Classic not so much for Eskimos

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:13 AM ET

EDMONTON - The game may be called a classic, but in the last few years it's been anything but.

With the Edmonton Eskimos having struggled for the past three seasons, there hasn't been much on the line for at Labour Day Classic against the Calgary Stampeders.

This year things are different as first place in the West Division is at stake in the opening game of a home-and-home series.

"It's been a while since we've been playing for first place on Labour Day," said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray. "It's definitely nice to go down there and play in a meaningful game with both teams looking to make their run for the playoffs.

"This is usually when it starts, is Labour Day, when teams start jockeying for their playoff positions."

Traditionally, Labour Day has not been kind to the Eskimos. They've dropped three of the last four games. Last season, they were humiliated 52-5 at McMahon Stadium.

"We haven't played well in the Labour Day game," said Ray. "They've had a good team in the last few years and they're a good team again this year.

"If you don't go down there and play well, they can really take it to you. We definitely have to make sure we're focused in this week, go down and execute and play aggressive. That's the thing that we did well early in the season against them, play aggressive and make plays, so we have to take that same mindset."

The Eskimos have brought back defensive back C.J. Bailey.

The product of Southern Mississippi was cut in training camp this year after playing in the team's opening pre-season game.

Bailey, 23, practised with the Eskimos on Thursday, but it's unlikely he'll play in Monday's Labour Day Classic against the Calgary Stampeders.

In four years at Southern Miss., Bailey played in 48 games, registering 158 tackles.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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