September 26, 2017

Red and White to battle BC

BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders
McMahon Stadium
Saturday, Sept. 16
Kickoff: 5 p.m. MDT
Radio: News Talk 770, Sirius XM 167

In quest of a 16th straight win in front of their home crowd, the Stampeders will square off with the BC Lions on Saturday as they look to extend their lead in the ultra-competitive West Division.

Calgary, at 9-1-1, has not been defeated in the past two months while the Lions’ 6-5 record has them currently slotted in the No. 4 spot. All five Western teams have at least a .500 record.

“We’re at home and we think we play well here,” offered head coach Dave Dickenson leading up to the encounter. “We can’t take anything for granted, though. It’s going to take some great effort and we’ve got to have some urgency and bring it. I think the guys will be ready.”

Escaping with a road victory against the Esks last week, Calgary now goes up against a BC squad fresh off a dominating performance in a 41-18 win at home against Montreal.

The Stamps left Vancouver with a 21-17 victory on Aug. 18 for the seventh victory in their past eight meetings with the Lions. Bo Levi Mitchell completed just 15 passes but the defence stood tall in forcing two interceptions and registering a third-down stop credited to Shaquille Richardson with 16 seconds left on the clock. In addition, Charleston Hughes recovered a fumble off a punt blocked by Ja’Gared Davis.

Through 11 games apiece, Jerome Messam (nine) and Jeremiah Johnson (eight) sit first and second in the CFL respectively in terms of rushing touchdowns. Calgary and BC have also scored the most majors on the ground overall.

However, the two teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of turnover ratio – the Stampeders are plus-16 and the Lions are minus-six.

“I think BC is one of the most physical teams in the league,” Dickenson offered. “Whoever is playing, we expect good things from them – physical play, fast play, skilled play. We’ll see how we can do.”

BC has come away with points in the red zone on a league-best 76.9 per cent of their opportunities, although the Stamps have the stingiest defence when deep in their own territory, having conceded scoring plays just 42.9 per cent of the time.

Kickers Rene Paredes of Calgary and Ty Long of the Lions have combined to go 36-of-38 on field goals inside the 40-yard line.

Quarterback Jonathon Jennings looks to improve upon his 3-4 record this year when he goes up against DeVone Claybrooks’ defensive unit. Jennings was No. 1 on the depth chart coming out of training camp but missed three starts due to injury and one other due to the promotion of Travis Lulay, who suffered a season-ending injury when facing the Alouettes. Operating the opposing offensive huddle will be Eastern Washington product Bo Levi Mitchell in his 63rd career start with 52 wins already to his name.

Drawing onto the roster this week will be Reggie Begelton, Reuben Frank, Patrick Levels, Mike Rose and Cam Thorn. Removed from the 46-man list are Joe Burnett, DaVaris Daniels, Justin Renfrow, Adam Thibault and Junior Turner.