Eskimos in driver's seat

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:49 PM ET

The regular season has been one big detour for the Edmonton Eskimos, but they find themselves in the driver’s seat in the playoff stretch.

A 39-24 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders Saturday keeps the Green and Gold in the third-and-final playoff spot in the West Division, at the same time securing first place for the Calgary Stampeders.

Currently tied with the B.C. Lions at 6-10, the Eskimos only have to continue matching the Lions to reach the post-season after earning the season series tiebreaker.

But B.C.’s 36-31 victory over the Stampeders Friday night was the farthest thing from Edmonton’s mind going into the game.

“We control our own destiny, we’re not worrying about what anybody else does,” said Eskimos linebacker T.J. Hill. “With that being said, B.C. did win (Friday) night, but as long as we take care of our business, they’re in our rearview window right now.”

And with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers out of any possible crossover destination, the map becomes clearer but the way to get there doesn’t change.

“It wasn’t so much what B.C. did, teams are chasing us,” said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. “As long as we go out there and control and do the things we’re supposed to do, if we win out, then it doesn’t matter what the other teams are doing.

“So our focus is looking straight ahead, not looking behind.”

If they can keep pace with the Lions, the Eskimos would earn themselves a semifinal date in Regina against the second-place Roughriders, making it three meetings against the same opponent in four weeks.

Just as Calgary has had trouble with B.C., Saskatchewan has run into a wall against the Eskimos recently, proving there is more parity in the West than the standings indicate.

Having won four out of their last five, the Eskimos showed Saturday they can do it with Ricky Ray or without him.

Jared Zabransky filled in for the injured quarterback, who was scheduled to undergo an MRI Sunday while the rest of the team had the day off.

“This is a big-time team win for us,” Zabransky said of his first CFL victory as a starter. “If it would have went the other way, you could really probably start to feel things slide for us.

“But if we continue to do what we’ve been doing, preparing like we have, then we’re in a good position now. We’re in the driver’s seat and we can control our own destiny rather than having to have a team lose for us to slide in.”

Zabransky said the Eskimos offence still has plenty left in the tank with the playoffs approaching.

“Our offensive line is really starting to jell together,” Zabransky said. “You can’t say enough about the way that they’ve performed the last five games.

“If they continue to build on that, we’re leaving the predictability stage and we’re starting to be able to do things on the run and do things that defences can’t really predict or match up to what we’re going to do.”

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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