Esks control own destiny

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Richie Hall talks to new Eskimos receiver Derick Armstrong during...

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Richie Hall talks to new Eskimos receiver Derick Armstrong during practice Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium. Armstrong will be in the lineup Saturday against the B.C. Lions at Empire Stadium in Vancouver. (Tom Braid/QMI Agency)

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

EDMONTON - VANCOUVER — At 4-10, the Edmonton Eskimos have already used up their nine lives.

But that’s not stopping them from clawing and scratching for a post-season berth, beginning with a win over the B.C. Lions at Empire Field Saturday.

“A cat has nine lives and, for whatever reason, it seems like we might have had more than nine lives,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “But this is it. This is our make-it-or-break-it.”

Saturday is the rubber match after the teams split their two previous meetings of the season. But the Eskimos feel as though they lost more than the Lions won.

“We were our own worst enemy,” Hall said. “It wasn’t like we haven’t done things against them. We just turned the football over, dropped passes, so we just need to be sound fundamentally and execute and I think we’ll be OK.

“It’s a very similar scenario last year going into the last game of the season against B.C. We were playing for third place. The loser still wasn’t guaranteed that they were going to be in a playoff spot.”

Back then, Eskimos came away from B.C. Place with a demonstrative 45-13 victory to finish 9-9, one win ahead of the Lions, who ended up crossing over to the East Division.

“We went out there, we played well, we did what we had to do. This is no different,” Hall said. “We go out there, we take care of business, do what we have to do and we control our own destiny from here on out.”

Ditto for the Lions.

“The thing that we’ve lost sight of for a little bit is for the last third of the season, this club has played some very good football,” said head coach and GM Wally Buono. “Last week, except for a debacle in the fourth quarter, we had that game pretty much under control and really should have come away with a victory.”

Instead, they let the Winnipeg Blue Bombers battle back from a 21-point deficit to win 47-35 in overtime.

“The opportunity is that with the Winnipeg win, it gave us a whole new life and a lot of excitement in our locker-room,” said Hall.

“What’s going on over there, that’s their own issues regarding the meltdown, the release of their quarterback. We have our challenges going into this game and we want to focus on ourselves.”

The Eskimos aren’t exactly coming into Saturday’s game guns a-blazing, either, after watching their only winning streak of the season stall at just two games following a 36-11 loss in Hamilton.

“We’re coming off a loss just like they are. In some ways, it’s an emotional letdown for us because the previous weeks we had played pretty good and found ways to win football games. And we just kind of took a step back,” Hall said. “Our situation is how can we get ourselves ready to play at a high level because this is the game of the year for us.”

And for the Lions, who don’t want to lose any momentum they’ve been building to last week’s hiccup.

“I don’t want to lose sight of that, I don’t want the players to lose sight of that,” Buono said. “We are still in position that we control our own destiny.”

There is that word again ...

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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