Rookies on the hot seat

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos are taking a bunch of rookies into the Labour Day Battle of Alberta.

When the Green and Gold line up against the Stampeders on Monday afternoon at McMahon Stadium, they could have as many as 17 players on the roster who have never experienced an Edmonton-Calgary Labour Day tilt.

"I think it is a crazy number," said veteran receiver Trevor Gaylor.

"I just try to tell them to think of the worst possible rivalry you have had.

"Think about the ugliest, dirtiest games that went on. The type of tactics that are used to get cheap penalties.

"You know, when I push you and hopefully you push me - and I fall. Get ready for all the tricks."

In that group of 17 Labour Day rookies, as many as 10 could be starters.

Veteran Edmonton middle linebacker A.J. Gass tries to deliver a very blunt message to the newcomers.

"I tell all the new guys to take their college rivalries and multiply it by 100 because that is what you get come Labour Day," said Gass.

But the rookies aren't too concerned heading to Cowtown this long weekend.

"I believe we have a good group of coaches," said defensive back Jason Flowers.

"All the guys have started to gel together real nicely.

"I think we will be well prepared for the game."

Added rookie running back Tyler Ebell, who will get the start Monday: "It's just another football game. I could care less who it is. We need to win."

The Eskimos and Stampeders enter Labour Day tied for last in the West Division with seven points each.

Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia doesn't seem too concerned over the lack of experience in the annual showdown.

Maciocia can also take comfort in the fact that Omarr Morgan and Ron Warner have experienced the Saskatchewan-Winnipeg Labour Day battle royal with previous teams.

But at the same time, he admits to remembering his first taste of the provincial rivalry on the September holiday afternoon.

"I remember talking to Wally Buono - he was in Calgary at that time - and him saying that (the) Labour Day Classic is different," said Maciocia at the end of practice yesterday.

"So, I said: 'How much different can it be? It's a football game.' But when I went out there, it almost seemed like it was like a Grey Cup game, the type of environment you are in."

On the heels of that statement, Gass is confident that this batch of Eskimos will not regret their first dose of Labour Day.

"I think there are 17 guys that are going to have a good time come Monday," said Gass. "It's great to play in."


Photos