Saturday, 17 June 2017

Is Carter’s bad reputation from the past overblown?

Receiver might be a welcome surprise to Roughriders

Roughriders receiver Duron Carter (#89) high-fives a young fan.
    Is Duron Carter really the bad guy he has been made out to be in the media and even the social media world?
    The 26-year-old is one of the most intriguing arrivals on to the Saskatchewan Roughriders this season. After playing three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes, the picture that has been painted of Carter is one of the diva receiver like in the image of former NFL standouts Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson.
    The reputation comes from Carter’s touchdown celebration last season in a game against the Ottawa Redblacks, where he knocked down Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell. Carter was suspended one game for that incident by the CFL.
    In the second half of last season, he got into a couple of heated arguments with then Alouettes quarterback Rakeem Cato. Carter was released by the Alouettes following a Week 17 loss to the Calgary Stampeders.
    During his collegiate career, Carter, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 205 pounds, was a member of four different programs over four years from 2009 to 2012 due to issues with academics. His stops included Ohio State University (2009), Coffeyville Community College (2010), University of Alabama (2011) and Florida Atlantic University (2012). Carter didn’t dress for a single regular season game during his time at the University of Alabama and Florida Atlantic University.
Duron Carter smiles during practice.
    He entered the collegiate ranks after obtaining star status with St. Thomas Aquanas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, helping that program win back-to-back Florida 5A state titles in 2007 and 2008. Carter’s fan interest also increased due to the fact he was the son of legendary NFL receiver Cris Carter.
    While Cris Carter faced adversity early in his NFL career, the Pro Football Hall of Famer is remembered for achieving greatness due to the fact he became the ultimate polished professional.
    When you see Duron Carter play, you see someone with NFL level talent. He spent the 2015 campaign on the practice roster of the NHL’s Indianapolis Colts.
    In the CFL, Carter has the ability to make explosive and exciting plays few others can in the league. That was seen on Friday, when he made a deep acrobatic catch in double coverage in the first quarter of a 42-10 pre-season loss to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver.
    Back on Aug. 16, 2014, Carter showed off his athletic ability returning a missed field goal 123 yards for a touchdown for the Alouettes in a 16-11 loss to the Roughriders at historic Taylor Field.
    He is averaging close to 1,000 yard receiving in each of his first three complete CFL campaigns despite being out for chunks of time and Montreal having uncertainty at quarterback. In 14 games with the Alouettes last season, he had 61 catches for 938 yards and scored five touchdowns.
    During training camp with the Roughriders, Carter’s work ethic has been there. He has been jovial, but he hasn’t gone over the line in bragging like Owens or Johnson traditionally did. When he has been interviewed, he has shown good respect for veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn, who was a former Alouettes teammate.
Duron Carter (#89) makes a TD catch during a scrimmage.
    When young fans arrived from various grade schools to watch Roughriders practice sessions in Saskatoon, Carter seemed to be in his element interacting with the youngsters.     He has done enough in his short time with the Roughriders you start to wonder if his bad press was overblown. 
    Having guys on your team who are jovial and have a lot of self-belief is a good thing. Good players have to believe in themselves in order to succeed. During the history of the CFL, there have been lots of players that have come through the league who have succeeded and been jovial and self-confident like Carter.
    The Roughriders are deep at the receiver position, and Carter is likely the most talented and the best pass catcher of that bunch.
    He might turn out to be a big catch for the team both on and off the field.

Blades colour “Pac-Man” logo for pride festival

    A big thumbs up has to go to the Saskatoon Blades for this sweet Twitter post on June 9.
    The Blades put out this tweet on June 9 to signal the start of the 25th Saskatoon Pride Festival, which included a cool artistic rendering of the team’s classic “Pac-Man” logo in rainbow tinged colours. The tweet contained a link taking you to a web page with information about the festival.
    When it comes showing acceptance for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community, all the little things add up. This tweet was a cool thing to see come from a WHL club.
    While the game on the ice has changed a lot in the WHL over the past two decades with the focus concentrated on systems and skill, there are still a lot of casual followers that see the circuit as a rough and tumble league with three to four fights and possibility a couple of line brawls occurring each game. Stereotypically, circuits like the WHL and men’s hockey in general are viewed as places where men are supposed to men and masculine and aren’t tolerant of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community.
    The tweet by the Blades helps challenge this stereotype.
    Back in the days when I worked at the Medicine Hat News covering the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, I checked out the Pride Parade in Saskatoon in 2012, while in the city on a vacation week. I tweeted a few photos of that event, because the artistic imagery with the colours was just so great.
    When I returned to work at the News, I was talking with a very social conscious co-worker. The co-worker said it was a good thing I tweeted those pictures of Saskatoon’s Pride Parade due to the fact I was known for covering the Tigers and my actions showed others it was OK to be accepting.
    I didn’t think that hard about tweeting those photos, but I liked the fact in a small way it was a public show of acceptance. The Blades Tweet does the same thing.
    It should be noted as well the University of Saskatchewan Huskies put a rainbow flag behind the logo on their Twitter account for the Saskatoon Pride Festival. During the 2015-16 season, the Huskies did a launch to announce they would be part of the “You Can Play Project,” that believes athletes should be judged on talent, heart and work ethic and not sexual orientation or gender identity.
    The Saskatoon Pride Festival runs to June 25, and the annual Pride Parade is set for June 24 at 1 p.m. in downtown Saskatoon.

Fights not fun plagued some Rush post-game parties

Good Rush fans tailgate near SaskTel Centre in 2016.
  The Saskatchewan Rush of the National Lacrosse League put on the best home game spectacle out of any sports team based in Saskatoon, but it seemed this season the positive vibe often didn’t find its way to the after parties.
    During the Rush’s first season being based out of Saskatoon in 2016 that saw the club win the NLL title, fans often bolted out of the SaskTel Centre to Saskatoon’s various night hot spots. They had a great time celebrating what the Rush did like Saskatchewan Roughriders fans do during good times after home games in Regina.
    This season, Rush post-game celebrations seemed to take on a different feel. Back on a Saturday in February, I took off to one of my favourite night spots to see some friends after covering U of Saskatchewan Huskies hockey. Rush lacrosse was going on at the same time that night as Huskies hockey.
    When I arrived at the nightspot, I saw three fights going down in the parking lot and eight police officers trying to calm the situation down. I saw a friend who worked security at the night spot looking super stressed, and I had never seen him like that before.
    Judging the clothes some of the fight participants wore, you could tell they likely attended the Rush game and likely got rowdy after having a few too many alcoholic beverages. I didn’t make it in the doors of the nightspot and instead elected to go home.
    Over the next few weeks, I talked with a handful of friends, who are veterans working in Saskatoon’s night club scene. In general, they said Rush game nights went from being their favourite working nights in 2016 to least favourite working nights in 2017. The change in opinion came from the fact more rowdiness and fights were present in recently completed 2017 campaign.
    That was sad to hear, because I know sports fans in Saskatchewan can be way better than that. Here is hoping Rush post-game parties at local nightspots will return to the vibe they had during the franchise’s first season in Saskatoon.

Carpenter-Boesch has a good hockey tough look

Lilla Carpenter-Boesch.
    I couldn’t believe I didn’t come across this before, but I came away impressed with Lilla Carperter-Boesch’s mug shot on her profile page of the University of Regina athletics web site.
    Carpenter-Boesch was a rookie centre for the Cougars women’s hockey team this past season, and her left eye was looking black from a hockey battle.
    When it comes to picture day for a university team’s individual profile pictures, players from women’s teams usually doll themselves up with makeup to look perfect.
    As for Carpenter-Boesch, she looked like she wanted the share a memento from a hockey battle.
    The mug shot likely would have given the 18-year-old street cred from the alums of the Cougars 2001 Canada West Championship winning team, who always had a sense of pride of being able to battle in the hard areas of the ice.
    On the statistical front, Carpenter-Boesch had a strong season appearing in all 28 of the Cougars U Sports regular season games netting five goals and six assists.
    The Gray, Sask., product was a standout for three seasons with the Regina Rebels of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League from 2013 to 2016 collecting 40 goals and 32 assist in 82 regular season games.
Lilla Carpenter-Boesch (#17) in action for the Cougars.
    She had career highs with 15 goals and 15 assists in her final campaign with the Rebels in 27 regular season games.
    Carpenter-Boesch can go all out to look good for events too that don’t have a rough and tumble aspect to them.
    On April 27 in her hometown, she looked classy-professional good during a visit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
    Between her hockey mug shot and being able to hang out with the prime minister, Carperter-Boesch gets to be a few extra steps ahead of everyone else when it comes to looking and being cool.

Let’s hold off on falling sky for “green and white”

Roughriders HC and GM Chris Jones addresses the team after a practice.
    A large number of fans on Rider Nation are definitely being fanatical.
    On Friday night, a lot of Saskatchewan Roughriders supporters were speaking doom and gloom on social media after the team dropped its final pre-season game 42-10 to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver. The doom and gloom voices were at it again on social media, when the Roughriders made their final cuts on Saturday. Among the cuts was veteran running back Anthony Allen, who voiced his displeasure on Twitter.
    The reaction was opposite to when the Roughriders played the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a pre-season 25-25 tie on June 16 at the first CFL game ever held at new Mosaic Stadium in Regina. After that result, it seemed like a number of Roughriders fans were envisioning a playoff berth and maybe even a Grey Cup win at the end of the season.
    Such is the life surrounding the Roughriders, who are the most followed and scrutinized team in the CFL. It seems emotions peak and valley with the club even in the best seasons.
    I would suggesting holding off until after Week 6 of the regular season before passing any judgements or evaluations. As for the loss to the Lions, legendary B.C. head coach and general manager Wally Buono returned a lot of key players and is for sure guiding a team that will contend for a Grey Cup title.
    One thing that is certain is the honeymoon a number of Roughriders fans have with second-year head coach and general manager Chris Jones seems to be over unless positive results start coming. It feels like the pressure is on to produce a playoff berth.
    On paper, it appears the Roughriders have the talent to make the post-season. Injuries will ultimate be the key factor in determining how a season will ultimately progress. The Roughriders open the regular season on Thursday traveling to Montreal to play the Alouettes.
    Away from the field, anyone that interacted with the Roughriders players at their training camp in Saskatoon had to feel encouraged how well-mannered and polite they were. That usually transitions to a good intangible on the field.
    The sky isn’t falling just yet, so let’s get a better sampling size of this year’s team before calling the campaign a write off.

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