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‘We don’t have good memories’: B.C. Lions eager for long-awaited return to Edmonton

COVID-19 pandemic means its been 2 years since the teams clashed in Commonwealth Stadium
BC Lions receiver Jevon Cottoy (86) catches the football against Saskatchewan Roughriders during the fourth quarter of CFL football action against BC Lions in Regina on August 19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu

Jevon Cottoy wants to make some better memories at Commonwealth Stadium.

Although he’s in his third season with the B.C. Lions, the wide receiver has played in Edmonton just once during his CFL career.

“We don’t have good memories,” Cottoy said of the matchup back on Oct. 12, 2019.

He remembers then-star quarterback Michael Reilly leaving midway through the first quarter with a broken wrist. He remembers making a tackle after an Edmonton interception. He remembers the Lions losing 19-6 and missing the playoffs.

It was the last time B.C. played in Edmonton.

The COVID-19 pandemic scrubbed the entire 2020 season and an abbreviated 2021 campaign saw the two sides meet twice in Vancouver.

The Lions (11-5) will be back on Friday, though, as they look to lock up the No. 2 spot in the West against the Elks (4-13).

Edmonton, meanwhile, is hoping to snap a dubious 16-game losing streak on home turf. The club has not won at Commonwealth Stadium since beating the Lions back on Oct. 12, 2019.

That doesn’t mean B.C. is taking Friday’s game lightly, said Rick Campbell, who has yet to coach the Lions in Edmonton, despite joining the team back in December 2019.

“They’ve shown they can play with anyone in this league,” he said.

“I think we need to stay out of the business of worrying about their mindset or who they’re playing or what they’re doing or what they’re thinking and just make sure that we’re ready to go.”

It’s been a difficult season for the Elks, who come into Friday’s game having dropped three in a row. Last week, Edmonton saw its eight-point lead evaporate in the final minutes of the fourth quarter as the Toronto Argonauts took a 28-23 win.

“I know they’re desperate for a win,” said Lions defensive back T.J. Lee. “So they’re going to do everything in their power, with this being their last game (of the season) and all. But we want to come out dictating and continue our team goals.”

They may be wrapping up a disappointing campaign, but the Elks have a lot to prove in the final outing of the year, he added.

“I’ve been there before in that situation, and I know what those guys are playing for,” Lee said. “They’re playing for contracts, they’re planning for the next year, and they don’t want to put any bad film out there.

“Same with us. We’ve got team goals, personal goals for the end of the season. And we want to make sure we don’t put bad film out there as well. And we want to win.”

B.C. and Edmonton have already met twice in Vancouver this season, with the Lions taking a dominant 59-15 victory to open the season on June 11 and 46-14 win on Aug. 6.

The Lions know what they’ll be up against on Friday, Cottoy said.

“They’re very physical, but we’ve really got to take advantage of when they blitz and take risks,” he said. “And special teams too. We’ve really got to make sure we’re dialled in on special teams.”

B.C.’s special teams clicked in a 40-32 win over the league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week, with Terry Williams amassing a monstrous 341 return yards.

“I’d say every game (special teams) is getting better and better,” Cottoy said. “And we just got to make sure that keeps rolling into the playoffs.”

—Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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