The Eskimos enter Week 15 of the CFL season in a playoff spot via the Eastern Crossover sitting two points ahead of the Toronto Argonauts for third in the Eastern Division. The Eskimos are hanging around in the Western Division and will try to improve their chances of a post-season berth in their own division when they face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Friday night from Investors Group Field.
A win by the Eskimos (6-7) will pull them to within two points of the Bombers and capture the season series which will earn them a key tie-breaker if needed at the end of the season. A loss and the Eskimos chances of catching the Bombers become remote. Quarterback Mike Reilly says he knows what’s at stake.
“It’s a big game there’s no doubt,” Reilly said. “In the last third of the season the games are generally pretty big no matter who you’re playing against but the fact of the matter is that we have a number of games against the team’s that are in front of us.”
The Eskimos snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a 27-23 win over the B.C. Lion last Friday night on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. The Eskimos started slowly trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter. The Eskimos came to life out-scoring the Lions 27-9 the rest of the game. The defense allowed only 98 passing yards to Lions pivot Jonathon Jennings in the second half. Quarterback Mike Reilly went 24 of 31 for 300 yards passing throwing for a touchdown, recording one interception and rushing for his sixth touchdown of the season. It’s the tenth 300 yard passing game of the season for Reilly. Receiver Adarius Bowman caught six passes for 121 yards and scoring his seventh touchdown of the season. Running back Shakir Bell rushed 23 times for 108 yards and scored his second touchdown of the season. Linebacker Deon Lacey and defensive back Brandyn Thompson recorded interceptions. Defensive tackle Almondo Sewell recorded his team leading eighth sack of the season while defensive end Odell Willis recorded his sixth sack of the season.
Running back Shakir Bell was the projected starter for Friday but an injury sustained during practice on Wednesday will force John White into the role of the Eskimos featured back. Bell started the last two games for the Eskimos and has averaged 111 yards rushing in three total starts this season. John White returned to practice this week after missing two games with a shoulder injury. Defensive end Marcus Howard will return after missing the last six games with a knee injury. Defensive end Michael Buchanan moves to the practice roster. Linebacker Blair Smith will play his first game since Labour Day, defensive back Mike Dubiusson has been placed on the one-game injured list. Defensive back Josh Woodman will play his first game since week one, linebacker Casey Chin will come out of the lineup and has been placed on the practice roster.
Quarterback: Mike Reilly
Running back: John White (Fullback: Mike Miller)
Offensive Line: Tony Washington-Simeon Rottier-Justin Sorensen-Matt O’Donnell-D’Anthony Batiste
Receivers: Derel Walker-Adarius Bowman-Brandon Zylstra-Chris Getzlaf-Nate Coehoorn
Defensive Line: Philip Hunt-Eddie Steele-Almondo Sewell-Odell Willis
Linebackers: Deon Lacey-J.C. Sherritt-Kenny Ladler
Defensive Backs: Pat Watkins-Marcell Young-Neil King-Brandyn Thompson-Cords Parks
The Bombers (8-5, third in the Western Division) seven-game winning streak ended last week in Calgary in heart-breaking fashion. After trailing by as much as 30-7 in the second half the Bombers rallied to take a 34-33 lead with 20 seconds left to play. Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell drove the ball to the Bombers 45-yard line in two plays to set up the game winning field goal of 52 yards by Rene Parades to give the Stampeders a 36-34 win. Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols completed only nine of 20 passes for 88 yards in the first half but finished with 287 yards passing throwing for two touchdown passes and one interception. Nichols is 7-1 as the Bombers starting quarterback and is averaging 265 passing yards per game and throwing for 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Andrew Harris won’t suit up for the third straight game with an ankle injury. Tim Flanders will make his third straight start, Flanders has 197 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his two starts. The Bombers are the best team in the CFL in forcing turnovers. They lead the league in turnover ratio (+25), takeaways (44), and interceptions (22).
You can hear Friday’s game between the Eskimos and the Bombers on CISN Country 103.9 FM starting with the pre-game show at 5:30pm. The kick-off from Investors Group Field in Winnipeg is at 6:30pm with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling all of the live action, with analysis from former Eskimos offensive lineman and two-time Grey Cup Champion Blake Dermott.