WINNIPEG - Dorian Smith was not about to let the moment pass him — or his Winnipeg Blue Bomber teammates — by.
Sensing things were a bit flat in the locker room, which was understandable considering the circumstances that confronted them in the wake of the passing of coach, mentor and friend Richard Harris, the soft-spoken defensive lineman let his voice be heard on Thursday night before the Bombers hit the field.
Quarterback Buck Pierce gave his customary pre-game speech in the locker room and at its conclusion, Smith took the floor and offered a few thoughts.
“I just felt it — we were kind of sombre and it was a sad moment,” said Smith, who was a force in Thursday’s 25-20 victory that moved the Bombers to 4-1 and into first place in the East Division standings.
“Coach Harris was always the one who lets us know, that if we’re not up before the game, he’s going to say something to get us up. Coach Harris wouldn’t have let us be sad and would have reminded us to respect this field and respect the game.
“The fact they came in and guaranteed a win was disrespectful. I had to say something and let (the team) know that we’ve got to honour him and play our hearts out.”
Smith’s actions on the field were even stronger than his words, as he finished the contest with two sacks and two tackles and was among those applying constant pressure to Lions pivot Travis Lulay.
“It was huge for us,” said Smith, now in his second season with the Bombers. “This is definitely the most emotional game that I’ve ever had. I’m not used to death and for that to be so sudden, I wasn’t sure how to handle it. There were so many emotions going through my mind, I didn’t know whether to tear up or cry. I took the sadness and turned it into anger before the game and just let an animal out.
“He fought for me to be here in my first year. I was going to get released and he fought for me through last year. I was going through some tough times and this year, I talked to him through my grandmother’s death in training camp. He’s always been there for me, like a father. I love him and miss him and anything I can do to honour him, I’ll be there.”
When a quiet guy like Smith speaks out, people take it to heart.
“It shows how much he cares and guys really respond to that too,” said Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice. “They know it’s important when he speaks, because he never speaks. Sometimes silence is a good thing if you want to make your point down the road.”
The Bombers, who lead the East Division at 4-1, return to the practice field Monday to prepare for Friday’s tilt against the league-leading Edmonton Eskimos, who improved to 5-0 with a 26-25 win Friday over the Toronto Argonauts.