One of the hardest hits in the CFL last season was the one Marcellus Bowman delivered to Saskatchewan Roughriders fullback Chris Szarka in the Banjo Bowl.
The play set up so perfectly for Bowman, then a rookie Bomber linebacker, that he knew it was going to be on highlight reels before Szarka even caught the ball.
“When I saw that ball in the air I was like, oh my goodness, this is going to be on Sportscentre. I gotta get there as fast I can,” Bowman said Saturday.
“I know which hits are going to be on any highlight tape whenever I make them. I can feel it. I can feel it in my bones.”
Bowman would love to deliver another bone-jarring thwack in this year’s edition of the Banjo Bowl, which goes Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. in what will be a rocking and sold-out Canad Inns Stadium.
“That’s the perfect time,” said Bowman, who returns to the lineup after missing two games with turf toe. “Unless it’s a championship game, the best time to do it is against your rival. That really sets the tone, makes your point, and you get off the field and that’s it. Game over.”
The East Division-leading Bombers (7-2) have a score to settle with the Riders after getting smoked 27-7 in last week’s Labour Day Classic at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium. Their offence struggled mightily, and their defence gave up big plays at the wrong times.
Meanwhile, the Roughriders (2-7) rode the momentum of head coach Ken Miller’s return last week, and on Sunday they’ll have slotback Andy Fantuz, last year’s leading CFL receiver, back in the lineup for the first time after a failed tryout with the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
The Bombers not only want to avoid getting swept by the Riders, but they probably don’t want to stroll into Montreal for next Sunday’s date with the Alouettes on a two-game losing skid.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of (the Montreal game), so our focus is entirely and solely on this game,” defensive tackle Doug Brown said. “The best thing about our situation right now is we have the opportunity to play this team again. You have to make it as difficult and unfriendly an environment for them to come play in here as it was for us last week.
“We came off a five-game winning streak, and we don’t want to start a streak in another direction. Good teams win at home, and we have to be up to the task.”
The Riders can not only get their Prairie rivals to start doubting themselves, but they can officially turn their dismal season around with a triumph on Sunday.
“In the situation we’re in, any win is a big win,” Miller said Saturday afternoon as banjo music played over the Canad Inns Stadium speakers. “So to get one here that would be back-to-back would be tremendous and give us a tremendous lift.”