Eskimos fate could rest in hands of EWU alum Matt Nichols, J.C. Sherritt

Matt Nichols during Edmonton Eskimos practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton earlier this...

Matt Nichols during Edmonton Eskimos practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton earlier this week. (QMI Agency

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:47 PM ET

Matt Nichols should, perhaps, be made aware of one interesting fact in Edmonton Eskimos history.

This will be the first time Edmonton has had three games against Calgary in September since Sept. 30, 1979.

That was Warren Moon's first start and first complete game for the team that won five consecutive Grey Cups.

The other 41 guys on the Eskimos should be made aware of the fact that if the Eskimos lose it will be the first time in their 63-year history they've ever managed to lose every game in the month of September.

It's the Big Gulp game for the Eskimos in a lot of ways.

If Grant Shaw makes two last-play field goals on the Labour Day home-and-home, the Eskimos go into this game at 7-5 and the Calgary Stampeders at 5-7.

It's the third meeting of the two teams in a month where the Eskimos have lost one game by two points and two games by one.

What happens Friday night in McMahon Stadium will decide direction for the rest of the season for Edmonton.

Lose it, and the team which last year played host to a home playoff game for the first time since 2004 will have virtually no chance of playing one there this year.

Lose, and the Eskimos will be six points back of the second-place Stampeders and have lost the season series.

Lose, and the rest of the season will be about finishing ahead of Saskatchewan, to finish third or finishing ahead of Hamilton to finish fourth and play Ricky Ray and the Toronto Argos in the Eastern semifinal in the host city of the 100th Grey Cup game.

Win, however, and the gulp is gone. They'd be two points back of Calgary, with a fourth and final meeting in Edmonton on the final week of the regular season. Match the Stampeders the rest of the way and the for-against total would likely be in their favour, in the event the two teams ended up tied in the final standings as was the case last year when they both went 11-7.

"It's pretty crazy to see how the breaks have gone this month," said 101-tackle man J.C. Sherritt.

"But this is where we find out what kind of team we are by the way we respond."

Once you have your head wrapped around all of the above, think of this: The Eskimos are trying do it with the two most important positions on the team Ñ quarterback and middle linebacker Ñ being filled by two guys from Eastern Washington University.

Not Alabama. Not Oregon. Not LSU. Not Florida State. Not Georgia. Not Ohio State. Not Texas. Not Michigan or Michigan State. Not Notre Dame. Not Oklahoma. Not Nebraska.

Eastern Washington!

Sherritt, who is two-thirds of the way through his second season, is already a CFL star.

Matt Nichols, with only one series and a couple of fire drill plays as a holder of CFL experience, will be making his first start.

"I know he can't wait to get out there and I know I can't wait to watch him. I'm really excited to be watching him play after playing on the same team for four years in college," said Sherritt.

The second coming of The Thumper knows he and his defensive mates may hold the key to giving Nichols a chance to experience success.

"Field position would be a big thing for him. It would be great to give Matt a short field every time he got out there."

That means do what the Saskatchewan Roughriders did to some extent last week, in stopping a four-game Stampeders winning streak by not allowing Jon Cornish to kill them like he did in rushing for a combined 29 carries for 256 yards and two touchdowns.

Sherritt and mates, including a couple of just-off-the plane NFL cuts on the defensive line, have to stop the man who mooned the Mosaic Stadium crowd last weekend.

Cornish admits the Eskimos have had plenty of time to prepare for him, with two games of film from earlier in the month in this rare occasion when the teams play three times September.

"To play teams so many times is a LOT," he said.

"The have a lot of information on you."

And they have the Saskatchewan film, although Cornish says he doesn't see how the Roughriders figure they stopped him.

"I had 69 yards," he said. "That's a good game."

Cornish was reminded the Eskimos did stop him in last year's semifinal.

"Kavis Reed told them before the game I was talking smack against them. During the game I'm asking them ÔWhy are you guys acting like you're so mad at me?' "

Might work again.

But great games from the EWU two would work best.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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