Lunch bucket D gets it done for Esks

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:46 PM ET

You’ve got to give Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed credit for one thing: he understands this market.

Reed clearly demonstrated that by using descriptions like ‘blue collar’ and ‘lunch bucket’ to sum up the way his defence shut down Ricky Ray in Saturday’s 19-15 win over the Toronto Argonauts.

At least he’s totally tuned into the nature of the folks who buy football tickets in this blue-collar city.

While it might be a while before the 2012 version of the Eskimos establishes an identity and Edmonton transforms into Canada’s version of Pittsburgh, he knows the way it is.

You may not know who these guys are yet, but Reed is counting on the hope that some day you’re going to love them.

The defensive stars in the season-opener were middle linebacker J.C. Sherritt and defensive lineman Almondo Sewell.

Sherritt’s not exactly a household name like Dan Kepley, Danny Bass, A.J. Gass and Willie Pless, but he’s already made a bigger impact than Maurice Lloyd.

Sewell had his first-ever two-sack day. This is a guy the Eskimos cut after he appeared in three games last season.

“That’s what this team is made up of,” said Reed, warming up to the topic of Sewell.

“Even though we don’t know their names yet, they fly under the radar and they bring their lunchbuckets to work. Almondo Sewell goes out and plays hard every play and he’s rewarded with two sacks.”

Sherritt was everywhere, adding special team tackles to a team-high 11 tackles.

“That’s the way we love it — a lot of blue-collar guys,” said Reed. “One thing we can say is those guys flew around (tonight).”

This is a defence full of no-names just starting their CFL careers. Guys like defensive end Marcus Howard, the team’s 2011 sack master.

“As a defence, we knew the game was going to be in our hands,” said Howard. “Coach said if (defence) wins the game and special teams wins the game, we’ll win the game.”

That’s the way it’s going to be in the early going, until quarterback Steven Jyles can find his rhythm with this group of elite receivers.

“As a whole, I’d give us a B-minus,” said Howard, another second-year Eskimo.

“That’s pretty good for the first game of the season. J.C. Sherritt, he played wonderful.

“That’s what it’s all about, making the key stops when we had to. Bend but don’t break on defence.

“Almondo Sewell made some great plays. Guys just got after Ricky Ray and we made the key stop on (the final) third down.”

The big thing for the team’s confidence, said Sherritt, was to get the W right out of the gate by keeping the Argos off balance.

“It’s huge to get off on the right foot,” said Sherritt.

“The cliche is absolutely true. A win is a win is a win. We’ll take it. I’m just proud of the way everybody played.

“The way you handle adversity really defines a team. From our coaches to our players, I think we have a core than can handle adversity.

“My success is a direct result of the 11 guys around me, especially those guys on the front four.

“I think the whole world got to see what they did.

“When you have guys that good, as a linebacker it’s a dream, because the other side is not focusing on you, they’re focusing on the guys on thatline.”

The fact Sewell started the game in a backup role shows just how much depth there is along the D line.

“We’re one unit with a wolf pack mentality,” said Sewell.

“A long as we’re one, we’ll win games. Our whole defensive line played well, as challenged by coach Kavis. He came out in the second half and told us we had to pick it up.

“We did what we had to do.”


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