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September 2, 2018

PREVIEW: EDM @ CGY

They’re the two sweetest words in the Canadian Football lexicon.

Labour Day.

The Stampeders look to expand their West Division lead on the second-place Edmonton Eskimos as the storied rivalry between these two provincial counterparts renews Monday in the annual showdown at McMahon Stadium.

“I look forward to this every year,” said Joshua Bell, the first-year DB coach who joined the Stamps in 2014 and is on a personal four-game winning streak.

“I have just one precious memory of my experience in these games: winning.

“I can’t remember any of the plays in any of the games…

“I just remember that we usually dominate.”

Indeed.

The Stamps have won six in a row and eight of the past 10 Labour Day matchups, outscoring the Eskimos 287 to 174 in the process.

Even so, the Stamps aren’t taking their opponent lightly.

“Edmonton has held serve pretty well,” Bell said.

“We only have a two-game lead and guess what? We’re playing ’em back to back at a time of the year when anything can happen.”

First-year running back Don Jackson, who has 488 yards and two touchdowns on the ground this year, will be making his Labour Day debut. Until now, he’s only heard of what makes this game so special, and how the intense, playoff-like atmosphere at McMahon is unlike any other in the CFL.

“We want to come out here, have some fun and embrace the game for what it is,” he said.

“It’s a big game; packed house. We (approach) it like that and we want to come out with the win.

“I’ve got full faith in my guys. We’re focused right now.”

The Stamps are a perfect 5-0 at home, 8-1 on the year, and are coming off a dominant 39-26 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers that saw Bo Levi Mitchell throw for a career high 452 yards and three touchdowns, and slotback Kamar Jorden set a new Stamps record for yards in a single game with an incredible 249 through the air.

As a result, Jorden was named one of the CFL’s Top Performers for the month for August and is now second among receivers with 895 yards.

The 6-4 Eskimos, meanwhile, have lost two of their last three, including last week’s 25-24 defeat at the hands at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who won the game on a last-second field goal by Lirim Hajrullahu.

Despite their struggles of late, the Eskimos remain a formidable foe, led by the CFL’s reigning MOP Mike Reilly on offence. They boast two of the top three receivers in the game, with second-year wideout Duke Williams leading all ball-grabbers with 947 yards through 10 games.

Veteran slotback Derek Walker sits third with 875 yards, and his eight touchdowns are tops in the league.

“It definitely feels good to get up top with those two,” Jorden said.

“I’ve never been in this situation of playing in a game with the top receivers or anything like that, so I guess it adds extra (incentive).

“But at the end of the day, we just want to win the game.”

According to linebacker Alex Singleton, the long week has been a benefit to the Stamps as they study up on their rival’s tendencies. The key, he says, is making the Eskimos’ offence “one dimensional” by forcing Reilly to scramble and throw the predictable deep ball.

Singleton, who sacked Reilly in last year’s LDC, can hardly wait for kickoff and all the pre-game pageantry that comes with this great Canadian tradition.

“You get that chill down your spine,” he said.

“With the flyover and everything for this game, it’s pretty special.”