Riders' kicker Lauther hoping to walk out of Raymond Field with a victory

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HALIFAX — Brett Lauther has some unfinished business to take care of Saturday afternoon.

The veteran kicker will return to Raymond Field in Wolfville, N.S., when the Saskatchewan Roughriders face the Toronto Argonauts in the 2022 Touchdown Atlantic contest.

Lauther, a native of Truro, N.S., played his final collegiate game there, his tenure with the Saint Mary's Huskies ending with a 17-9 loss to the Acadia Axemen in the '12 Loney Bowl (Atlantic University Sport's football conference championship).

"We lost the AUS final there my last year," Lauther said following Saskatchewan's practice Thursday at his alma mater. "A different time now but each and every week, especially with the Riders, we're just trying to put our best foot forward and get a win.

"I don't like to look back on things but I know some day I'll look back and maybe be pretty proud. But right now I'm just trying to keep the blinders on and be one-for-one on each and every kick. As soon as this game is done it's on to the next week."

Lauther, 31, won't head into Saturday's contest — which will be played before sellout gathering of 10,000 spectators — with an axe to grind.

"It's about the team winning games at this point," he said. "We (Riders) have bigger goals down the road at the end of this and I think everyone knows what that means."

That reference was to the '22 Grey Cup game, which will be played in November in Regina. The last time the city hosted the CFL championship was 2013 when the hometown Riders defeated Hamilton 45-23.

But playing in a Touchdown Atlantic contest does have special meaning for Lauther. He made his CFL debut with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2013 contest, making all four field goals he attempted in a 28-26 win over the Montreal Alouettes in Moncton, N.B.

"It means everything," Lauther said. "I got to play my first-ever professional game in a TD Atlantic in Moncton

"I'm just happy. Happy to be home, excited for everyone to get a chance to see a CFL game live out here, especially a regular-season one. What can I say? I can't keep the smile off my face."

There'll be no shortage of support Saturday for Lauther. The veteran kicker said he'll have about 190 friends and family in the stands, thanks to the efforts of both the CFL and some of his Riders' teammates.

And as a native Nova Scotian, Lauther has also served as a tour guide for his teammates.

"We got in late (Wednesday night) but I took some guys around the waterfront and briefly around the hotel," he said. "It's been non-stop just telling guys where to go but it's a business trip first.

"Hopefully guys get to do a little bit of sightseeing and stuff like that but at the end of the day we're here to win a football game."

The Maritimes have long been mentioned as a potential CFL expansion site, with Halifax even receiving a conditional franchise in the 1980s. Four years ago, the Atlantic Schooners moniker was announced as the name for a new franchise but that was before the onset of the global pandemic.

There's no doubt in Lauther's mind, though, whether a CFL franchise would succeed in the Maritimes.

"I think it would be huge . . . a coast-to-coast league, 10 teams, it's almost needed," he said. "The fact I'm going to have buddies down here wearing jerseys and shirts and kind of cheering (along with) my family and everyone who has supported me to get me here today, they're the reason why I'm still playing.

"You have to remember what you're here for sometimes and just being out here is a good reminder. "

Lauther believes the presence of a pro football team in Atlantic Canada would grow the game in the region.

"I feel like that's why hockey is so dominant out there with the (Halifax) Mooseheads and now there's lacrosse teams and a soccer team coming out here and kids have something to strive for," Lauther said. "If you have a football field that kids get to go to and play their championship or bigger games or . . . it gives them something to strive for and keeps the dream alive."

Toronto Argonauts linebacker Henoc Muamba also believes in Atlantic Canada having a CFL franchise. Muamba played collegiately at St. Francis Xavier (2007-2010) before being selected first overall in the 2011 CFL draft by Winnipeg.

“Having played here, I know what it’s like, I know the people out here and how much they love the game," he said. "They feel like they’re missing out a little bit on some CFL.

"It’s going to be exciting once it’s going to be official."

Muamba played in the '19 Touchdown Atlantic with Montreal, which beat Toronto 28-22 in Moncton. He had six tackles in the contest.

“It means a lot to the community here, it means a lot to the league, it means a lot to the country, to be honest with you,” Muamba said. “It shows the hunger, the thirst that exists in Eastern Canada.

"Not only does that show the love of the game out here in Eastern Canada, but also it shows that they’re ready and excited for a team."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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