August 30, 2014

“Classic” might return in traditional Labour Day game

July 24 marked the first meeting of the season between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders.  The “Red Raiders” to the south beat the green and gold 26-20 handing the Eskimos their first loss of the season. 

Following the game a picture was sent out on Twitter.  It showed the motorcycle belonging to Eskimos head coach Chris Jones flanked by four members of the Stampeders.

The picture raised the ire of many Eskimos fans.

Chris Jones himself had a much different reaction.

“That was pretty ingenious on their part, “smiled Jones.  “They did a good job whoever thought of that that was probably Juwan (Simpson).

Another Labour Day Classic is upon us and if that picture adds any extra motivation to what should be a very good football game, so be it.  The trash talking has already started from the Stampeders side of things.  Shawn Lemon, one of the players picture around Jones’ motorcycle sent a tweet of the infamous picture to Eskimos defensive lineman Almondo Sewell and Odell Willis saying “Remember this S*** boys!”   Willis struck back saying “You guys act like lil kids.”  Sewell’s response was a simple “haha.” 

Slotback Fred Stamps says his team needs to stay focused on the task at hand and that’s winning a very important football game.

“Let those guys talk, we are just focused on what we can do right now in practice and we’ll find out what goes on Monday,” Stamps said.  “They can talk all they want, we’ll just wait until Monday.”

Chris Jones agrees.

“We just got something to do, we know we got a job,” Jones said.  “We just have to go out and play smash mouth football and be aggressive like we have over the course of the eight games that we’ve played.  We look forward to it.”

As do so many Eskimos fans who have had to watch the Labour Day Classic in the last few years only for the sake of rivalry.  There wasn’t much to look forward to as far as the standings were concerned, but oh how that has changed this year.

The 2014 Labour Day Classic will feature the best combined record ever between the two teams.  Both teams are sitting with 7-1 records.  Previously the best combined Labour Day record was 1993 when the Stampeders were 9-0 and the Eskimos were 6-3. 

The Eskimos are the best team in the CFL in average yards allowed per game (273.6), second in average rushing yards allowed (82.4), and average passing yards allowed per game (216.9).  The Eskimos are second in the CFL in average points allowed per game (17.8), the Stampeders are number one in that category (16.3). 

The Eskimos have the best rushing attack in the CFL averaging 137 yards per game.  The Stampeders have the best run defense in the league allowing a league low 81.1 rushing yards per game.  The Stampeders are third in the league in average yards of offense per game (345.1), the Eskimos are fourth (341.9).  Finally these are the two best scoring teams in the league by average per game with the Stampeders leading the Eskimos by a 0.5 margin (27.3 to 26.8).

Head coach Chris Jones says his group of players have fought through much to earn a 7-1 record.

“We’ve done a real nice job of continuing to stay the course,” Jones explained.  “Every single game has posed some kind of adversity for us whether it’s been players being injured and having someone step up their absence.  Or whether it’s we don’t play well in the first half and we have to bounce back in the second half or vice versa.  There’s always been some kind of adversity.  It seems to me that this group has great character and they always find a way to come out on top.”

All the trash talking does in provide a little bulletin board material for both sides but its stuff that fans and media really feast on.  Hype is never a bad element in sports and when you have the best matchup ever record wise between the two teams in the history of the Labour Day Classic, the anticipation is and should be on overdrive. 

7-1 vs. 7-1 for the Labour Day Classic

You can’t ask for much more than that.