August 8, 2014

Campbell: Eskimos ready for a rare football road trip

Right now the Eskimos are sitting with a 4-1 record, not too shabby. That ‘1’ showing in the loss column happened in the team’s last outing and it happened just before the Eskimos scheduled bye week. 

A 26-22 loss to the rival Calgary Stampeders wasn’t the way slotback Adarius Bowman or the rest of the Eskimos wanted to go into a bye week.

“I think that Battle of Alberta has kind of rubbed on me after all these years.” Bowman said. “It’s something about losing to Calgary; we kind of gave it to them. We had too many penalties, just missed oppourtunities so it was a tough way to go on a bye. I think for me, my first two days I was kind of sulking. I really didn’t want to be on the bye week but I had to flush it.”

With the first real disappointment of the season behind them, the Eskimos returned to work last Friday and Saturday to get the kinks out. Much of the emphasis was on cardio, strength, and getting the football legs back after a week off.

The Eskimos practiced at Clarke Field which is beside Commonwealth Stadium, their usual practice facility. In fact the team will be without the luxuries of Commonwealth Stadium for the next couple of weeks as the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup is in Edmonton.

That means the Eskimos will take part in a football rarity.
A road trip.

Two games away from home starting this Friday night in Montreal against the Alouettes and a week later against the expansion Ottawa REDBLACKS.

It’s not unusual for team to be away from home for two days, the Riders are in the same situation this week having played in Ottawa last week and Winnipeg this week.

A road trip in football might not seem like a big deal to an outside observer. However an away game in football usually involves a one to two night stay in the road city and then the team is back home in their beds following a game. This time around, the Eskimos will get to Montreal on Thursday; play the Alouettes on Friday and then bus to Ottawa. The team will have two days off and then will practice at a football facility in nearby Gatineau, Quebec starting on Monday.

For a football team to set up shop on the road is very challenging. Instead of the comforts of the office for watching film and meetings, coaches need to book hotel boardrooms. Players and coaches have to live out of a hotel room, eat in places they may not be familiar with. And what does a player do with their free time away from home?

Adarius Bowman is a self-professed home body and says staying out East for two games is something he’s not particularly looking forward too.

“For some reason I love coming home,” he said. ”We charter those flights, we play our games, we do our work, and then we come home. So this going to be little different road trip for me and the rest of the guys.”

Bowman is a veteran on the team and says despite how uncomfortable he is with the Eskimos situation; he will try his best to lead the team as best he can.
There are benefits of a road trip as well. It offers a chance for a team to bond with each other. Teammates do their best to try and spend time together at home but some just go their own way. Now the team doesn’t have much of a choice. They will be in close quarters and it gives players a chance to get to know each other better and become a closer group.

The good news is the Eskimos are a good football team and they have bought in to what head coach Chris Jones and the rest of the coaching staff and the organization have been selling.

With both the Alouettes and the REDBLACKS only a combined two wins, the Eskimos stand a great chance of coming home with a 6-1 record. Anything less than that would have to be considered a big disappointment.

The Eskimos have faced adversity already this season. Three of their first four wins were of the come from behind variety. Now the team has suffered their first loss of the season, along with now losing their stadium, and heading on the road for over a week.

Adversity is something Chris Jones is not afraid of.

“Adversity is good for your character. So we have great character so it’s good for us to be challenged.”