by Mike BeamishSpecial to the Langley Advance
Huddled Sunday at coach Jeff Tedford’s residence in Langley, many of the Lions watched the Edmonton Eskimos confirm a 19th consecutive playoff berth for B.C. with a 40-22 win over the Montreal Alouettes at Commonwealth Stadium.
Now, a pair of Langley Advance readers have a chance to win tickets to this Saturday’s game, where the BC Lions take on the Calgary Stampeders (see the end of the story for details).
Yesterday’s Edmonton victory dropped the Alouettes to 6-11 and eliminated any possibility of Montreal crossing over to the West Division playoffs at the expense of the 7-10 Lions.
Edmonton’s victory, the eighth straight for the Eskimos, also had implications for the 13-4 Stampeders. Calgary is fated to finish second in the West, even if the Stamps defeat the Lions this weekend, having lost the season series to the Eskimos.
So, what’s at stake – despite claims by coaches that no football game should ever be considered inconsequential – is really very little.
The B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders will play out the Canadian Football League regular season Saturday night at BC Place, using game No. 18 as a warm-up for the West Division semifinal between the same two teams eight days later at McMahon Stadium.
Meanwhile, Edmonton – which has a scheduled bye in the final week of the regular season –won’t play again for 20 days.
The 14-4 Eskimos will play host to the winner of the Lions-Stampeders semifinal Nov. 22 in Edmonton. With one more game before the playoffs, wear and tear has to be of some concern to Tedford as he puts his lineup together for Saturday’s game.
Overuse, however, is definitely not in the thinking of running back Andrew Harris.
Aiming to make some personal history, Harris wants all the carries he can handle in pursuit of his first CFL rushing title.
The Lions’ feature back had a 161-yard lead over Jerome Messam going into Week 19, but he was held to just 10 yards on 11 carries in Friday’s 27-25 win over the Toronto Argonauts. Messam, traded to the Stampeders on Oct. 14 by Saskatchewan, rushed for 121 yards against his former team on Saturday as the Stamps crushed the Roughriders 42-19.
Thus, Harris’ lead over Messam has been reduced to 50 yards (997-947) going into the final game.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t important,” Harris admitted. “I’m in my contract year. It’s definitely important for me. It’s also something (winning the rushing title) I haven’t accomplished yet. Obviously, for us, running the football helps us win games. There are a lot of factors that go into my reasoning.”
Joe Smith, who ran for a club record 1,510 yards in 2007, and Jim Evenson are the only Lions to have won previous rushing titles in the CFL.
Evenson ran for 1,237 yards in 1971. Messam won the league rushing title (1,057 yards) as a member of the Eskimos in 2011. From 2012 to 2014, it was the Stampeders’ Jon Cornish who dominated the tables.
And so, for a fifth straight season, the CFL rushing crown could go to a Canadian back.
The only question is, who will it be?
_Mike Beamish and Gerry Kahrmann are with the Vancouver Sun
RULES. The deadline for entries is Thursday, Nov. 5, at 2 p.m. Please include your name, phone number, and address, and the answer to our questions. All correct entries will be entered into a draw, and the winner will be notified. There is one pair of tickets up for grabs for Saturday, Nov. 7th game, starting at 4 p.m. at BC Place.
NOTE: I’d like to say that was a trick question, but it was just an oops on my part. Thanks for catching that, I had the wrong Alberta team playing Montreal on Sunday. I have corrected it now, and for all those who have already entered with the scores from both games, don’t worry – you’re names are definitely still in the running. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.