REGINA - After winning a third Grey Cup ring last year, Ricky Foley seriously contemplated retirement. Instead, the 32-year-old Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive end returned to the field in 2014 and had one of the best seasons of his career.This time, he knew right away he wanted to come back.On Thursday, the Riders signed Foley to a contract extension. With last weeks re-signing of Tearrius George and John Chick being under contract, Saskatchewan has solidified its defensive line heading into the 2015 campaign.The Riders posted a CFL-high 61 sacks this past season.Foley said he knew about 15 minutes after Saskatchewan fell 18-10 to Edmonton in the West Division semifinal that he wanted to return rather than retire or become a free agent Feb. 10.I think collectively as soon as the season was done and we realized we were going home ... the somberness turned to almost anger, like Man, we could have won, we should have won, this sucks. OK were coming back next year, Foley said during a news conference. I know me and T-George, we had a moment where we knew we would be better next year, and we were going to come back and do this.Foley, Chick and George are veteran players in their early 30s but each is still playing at a high level. Chick had a CFL-best 15 sacks, three more than George.Foley, a six-foot-three 245-pound native of Courtice, Ont., matched a career high last season with 12 sacks while adding 54 defensive tackles. He was named the Riders most outstanding Canadian for the 2014 campaign but believes he can do better.The film doesnt lie, he said. We missed a lot of sacks this year, we missed a lot of plays.We still finished with good numbers, but were still excited by what were capable of.Saskatchewan GM Brendan Taman said Foleys extension has been in the works for some time but the team needed to clear some logistical hurdles before making it official.Hes a good Canadian and you want those guys around, Taman said. He really had a good year for us, and weve pretty much solidified our D-line now.Taman said there is still work to do on the defence. Saskatchewan needs a new defensive co-ordinator to replace Richie Hall and faces the task of re-signing hard-hitting safety Tyron Brackenridge.Foley captured his first Grey Cup title in 06 with B.C. before winning in 12 with Toronto.He said while the Roughriders might have trouble getting free agents due to perceptions of the climate, its tough for a player to leave Saskatchewan after suiting up there.The fan support here on game day is amazing, he said. 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Smiling ear-to-ear, the 19-year-old Caboclo searched for the words to describe a night that no one saw coming. Concluding a franchise-longest seven-game home stand, with LeBron James and the Cavaliers on deck the following evening, the Raptors were understandably wary of the upstart Milwaukee Bucks, who came in with a 7-5 record having won three in row. The result: their second-most lopsided victory in team history. I thought the mental focus was great, Dwane Casey said following his teams impressive 41-point rout of Milwaukee. No one in that locker room was even talking about tomorrow night. The Raptors trailed for seconds early in the game before taking control. Their lead continued to grow and by the end of the third quarter they were up 101-57, igniting chants for Caboclo, the 20th pick in Junes draft who has quickly become a cult favourite in Toronto. On queue, the rookie entered to a rousing ovation. Fans repeated his name in unison. They used it to replace defence when the Bucks had the ball. Lets go Raptors became Lets go Bruno. Shortly after his first shot rimmed out, Caboclo caught an alley-oop pass from Williams for his first NBA bucket. The building was shaking. [There were] butterflies in my stomach, the Brazilian forward admitted after the game. Everybodys saying my name. Its incredible. The biggest and most promising takeaway from his 12 minutes of action, like his performance in the pre-season and Summer League: he showed no fear. He was confident in his jump shoot - hitting a pair of three-balls, one from the corner and a step-back jumper over Ersan Ilyasova - and he showed off his wingspan on defence, swatting Nate Wolters shot from behind. I thought it was special, Casey said. The kids a beautiful kid. Like any other kid hes learning and growing in the NBA. As a coach, I see him growing everyday and know what he needs to work on, but it was great to get an opportunity to get him in the game. Led by starters Kyle Lowry (20 points, nine rebounds on the night) and Jonas Valanciunas (18 points, 12 rebounds), the Raptors dropped 37 first-quarter points on Milwaukee, the NBAs fourth ranked defensive team entering the game. But it was Torontos bench that really put the game out of reach. Chuck Hayes pushed around the Bucks bigs, Greivis Vasquez had 11 points in his best outing of the season and Williams led all scorers with 22, beating the buzzer with three-pointers at the end of both the first and second quarters. Shooting 52 per cent from the field, 15-for-25 from long range and out-rebounding Milwaukee by 27, the Raptors more than overcame a 1-for-8 shooting performance from DeRozan, their leading scorer. One of Caboclos treys, midway through the fourth quarter, gave Toronto a 52-point advantage, the largest lead in franchise history.dddddddddddd Guys came out with a professional approach, Casey said. We thought it was going to be a tough battle. We knew that they had been playing well so our guys were focused and came in with a business-like approach, which we needed and wanted. The Raptors finished their 6-1 home stand the way they started it. Two weeks ago they put together one of their most complete efforts of the season - a 19-point wire-to-wire victory over the Wizards. Since that night, they crushed whats looking like a historically terrible 76ers team, dropped a tough game to the Bulls after a flat third quarter and needed late-game rallies to steal wins over Orlando, Utah and Memphis. In the end, they outscored opponents by a total of 111 points (15.9 per contest) over that stretch. Its very difficult to do, to play at home this many games in a row, Casey said. Psychologically, its tough to go through the grind, the monotony of every other day or whatever the schedule was. I think our guys mentally fought through that and thats something thats a credit to them. Thats what weve been preaching, is to fight through things mentally, be focused, dont let outside distractions get you outside what you want to do. So Ive been relatively pleased. I really like the focus of our team right now. Weve got to maintain it, be consistent with it. Thats the main thing right now. You just stay focused, man, Hayes said. You understand that its a marathon, you understand that were playing for something bigger than a seven-game home stand. Youve got to win these games at home, youve got to protect home. Due to the fact that weve been lucky enough to have a seven-game home stand in November, December were out there on that road and were going to need each other. Thats when the real test begins. How will they fair when adversity hits? Will the chemistry theyve raved about hold up? We really havent hit the dog days of the season yet, December and January is where it hits you, Hayes said. But we have a great group of veterans, a great group of guys, who know how to be professionals. If we slip up we hold each other accountable and thats very important in this locker room. They will see four playoff caliber opponents over their next four games, two of them on the road, beginning with the James and the new-look Cavaliers in Cleveland on the second night of a back-to-back Saturday. Its been nearly five years since the Raptors have defeated James, going back to his first stint in Ohio. Since then, hes had their number - mostly as a member of the Heat - winning 16 straight meetings with Toronto. Hes one more victory away from tying Steve Nash for most consecutive wins (by a player) over the Raps. Overall, theyre 32-7 against the King, with their last road win coming in 2004, his rookie year. While the Cavaliers have struggled to find themselves on the defensive end with a newly formed big three, Washington has been undermanned in the absence of injured, and recently mended guard Bradley Beal, and the rest of the East has looked predictably average, the Raptors have taken advantage of their continuity and a forgiving early-season schedule. [Its] very significant, said Hayes. Because it gives you that margin of error when you do hit those dog days in December and January. ' ' '
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Dec 06, 2019