Stampeders RB Jon Cornish loves the Eskimos

Stampeders running back Jon Cornish is tackled by the Eskimos defence at McMahon Stadium in...

Stampeders running back Jon Cornish is tackled by the Eskimos defence at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., June 15, 2012. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:26 PM ET

EDMONTON - Jon Cornish has pretty much had his way with the Edmonton Eskimos this season.

The Calgary Stampeders running back has run roughshod over the Eskimos defence, wracking up 436 yards in three encounters.

With their playoffs lives on the line Friday at Commonwealth Stadium, the Eskimos know the key to a post-season berth will be to try and keep Cornish in check.

However, that’s a lot easier said than done.

“He’s a great player,” said Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt. “Calgary, they centre that offence around him and what he can do and that’s got to be one of our big focuses. But, it’s not like there are a whole bunch of bad players around him.”

The Stampeders are expected to play both quarterbacks Kevin Glenn and Drew Tate.

“They have a lot of big weapons out there and whoever comes out at quarterback, both of those guys can play good football and they’ll make you play if you just try to focus on one player.”

With second place in the West wrapped up, the Stampeders head into Edmonton with little on the line.

However, the Eskimos do not expect their provincial rivals to roll over and let them claim a playoff spot. Particularly since Cornish heads into the game needing just 50 rushing yards to break Normie Kwong’s long-standing record for most yards in a season by a Canadian back.

“Cornish has pretty much had our number this year,” said Eskimos linebacker T.J. Hill. “From a defensive standpoint, we need to stop him. We feel he’s one of our main priorities. We need to take them out of the flow of their game. If he gets started, then they’ll get into a good rhythm. That running game opens up their passing game.”

Cornish has rushed for 1,388 yards this season, nearly a third of which have come against the Eskimos.

On Labour Day, the New Westminster, B.C., product had 71 yards rushing and another 23 receiving in a 31-30 win over the Eskimos.

Less than a week later in the Labour Day rematch, Cornish, 27, rushed for 185 yards in a 20-18 win. Then at the end of September, he collected 180 yards on the ground in a 39-15 rout.

“It’s a very good offence, they do a lot of things very well,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “They have a lot of different formations, a lot of motion. When you break it down, they’re about a 50-50 team, they’re going to run the ball very effectively, and have very good play-action off of it. When they push the ball, they’re going to push the ball deep.”

However, they’ll be without receiver Nik Lewis, who is banged up and isn’t expected to make the trip to Edmonton.

Regardless, the Eskimos know they’ll still have their hands full with the Stampeders and need to come up with a big effort defensively.

“We have to eliminate big plays, we went back and looked at all our games we’ve played against them and we gave up way too many,” said Sherritt. “Against a team that good, once they get momentum, then they get rolling, so we definitely have to eliminate the big play.

“We also have to focus on eliminating our mistakes and reading our keys. We have to focus on getting better this week.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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