Can Esks deliver a win?

Calgary receiver Nik Lewis snags a ball last weekend at McMahon Stadium. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency).

Calgary receiver Nik Lewis snags a ball last weekend at McMahon Stadium. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency).

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:20 PM ET

CALGARY — With Edmonton’s trash-talk billboard taken down due to a spray-painted obscenity, Calgary’s trash-talking Nik Lewis stepped into the breach Sunday.

 

“They win one game here and you talk about rivalry?” said the Stampeders’ receiver, who got it going after the walk-through prior to Monday’s 46th edition of the Labour Day Classic.

“Saskatchewan beats us in the playoffs,” he said of the Roughriders winning the last two Western Finals in comparison to the Eskimos 24-19 regular season win here July 23.

“Don’t talk to me about Edmonton.”

Somewhere in there ... isn’t that the Eskimos best hope for Monday’s 46th edition of the CFL’s signature regular-season game?

Cocky overconfidence?

How can the Stampeders not be going into this game drooling about a walk-in-the-park win?

Monday is the one-month anniversary of the last time the Eskimos scored a touchdown!

Edmonton lost last year’s game 52-5, the worst drubbing in the history of the game and has now gone 11 consecutive quarters without scoring a TD!

(Stats guru Jack Morrow points out that by contrast, the Eskimos once went 133 straight games, including playoffs and Grey Cups, from Oct. 15 1978 to Aug. 1, 1986, with at least one touchdown.)

Every Edmonton fan knows about giving up 18 sacks and going minus-11 in turnovers in losing the last three games. While the Eskimos were doing this, the Stampeders ripped off four wins in a row.

This is the fifth time Calgary has gone into Labour Day with at least a four-game winning streak (1993, 1994, 1996 and 2000) and the Stampeders record on those Labour Days is 4-0.

The Stampeders know the Eskimos are a beaten, battered, team going through a major run of injuries.

Indeed, the green and gold is a team which replaced half their players in the off-season and now has been forced into a situation where they are replacing them again.

Of their 12 starters from the opening game of the season, seven different players and have had 10 starters either in new or different positions. In the first eight weeks, a total of 44 players had started at least one game.

With all that in play, how can the Stampeders not go into this game figuring the sky is falling in Edmonton and it’s in the bag?

Eskimos’ Ricky Ray supplied the answer.

“It’s Labour Day,” he said.

“On Labour Day you never know what’s going to happen.”

Ray said if this was another game against another team in another city with all those numbers in play, maybe. But this is Edmonton at Calgary on Labour Day.

Stampeders’ quarterback Henry Burris made the point.

“In 2008, even though we won the Grey Cup, it was like there was an asterisk because we lost to Edmonton on Labour Day.”

Burris, who has passed for nine touchdowns against only one interception in averaging 338 yards passing during the four-game winning streak, said there was a role reversal the last time the Eskimos were here.

“The last time we played Edmonton and that was us!”

It was the Stamps who had all the injuries then.

“Nobody felt sorry for us. Don’t expect us to feel sorry for Edmonton.”

You can look at all the contrasting statistics involving the two teams, he said, but there’s only one that matters, the standings.

“First and foremost, if they win either of these two games, they win the regular-season series,” said Burris of the three games these two teams play this year.

“These two teams are playing for first place, that’s how I see it,” said Calgary coach John Hufnagel of the 6-2 and 5-3 teams.

That should be the story. It’s been a while since the Eskimos and Stampeders went into Labour Day in first and second place. But you’d have had to have gone off planet for the last month to not notice all the other stuff.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca 


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