BC Lions close out pre-season with dominant victory over Elks

VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions’ brass weren’t expecting to get a lot of sleep Friday night.

A decisive 29-6 win over the Edmonton Elks in pre-season play had just made some looming cuts to the team’s roster all the more complicated.

“There’s going to be hard decisions. It’s not all cut and dry,” head coach and co-general manager Rick Campbell said after the game.

“And from my experience of doing that, the decision’s hard and it’s not fun to tell someone they don’t have a job, but it’s exciting that you’re choosing between two good things.”

Ahead of the game, the Lions’ coaching staff told players they weren’t concerned about the final score. With nearly a full month of training camp in the books, facing the Elks was their final opportunity to get a last look at their available athletes.

“We just wanted to see good football. I think there are definitely things that are looking good and things to work on,” Campbell said. “And I know there’s going to be tough decisions (on Saturday). It’s going to be a short night and an early morning.”

B.C. fielded the more veteran lineup and dominated the game both on the ground and in the air, amassing 315 passing yards to Edmonton’s 153 and 113 rushing yards compared to 44 for the visitors.

The Elks also struggled with discipline, taking 11 penalties for 107 yards.

“It’s meant to be an evaluation. It’s a pre-season game,” Edmonton head coach and general manager Chris Jones said ahead of Friday’s game.

“We’ve got some very talented guys here and guys that we feel do have some traits that are necessary to be a pro-football player. Now it’s a matter of putting them out there against a good B.C. team.”

B.C. turned to three quarterbacks Friday, including starter Vernon Adams Jr., who connected on 7 of 9 attempts for 116 passing yards and a touchdown.

Adams looked dominant from the start, sailing a 24-yard pass to Canadian slotback Justin McInnis less than three minutes into the game.

B.C. capped the opening drive with a touchdown when William Stanback muscled his way through traffic on the goal line for a two-yard strike.

Friday marked Stanback’s first game action with the Lions after signing as a free agent following a Grey Cup win with the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Adams was swapped out for Jake Dolegala midway through the second quarter and the Central Connecticut State University alum put up 118 passing yards with one TD and two interceptions.

“Getting live reps is always fun,” Dolegala said. “There are a couple of throws I’d like back, but as whole, it was a successful camp and I was proud of the way I played.”

Chase Brice took over for the Lions late in the third quarter and finished with 81 passing yards.

Jarret Doege made good on 8 of 10 passing attempts for the Elks, contributing 66 yards and a touchdown before Edmonton turned to Malik Henry. The rookie QB hit 7 of his 15 attempts for 87 yards.

Edmonton made its way deep into B.C. territory midway through the third quarter, setting up for a first down on the one-yard line, only to see their offence smothered.

“It was a lot of new guys on that goal-line stand. We lined up offside the first time, so we ended up stopping them four times, which is pretty hard to do from the one-yard line,” Campbell said.

The Elks responded minutes later when defensive back picked off Dolegala’s pass and returned it for 18 yards. Kicker Dean Faithful then made a 43-yard field goal to cut the Lions’ lead to 23-9.

Friday’s result gave B.C. a 1-1 split in their pre-season games, while Edmonton fell to 0-2 after dropping a one-point decision to the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week.


The Elks open their regular season on June 8 when they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Lions kick off their campaign with a visit to the Toronto Argonauts on June 9.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2024.

The Canadian Press, known in French as La Presse Canadienne, is a national news agency headquartered in Toronto. It was established in 1917 as a vehicle to permit Canadian newspapers of the day to exchange their news and information.