“It’s a huge deal,” said Esks head coach Jason Maas in an interview with Esks.com. “On a Western opponent, four weeks into the season, to have the season series on them is big.”
Edmonton is searching for its second victory of the season over BC Thursday night at BC Place. A win would ensure a season series win for the Green and Gold over the Lions, with one more game to play in the year. They next play each other in October.
“We just got to execute our game plan,” Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris said. “Make sure we’re on top of our keys to victory and doing the important things like winning the turnover battle and cutting (down) on penalties.”
The two teams last squared off June 21, with Edmonton winning 39-23. Harris threw three touchdowns for 294 yards in the victory, while Lions quarterback Mike Reilly threw a touchdown and an interception for 147 yards.
It was a forgettable outing for Reilly, whose former team welcomed him back to Commonwealth with a seven-sack performance, including two each from Nick Usher and Mike Moore.
But after an 0-3 start to the season, the Lions are coming off their first victory of the season, and the first for new head coach DeVone Claybrooks, against the Toronto Argonauts last Saturday. The bench boss expects his team to be ready despite the short week.
“We have a good veteran group of guys that understand the things they need to do on a short week,” Claybrooks said. “The buy-in has been there and they’ve got to execute the game plan.”
Lions receiver Bryan Burnham, who is expected to be back in the lineup after a one week absence, hopes his team will clean up the errors they made the last time out against their fellow divisional opponent.
“We had a lot of mistakes out there last time we were against Edmonton and we have got to cut those out,” Burnham said. “We’ve got to protect Mike and receivers have to make plays and get the ball in John White’s hands.”
White, the former Edmonton running back, wasn’t as effective as he would’ve liked in their previous matchup, getting eight carries on 24 yards rushing. Since then, however, the Lions have re-committed to the run, totaling 262 yards over the last two games.
Edmonton, meanwhile, is coming off a bye week. Their last game was a 28-21 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 14 days ago. It was their first loss of the season, though the numbers slanted heavily in their favour. Against the CFL’s only undefeated team, the Eskimos ran a season-high 77 plays with more than 36 minutes of possession, yet failed to score an offensive touchdowns.
They’ll have added reinforcements in receiver Davaris Daniels this week. He has yet to play a game this season for his new team after spending the last three seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. Maas has high expectations for the 26-year old.
“He’s looked good all week (in practice),” Maas said. “He’s looked good for the last three weeks. Ultimately, if he gets in the game we expect him to do good things.”
“Seeing some of the success we’ve been having on offence, I’m just excited to get back in there and do my part.” Daniels said.
The change at receiver means juggling the ratio for the Eskimos. Natey Adjei is out at receiver, leaving Tevaun Smith as the lone Canadian pass-catcher in the starting lineup. Canadian offensive lineman Jacob Ruby will also start Thursday, along with defensive lineman Alex Bazzie and linebacker Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga on defence.
The Lions made an addition to their special teams this week, signing punter Josh Bartel to a contract this week. The Australian native spent the last four seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Bartel has also played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Aussie was contacted days ago by the Lions, and the next thing he knew, he was a Lion.
“Before I got off the phone the flight’s already booked for me to come here,” Bartel said. “It happened very quick but very excited to be here.”
Defensive lineman Ebenezer Ogundeko will also play for the Lions Thursday night. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native has played one career CFL game, back in 2018.
BY THE NUMBERS
14 — Edmonton was down by 14 against BC the last time they played. They obviously erased that deficit to earn a victory against the Lions. 14 is also the amount of days since their last game, a 28-21 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in late June.
100 — Lions quarterback Mike Reilly now has 100 career starts in the Canadian Football League. Since his CFL playing career began in 2011, Reilly has thrown for 28,724 yards to go with 153 touchdowns and 88 interceptions.
7 — Since 2012, Edmonton is 7-4 when they’re playing after a bye week.
3 — Through four games, the BC Lions defence has only allowed three points in the first quarter. They’ll face an Edmonton team that has only five first quarter points all season
– With files from Esks.com/BCLions.com
AFI, Yare Media and the CFL
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