It's a 'heavyweight' tilt

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Ron Lancaster always used to bristle when you asked him about a "big game" in August.

"It's not a big game," he say, "unless your season is over if you lose. Anything else is just two points."

The 5-1 Edmonton Eskimos and 5-0 B.C. Lions understand where he's coming from. None of them are billing this Week 7 showdown as any kind of Western Final preview or Grey Cup indicator, but just another game? Hardly.

"I wouldn't call it a Western Final preview, but two Western heavyweights are going to fight it out," said Edmonton linebacker Singor Mobley. "Two great quarterbacks on one field, there's going to be a lot of fireworks."

The Lions are 11-0 at home since Week 4 of last season, when the Eskimos came in here and won.

"We're not making too much of the sixth game of the season, but there's a handful of games as a coach and players that you get really excited about," said B.C. coach and GM Wally Buono, adding you can tell a lot about a player and a team by how they perform on a stage like this one.

"You have to learn to win the games you have to win. In the playoffs there's no repeats and no mulligans. Games like this are great dress rehearsals for the playoffs. Everybody expects a great game, everybody expects you to win, you're playing at home against a great football team - that's how the playoffs are. These are dress rehearsals for that kind of atmosphere."

WHO CARES? Buono says he's like the average fan when it comes to rank-and-file lineup changes in the CFL - he doesn't care.

"I'm not too hung up on personnel changes," he said, when asked about his thoughts on Edmonton moving running back Elvis Joseph in for Ronald McClendon. "When they change the quarterback, I take notice, but when they change a running back, so what?

"A running back is a running back. If there's a hole there he'll go through it. He's only as good as the guys up front. If there aren't any holes, or they don't run the ball..."

SACK HAPPY: The Eskimos lead the league in sacks, the Lions have given up the second most sacks in the league. So it could be a long night for Dave Dickenson, the league's most effective passer.

"It's hard to complete passes when you're on your backside," said Eskimos defensive end Joe Montford. "We want to make sure we can get after him, not necessarily with sacks, but at least a lot of pressures, get into his face. It's more difficult to get the ball off if you're constantly feeling pressure. That, and not taking a lot of penalties, are the things we've been stressing this week."

The Eskimos know that one extra second per play could mean the difference between two and out and giving up a major.

"He's so good at reading defences and coverages that you can't give him any extra time," said linebacker AJ Gass.

"The big thing is not to let him get comfortable, you have to get a guy in his face."


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