with the Stamps during the off-season.

For the unfortunate Renegades, this mixture of toil and trouble leads to nothing but a more hostile environment at Taylor Field during tomorrow night's game.

The fans will be hissing. The players will be ornery.

And Barrett will have his players competing like their jobs -- and his -- are on the line.

The Renegades know it.

"They're going to be (ticked) off," said Renegades defensive lineman Ray Jacobs, a seven-year CFL veteran who played for the Roughriders in 2002. "And if I know Danny Barrett, he wants to win all his games at home, and the fans are going to be disappointed because they lost to Calgary. They're going to be ready and fired up, so it's not going to be a nice atmosphere, and we're expecting a physical, hard game."

Basically, the Renegades need to deliver a top-notch execution of the game plan to escape Regina with the first victory there in team history.

In fact, no Ottawa football team has won at Taylor Field since 1992, when the Eastern Riders beat their Western namesakes.

That's not as bad a blemish as the ridiculous string of losses by Ottawa pro football teams in Edmonton (since 1983), but nonetheless is one of those sore spots for the franchise.

It's just a tough place to play.

"From their fans, we expect to get what we always get, and that's no respect whatsoever," said Jerome Haywood, a Renegades defensive lineman who's considered one of the fan favourites when he's in Ottawa.

NO HOLDING BACK

But not in Regina, where the fans at Taylor Field don't hold back when letting players from the visiting team know what they think.

Haywood, for example, took some abuse from fans who mocked him for his 5-foot-9, 280-lb. frame.

"Win or lose, they don't really care," said Haywood.

"It's like, 'Aw, you're fat. Aw, you missed a tackle.' To me, it's fun because I get to yap back.

"Sometimes your temper gets lost, but as long as you turn back and play the game, you're fine."

"I'm expecting nothing less than a hostile crowd, and that's the only Saskatchewan I know," said defensive back Dave Donaldson, a Winnipeg native who grew up a Blue Bombers fan despising the rival Roughriders.

"I love it when the fans get involved in the game. That's what I love about the CFL and what I love about the West," he said. "Hopefully, we can bring that attitude to our stadium where fans can get engaged with not the home team, but with the opposing team."


Videos

Photos