Eskimos agree: 'This is the time of year when you want to be playing your best'
EDMONTON — A win over the visiting B.C. Lions on Saturday won't just ensure the Edmonton Eskimos make the playoffs.
It also will buy the Eskimos some time to get their game straightened out going into the post-season.
Losers of five of their last six games, the Eskimos (7-8) can lock up a playoff spot with two games to spare. An Eskimos win also would eliminate the Lions from playoff contention.
"This is the time of year you want to be playing your best football," Eskimos head coach Jason Maas said. "As of late, we haven't been playing our best. We've been fighting like hell every game, but the finishes haven't been there the way we'd like them to be.
"This is a perfect opportunity to win a game and get in the playoffs. There couldn't be much more at stake right now than this."
Drubbed 42-12 by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Oct. 4, the Eskimos have played their last three games without starting quarterback Trevor Harris. Harris has been on the six-game injured list because of a problem with his throwing arm, leaving backup Logan Kilgore at the helm.
Win Saturday, and there's no need to rush Harris back.
"I think there's good, bad and ugly in every game, win or lose," Kilgore said. "This is the time of year when the wins definitely mean a little bit more. This is the time of year when you want to play your best football.
"It's going to be a playoff atmosphere. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be a physical game. We understand we win this game and we take care of our first goal of the year, which is to get into the post-season."
Former Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly has led the Lions on a four-game winning streak. They're coming off a 55-8 win over the Toronto Argonauts last Saturday and have outscored their opponents 149-43 during the streak.
Beaten twice this season by the Eskimos and seemingly out of contention after a 1-10 start, a win Saturday means the Lions still have a chance at the crossover, however slim.
"When you're 1-10, there's no place to go but up," Maas said. "When you've got Mike Reilly as your quarterback, I know what that's like. I know what it's like to have Mike. He gives you a chance to win every week.
"I'm one of Mike's biggest fans. I think the world of the guy. As long as he's back there, they always have a chance to win. The way he is, the way he plays the game, the way he goes about his business, he's about as professional as there is. He's a tough competitor, so as long as you have No. 13 back there, you always have a chance."
B.C. LIONS (5-10) at EDMONTON ESKIMOS (7-8)
Saturday, Commonwealth Stadium
REILLY FACTOR: B.C. quarterback Mike Reilly comes in hot after throwing a career-high five touchdown passes in last Saturday's rout of the Toronto Argonauts. Reilly has amassed 1,224 passing yards and tossed 10 touchdown passes during the Lions' four-game winning streak, which is half his season total of 20.
STINGY D: In their 33-6 win over B.C. July 11, Edmonton held Reilly to 157 yards passing with no touchdowns and one interception. The Lions managed just 210 net yards. In a 39-23 win June 21, Reilly had just 149 yards passing with one TD and one interception. The Lions had 202 net yards.
MILESTONES: Edmonton's Greg Ellingson needs 39 yards to reach 1,000 yards receiving for the fifth straight season, the first four with Ottawa. Ricky Collins Jr. of the Eskimos needs 22 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the first time in his CFL career.
ONE DOES IT: In the rare case of a tie, the Eskimos would still clinch a playoff spot. They've won the season series against B.C. With 15 points, they could not be caught by either Ottawa or Toronto.
GABLE OUT: The Eskimos will not have leading rusher C.J. Gable because of a knee injury. Shaq Cooper takes his place.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2019.