An afternoon affair to kick off the 2017 edition of the Battle of Alberta will pit the 7-1-1 Stamps against the 7-2 Esks in the always-anticipated Labour Day Classic as part of Mark’s Labour Day Weekend.
Calgary has won five straight games while the Eskimos have lost their last two outings after seven consecutive victories to begin their season.
“We understand what’s coming up,” began head coach Dave Dickenson. “We’re playing the West back-to-back with Edmonton. We know it’s going to be a great game. They’re coming off a couple losses so they’ll be ready. We’re hoping to get a full house here and get the win.”
In recent Week 10 action, the Stampeders took care of the Argos 23-7 for their 14th regular-season triumph in a row at home. Apart from last year’s Grey Cup, the 384 passing yards by Bo Levi Mitchell was the highest single-game total of his career. The defence did not allow a single point to Toronto and the team has surrendered just eight points in its past two appearances at McMahon.
The Esks are coming off a 54-31 defeat while hosting the Roughriders. Edmonton’s defensive unit gave up double-digit points in each quarter last Friday and Mike Reilly threw multiple interceptions without a touchdown pass for the first time since October 2012.
With those results, Calgary moved into first place in the West Division and although the Eskimos slipped to third, they currently sit just one point back of the Red and White.
Eight of the last 10 Labour Day dates have gone in favour of the Stamps including five consecutive W’s over their provincial rivals on the first Monday in September.
“It was heavy, heavy rivalry back in the 1990s,” Dickenson recalled. “I felt like it then got a little bit different, but now it feels like it’s 100 per cent back. It’s been such a great challenge to go up against Edmonton the last three or four years. The challenge is there, so that brings the best out of both teams.”
These two foes have allowed the fewest plays from scrimmage by their opponents and, in turn, their respective offences currently average the most time of possession in the CFL.
Reilly of the Green and Gold and Calgary’s Jerome Messam have combined for 13 rushing touchdowns thus far.
Whichever squad is ahead at halftime on Monday will hold a distinct advantage as each club is 5-0 when leading through 30 minutes of play. Discipline will likely be another key to victory in this hotly contested showdown – the Stamps have been flagged 59 times compared to a league-high 94 infractions for the Esks after nine outings.
All-star receiver Adarius Bowman will return for the Eskimos after recently being activated off the six-game injured list.
“He’s a great player and I think he’s right up there with the best in our entire league,” praised Dickenson. “I know Mike (Reilly) and him have a good thing going up there. We’re ready for their weapons and we understand he’s a great player and a guy that’s been outstanding in our league for many years.”