Prefontaine could miss Lions tilt

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

SASKATOON -- Family comes first for Noel Prefontaine.

For that reason, the Edmonton Eskimos stellar punter and kicker might miss Friday's game in Vancouver if his wife Tanya gives birth to their first child late this week in Toronto.

Tanya is due on Wednesday.

The Eskimos play Friday night (8:30 p.m. MT, TSN, CHED) in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions.

In a perfect world for Prefontaine and the football club, the baby arrives at a time that doesn't conflict with Friday's game on the West Coast.

But if there is a conflict, Prefontaine is going to be at his wife's side in Toronto to see Noah enter the world.

'MORE IMPORTANT'

"I have an obligation to the Edmonton Eskimos. But even though it's an important game (on Friday), the birth of my child is more important," said Prefontaine.

If a conflict becomes a reality, raw rookie Derek Schiavone would be forced into his first-ever CFL regular-season game on Friday for the Eskimos as Prefontaine's replacement.

But before there is any serious concern in Eskimoland, Prefontaine's wife isn't feeling like she's set to give birth to Noah.

"She doesn't feel like she is ready to go," said Prefontaine.

If Noah is late arriving, doctors will induce Tanya - which might bring the baby into the world after Friday's game.

Although Friday's game could clinch a playoff spot for the Green and Gold, Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia is supportive of Prefontaine's family-first attitude.

"We'll see if we can make it all happen," said Maciocia, referring to his kicker and punter making it to the hospital and the game.

"But I support whatever is right for him."

NEWCOMER

Prefontaine has arguably been the Esks most important addition this year.

Replacing retired Sean Fleming, he is 32-for-42 on field goals (76% success rate) and has a punting average of 47.2 yards.

Schiavone hasn't faced live bullets since the final preseason game.

The Western Ontario product had a 50-yard punting average and was three-for-four in field goals in two exhibition games this spring for the Eskimos.

"I'm always ready in case," said Schiavone, who has practised with the Eskimos throughout the entire year but has been on the practice roster.

"It's going to be a last-minute thing (this week)."

If Schiavone is pressed into duty, he will use Jason Maas as his holder - not Stefan LeFors, who holds for Prefontaine.

"His strength is punting," said Prefontaine on his understudy.

"But he's not a bad field-goal kicker."

Schiavone endured his most difficult season as a field-goal kicker last year in the CIS, connecting successfully at a rate just below 70%.


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