Game Preview | Lions vs. Roughriders

Nathan Cherry was waiting for this moment. And wouldn’t you know it? He comes against a team wearing familiar colors. The Lions’ top draft pick of 2022 will make his preseason debut against the team he grew up cheering on. As he prepares to make an impression among a solid group of defensive linemen, Cherry is also now quite comfortable with the color orange.

“Being the Riders makes it a little bit more special,” the former Saskatchewan Huskies player said.

“There are going to be a lot of people in my family who won’t know who to lean on (laughs). It’s going to be great.

Cherry also admits that her phone notifications have involved somewhat friendlier chats this week.

“A little. Some people will be in orange, some will still be in green. It’s going to be fun.”

On the court, Cherry brings size and the ability to shoot gaps. The first U Sports All Canadian and Canada West All-Star selection in 2021, Cherry has taken inspiration from some of the veterans in training camp and will look to them as a role model for success on Friday.

“There are a lot of good players here,” Cherry said of the group in Kamloops.

“It’s not like college where only certain people stand out. Everyone is fine here. It’s definitely an adjustment. You have to get used to the speed the first few days but once you get the hang of it, everything is fine.

While the Riders are expected to throw a few veterans up front in Dan Clark and Evan Johnson, Cherry will relish the chance to hit someone in his old primary colors.

“It’s a childhood dream come true here. I always imagined being out there in front of thousands of fans. It’s going to be great.”

Pre-season B | Lions vs. Roughriders

Friday, June 3

7:00 p.m. BC Place

TSN 1/ESPN+/AM730/Lions Audio Network

Lion veterans to see the action

Quarterback Nathan Rourke and the rest of the starting offense will likely see the field for at least part of the first half as the challenge now becomes a balance between veterans facing no rust while having the ability to assess newcomers who might be on the bubble.

“That’s another big part of this game is getting those guys involved and making sure we don’t miss anything,” head coach Rick Campbell said.

“There are going to be a handful of guys who can help us this year who are new to us and we have to make sure we don’t miss those guys. We want to play good football and also get a good look at the guys we have to pick for Saturday.

One of the starters who will be wearing the full uniform is 2021 CFL All-Star Lucky Whitehead. Many fans and watchers are eager to see what he has in store for an encore after his first season in orange was cut short in recent weeks due to a broken hand. The playmaker is ready to pick up where he left off.

“I’m glad I came out of camp healthy, especially,” Whitehead said.

“I feel good. I’m ready to start playing for real, to be honest. This full season is going to be fun. But I’m super motivated to go out there this week, fly and get back into that rhythm.

The Lions and Riders will play three times in the regular season. It doesn’t hurt to set the tone early. Especially with Cody Fajardo and several Saskatchewan Roughriders regulars who should be in uniform.

5 lions to watch

WR Jamarius Road, #80– He provided a highlight for the Lions’ only major tournament in Calgary last week. What does he have in store for us as a reminder?

WR Montay Crockett, #72– Another playmaker at receiver, Crockett’s returning ability makes him a versatile option in 2022.

DB Tyneil Cooper, #24- His previous experience in Winnipeg gave him a head start among other newcomers to Kamloops. Cooper provides good coverage skills.

DL Sione Teuhema, #47– Pushed veteran Obum Gwacham to that end position. A bit of depth on the edge would be greatly beneficial this season.

RB Darius Clark, #32- He and Bruce Anderson have formed a nice line with starter James Butler. The pressure will be on to establish a racing game when competitions begin to matter in the rankings.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com

Charles P. Patton