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September is almost upon us, which means I’ll have to be going back to work soon. Allegedly. Still working on getting that body double stuff all sorted out, but apparently harnessing the power of lightning strikes in an abandoned castle laboratory is much trickier than anticipated. At any rate, at least we all have LaboUr Day to look forward to this weekend! Yes, thank your local retired union rep for gaining you and your fellow workers the time off, and also possibly for getting their teeth kicked in years ago during the process of organizing for gaining this long weekend for everyone. Or, do what I do, and get drunk at the lake. Both are acceptable. I don’t judge.
This weekend marks the usual LaboUr Day rivalry games that have been specifically scheduled for years and years, and the old fucks (specifically, Gord from Flin Flon, Gord from Dundas, and Kevin from Canmore) have claimed for decades that “the CFL never really starts until Labour Day, y’know”, but even as such, the atmosphere around these specific games remains very fun. Next week will also feature a number of re-matches, which have also been a usual part of the CFL schedule for a long time.
In news around the CFL this week:
- Just over two weeks after getting cut by Saskatchewan, the Argos have signed embattled wide receiver Duron Carter; on paper, he’ll provide another versatile weapon for Toronto, assuming he can learn the playbook and be able to keep his attitude in check; in particular, the behavioural concerns are what have gotten him exiled from every previous team he’s ever been on, so I’m still not holding my breath here… At any rate, Argos HC Marc Trestman has said that Carter won’t play this week against the Ti-Cats, but will likely be ready to go for their Week 13 re-match back at BMO Field.
- In other Argos news, DB Cassius Vaughn is most likely out for the season with an Achilles injury, suffered in last week’s loss to Montreal on a non-contact play. The loss of Vaughn from the secondary is a noticeable one, as he’s been a key contributor in his three seasons in the CFL; he also holds the record for the longest touchdown in Grey Cup history, with the 109-yard fumble return he made against Calgary last year in the championship matchup in Ottawa. More tests will be forthcoming, but his prognosis right now is not good.
- After being released last week by the BC Lions, the Alouettess brought veteran DL Gabe Knapton into the fold on Monday. Knapton was traded in the offseason from Montreal to BC in exchange for WR Chris Williams, who was later flipped to Hamilton as part of the package that brought in celebrity QB Johnny Manziel. Knapton will hopefully be able to help shore up the front seven in a defence that has holes just about everywhere still…
- Speaking of Chris Williams, he’s been lost to the Ti-Cats for the rest of the year after injuring himself on a non-contact play in last Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Eskimos; he had surgery on Friday to repair a torn Achilles, and has no timetable for return. While this is of course a loss to Hamilton in their receiving corps, it’s also some brutal luck for Williams, who tore his ACL in 2016 with the Ottawa REDBLACKS and had to rehab like crazy in order to get healthy after signing with the BC Lions in 2017. At age 31, it’s tough to battle back from large-scale injuries like this, and it’ll be hard to say how his speed, his signature ability, will be affected moving forward. At any rate, bad week for Achilles injuries in the CFL. Best of luck to Cassius Vaughn and Chris Williams in their recovery.
Onto the games!
WEEK 11 RECAPS
Edmonton 24 vs. Hamilton 25: The Ti-Cats scored first very early on, but Mike Reilly and the Eskimos then put up 24 unanswered points on Hamilton, resulting in a big halftime lead. In the second half, Jeremiah Masoli worked hard to overcome his two first-half interceptions, and with 419 passing yards, kept airing it out in order to gradually chip away at the Eskimos’ lead. Thanks to two field goals from Lirim Hajrullahu and a late 51-yard touchdown from Masoli to WR Luke Tasker, Hamilton was within striking distance as they the stopped Edmonton’s final drive of the night. As the clock expired, Hajrullahu connected on his third field goal of the night, a 29-yard chip shot, to seal the gutsy come-from-behind win for the Ti-Cats.
Toronto 22 vs. Montreal 25: With Johnny Football still not cleared to return to playing duty, Antonio Pipkin got the call again to start at QB for Montreal – and delivered them their second win of the 2018 season. And as luck would have it, it was the second straight game this week that came down to the wire, with last-second kicks influencing the outcome. A positive sign for the Alouettes was the improved defensive play – after conceding over 500 total yards for four straight games, the D gave up a comparatively conservative 355 total yards and just 18 first downs against the Argos. The lead went back and forth throughout this one, but the fourth quarter provided the best drama; with the Alouettes scoring a field goal to give them a three-point lead, the Argos had just 1:10 left in order to tie or win. After two completions, Toronto advanced past midfield, but with no time left on the clock, Zack Medeiros cranked a 54-yard field goal attempt off the upright, sealing the win for Montreal.
Winnipeg 26 vs. Calgary 39: The Blue Bombers led 15-12 after 30 minutes of play, but ended up getting thoroughly bested by the league’s top team. Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell had a career game, as did WR Kamar Jorden; Mitchell went 25-42 for 452 yards and three TDs, including one to Jorden, who led all receivers with 10 catches for 249 yards, a Calgary franchise record – just bananas numbers. The Bombers had a ton of trouble running the ball against a stout Calgary defence, and with Matt Nichols forced to air it out 44 times, Winnipeg ended up paying for it, with two interceptions by the number one pivot, including a pick-six by Ja’Gared Davis in the dying minutes of the game that sealed the deal for the Stamps. With the Bombers now back at .500 on the season, things aren’t working out for the league’s top-scoring offence; their D needs to start getting in some stops, elsewise this team won’t be going far in what is proving to be once again a very deep West Division.
Saskatchewan 24 vs. BC 21: Another close game, and another unfortunate result for the Lions. While both teams were effective at moving the ball and putting some points on the board through the first 30 minutes of this matchup, the defences each locked down over the final 30; BC could only muster a single field goal in the entire second half, not enough to put them back into it; they were otherwise completely locked down by the Riders’ front seven. Saskatchewan didn’t fare too much better on the offensive front in the last two quarters, but were fortunate to have banked some points in the first half thanks to touchdowns from DB/RB Nick Marshall and WR Jordan Williams-Lambert and a couple of field goals from Brett Lauther, who would add another (and a rouge!) in the 3rd to help Saskatchewan win their second game in a row and leapfrog the Blue Bombers for third place in the tight West Division.
BYE: Ottawa (6-3)
WEEK 12 PREVIEWS
Montreal (2-8) vs. Ottawa (6-3), Friday, August 31st, 7:30 PM EST: The REDBLACKS are 2-0 so far this year against the Alouettes, and are looking to sweep the season for the second straight season against their Trans-Canada Highway rivals. Ottawa is coming off their bye week, hopefully feeling rested and ready, while Montreal scored a big win over Toronto last week to keep their scant, scant playoff hopes still alive. Not sure who will be starting at quarterback for Montreal this week, as Johnny Manziel has returned to practise with the Als, but has still not officially cleared the concussion protocal as of yet. Ottawa has historically gotten the better of the Alouettes in the Labour Day Classic, leading the all-time series between all the collective Montreal and Ottawa CFL franchises 13 wins to 10.
Winnipeg (5-5) vs. Saskatchewan (5-4), Sunday, September 2nd, 3:00 PM EST: The Roughriders have historically dominated the Labour Day Classic against their prairie rivals, currently leading the all-time competition 35-18. Saskatchewan won the 2017 game, and boasted an 11-year winning streak from 2005-2015, until Winnipeg’s win in 2016. This year’s matchup should hopefully prove to be another excellent one, featuring the high-octane Winnipeg offence against the staunch front seven in Saskatchewan. If the Bombers can run the ball effectively against the Riders, and if they can keep the heat (in the form of DEs Charleston Hughes and Willie Jefferson) off of Matt Nichols, then this’ll hopefully be an even tilt. With the way that Winnipeg’s faltered over the last few weeks, that’s not a guarantee at this point…
Edmonton (6-4) vs. Calgary (8-1), Monday, September 3rd, 3:00 PM EST: The two best quarterbacks in the league are squaring off once again, and I really hope that this is a fun one for Albertans. Of all the various Labour Day weekend games, this provincial rivalry has in fact been the most evenly matched one over the decades, with the Eskimos currently sporting a 29-28-1 lifetime record on Labour Day against the Stampeders. Calgary, however, has won this matchup six straight seasons and eight of the last nine, with Edmonton’s last victory coming in 2011. The Stamps’ D remains far and away the top unit in the league, but if anyone has the ability to expose the cracks in the formation, it’s 2017 Mike Reilly. All Bo Levi Mitchell has to do to keep with him is to chuck the ball as well as he did last week – 400 yards back-to-back is no sweat… right?
Toronto (3-6) vs. Hamilton (4-5), Monday, September 3rd, 6:30 PM EST: The Ti-Cats currently dominate the battle of the Queen Elizabeth Way in southern Ontario, holding a 33-13-1 all-time record on Labour Day against their Lake Ontario rivals. The winner of this annual tilt is awarded the Harold Ballard Trophy, named after the former (absolute raving fucking lunatic) owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey and Hamilton Tiger-Cats football teams. (Ballard owned the Leafs from 1971 until his death in 1990, and owned the Ti-Cats from 1978 to 1988.) While the rivalry isn’t as fierce as it was thirty years, due in part to Hamilton’s lack of success on the field and the lack of success of Toronto off the field, fans from both sides still put on a fine showing in Hamilton each Labour Day Monday. With the Ti-Cats having pulled off a gutsy comeback win last week at home, they’ll want to keep the momentum rolling this week and try to get back to .500 again on the year. Toronto won’t have Duron Carter in the lineup this week, but his presence will hopefully inject a little colour into the games up ahead between these two teams.
BYE: BC (3-6)
STANDINGS AND STATS
East Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
West Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
- Reilly, EDM – 3296
- Masoli, HAM – 2884
- Harris, OTT – 2735
- Reilly, EDM – 22
- Mitchell, CGY – 20
- Nichols, WPG – 10
- Harris, WPG – 805
- Powell, OTT – 714
- Gable, EDM – 613
- Williams, EDM – 947
- Jorden, CGY – 895
- Walker, EDM – 875
- Hughes, SSK – 12
- Willis, BC – 5
- Johnson, CGY – 5
- Murray, OTT – 3
- Fogg, WPG – 3
- Rose, BC – 3
- Lauther, SSK – 28
- Ward, OTT – 27
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 23
Nice job this week, GTD… And I guess good work to Litre_cola, this week’s highest points total.
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||29||2-2||69.05%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.