No love for Eskimos at CanadInns
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg's Jovon Johnson intercepts a ball intended for Eskimos slotback Fred Stamps last October at CanadInns Stadium, where the Esks have lost their last four matches. (Reuters)
Thursday’s game at CanadInns Stadium might as well feature two teams that are 0-4.
Although the Edmonton Eskimos are tied at the top of the standings with the Saskatchewan Roughriders with 3-1 records, their recent visits to Winnipeg have yeilded the same amount of success — or lack thereof — as the Blue Bombers have had this season.
While Winnipeg is still searching for their first win of the season finally heading into their home-opener here in Week 5, Edmonton is also 0-4 when it comes to playing on the road against the Blue Bombers.
“Are we 0-4? I didn’t even know that,” said slotback Fred Stamps. “They have a great fan base, the fans are loud right over your head screaming.
“That’s the past. We’ve just got to go in there and play our football and know what we can do and just go out there and have fun.”
But it’s been anything but for Eskimos offensive lineman Kyle Koch.
“Going there, I know I’m 0-3 since I left there, I know that much,” said the veteran centre. “We’re going to break that streak this week.”
The Bombers are only too happy to share the credit for rolling out the red carpet for the Eskimos to trip over on their way to CanadInns Stadium.
“I think it’s just the way we play with our crowd behind us,” said Bombers defensive back and reigning CFL defensive player of the year Jovon Johnson. “It’s a different ball club. We play with such high intensity because of the way we can feed off of them and they make it tough on the opponents to actually hear what’s going on.
“It’s hard for them to make checks and adjustments, so it works in our advantage any time we play at home.”
It comes as no surprise to Reed, who was the Bombers defensive co-ordinator before becoming the head coach in Edmonton.
“They’re a very good football team and, except for 2010 when I was there, they had very good coaching,” Reed said. “They’re a team that plays with a lot of passion and their fan base really gets behind them. And the players respond very well to them.
“It’s a very tough venue.”
REMEMBERING HARRIS: The Edmonton Eskimos face the Blue Bombers one year to the day after Winnipeg’s former defensive line coach and assistant head coach Richard Harris died from a heart attack.
But Reed didn’t need any sort of reminder on his calendar to remember his former friend, co-worker and mentor.
“When the schedule came out, it was a date I looked at and it obviously brings back some very difficult emotions,” said Reed, who was with the Eskimos during an extended stay between trips last year and took the opportunity to read scripture at Harris’s funeral. “At the same time, I am at peace now that I know coach Harris is at peace and his legacy will never die. Definitely not in my heart.
“That’s the legacy of a man who mentored and built into men and made certain people knew what true professionalism was, and what compassion and sympathy and empathy for others really meant.
“Yes, this is a very difficult time and very difficult circumstance, but I know coach Harris will be smiling watching us.”