Playoff spot on the line for Esks, Leos

The CFL post-season doesn’t start for more than a week but the Edmonton Eskimos are already in playoff mode.

Edmonton Eskimos' Arkee Whitlock

EDMONTON — The CFL post-season doesn’t start for more than a week but the Edmonton Eskimos are already in playoff mode.

A West Division semifinal berth will be hanging in the balance when the Eskimos visit the B.C. Lions on Friday night.

Getting it done will be the challenge for the 8-9 Eskimos, who’ve already lost to the 8-9 Lions twice this season and are facing a football team that has yet to miss the playoffs in five previous seasons under coach Wally Buono.

“We have the opportunity right now to control our own destiny,” coach Richie Hall said. “That’s all we want.

“We go in there and it’s a playoff game. We win, we keep going. We lose, we look at it as what could have been, and we look at it from the outside.”

The Eskimos gave themselves a chance to make their season finale count with a 36-10 win over Toronto last Friday. If they win, they’ll finish third in the West and secure a playoff berth.

Should the Lions and Eskimos tie, B.C. would take third by having won the season series but Edmonton would clinch the crossover spot and become the East Division’s No. 3 seed.

If the Esks lose, they could still earn the crossover playoff spot, as they did last season, but they’d need a Hamilton win over Winnipeg on Sunday to do it.

“Our playoffs are just starting a week early,” quarterback Ricky Ray said.

“It would be worse to be in a position where if you do go in and win, you still might not have an opportunity to make it.

“At least if we go in and we win, we keep playing. If not, there’s a good chance that we go home.”

The last time the teams met, Oct. 9 at Commonwealth Stadium, the Lions shocked the Eskimos 34-31 on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Buck Pierce to Geroy Simon with 12 seconds left on the clock.

In the first meeting of the season on July 16, the Lions romped 40-22 as Jarious Jackson came on early in relief of Pierce and strafed Edmonton’s defence for 362 yards through the air.

Casey Printers gets the start for the Lions in this one.

The one constant, no matter who has lined up at quarterback for the Lions, has been Simon.

He had his way with Hall’s defence with four touchdowns and 13 catches for 292 yards in the previous two games.

“He’s a phenomenal receiver, you can’t take anything away from him,” said defensive back Kelly Malveaux.

“Geroy has been an all-star in this league for many years.”

The Eskimos obviously have to do a better job against Simon to give themselves a chance, but that’s a tall order for a defence that has given up 5,016 yards through the air and ranks last in the CFL against the pass.

“Limiting his catches and limiting the big plays is going to be a key for us,” said Jason Goss.

“With Casey (Printers), that’s his primary receiver. They go back a ways and they know each other very well. Casey’s going to look for Geroy. We know that and we have to disrupt them.”

Already beaten with Jackson and Pierce at the helm, the Esks face Printers in his third straight start.

Printers passed for 337 yards in a 28-26 loss to Calgary on Saturday.

“You make him a drop-back passer and keep him in the pocket,” Hall said of how the Esks will try to contain Printers.

“Minimize his athletic ability and make him be a quarterback and sit back there and read. When you look at the plays he’s made, other than a couple of bust coverages, he’s made plays with his athleticism.”

Against Toronto, Ray passed for 332 yards with an offence that featured an aerial attack with more emphasis on throwing the ball deep as the Esks built a 17-0 lead and never looked back.

“Being a quarterback or a kicker, I think you love playing indoors because you don’t have to deal with any wind or rain or snow,” said Ray, who operated on a water-logged, muddy field against Toronto.

“We love playing at home, playing on our surface that we’re used to, but when you get the chance to play in the dome, quarterbacks love that.”

Just Posted

Smoke and pets do not mix

Pet owners are encouraged to break out the chew toys dogs and… Continue reading

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

Red Deer RCMP look for fraud suspect

Red Deer RCMP are looking for public assistance to identify a fraud… Continue reading

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month