By Jason Langvee
Here we are fans. Week 13 in the 2015 CFL season has come and gone. As the end of September sinks on us, and the summer begins to to slip from our grasp, the most exciting time of the CFL season begins. It’s now that we start seeing the typical “Bold Prediction” threads start to appear all over sports media, and that’s for good reason. With ⅔ of the season in the rear-view mirror, it is now that teams begin to stratify themselves to show what this year’s post-season will look like. For some, week 13 was exactly that; coming-out parties. For others though, more sobering realities have begun to sink in about this season’s fate. One player used this week to show the league that he, and his squad, have just might have what it takes to go all the way.
Kicking off week 13 was a matchup between the BC Lions and their hosts; the Calgary Stampeders. In what analysts thought might be a one-sided affair, the Stampeders tested the Leos for the duration of their skirmish. By game’s end, Bo Levi Mitchell had completed 24 passes for a total of 268 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mitchell’s favoured receiver; Eric Rogers, would expose BC’s defense to the tune of 115 yards throughout the game. Not all was lost for the Lions on Friday though. Chris Rainey, the Lions newcomer (formerly of the Alouettes) exploded on the special teams scene by recording 5 kick returns for a total of 186 yards, as well as another 6 punt returns to put his total yards from scrimmage at 333 along with a return to the house for a TD. Rainey’s performance was not enough to top the league-leading Stamps as Calgary closed the match 35-23.
In the week’s second game, Hamilton was tasked with hosting the Edmonton Eskimos in what many think might well turn into a post-season matchup to watch. Early on, Ticats’ QB1 Collaros was on point completing 7/10 passes on a drive that was emphatically capped with a sweet, sweet teardrop pass landing ever-so softly in the hands of Terrence Toliver. Unfortunately, not long after that Collaros was sidelined with what looks like might be a serious knee injury. With Collaros out, the Eskimos defence that we’ve all heard so much about put some serious pressure on the remaining Hamilton quarterback rotation. So much pressure was brought that by the end of the game it was Edmonton’s defence that would score the majority of their touchdowns. Otha Foster and Aaron Grymes both took advantage of their interceptions and managed to take the ball all the way to the house. Deon Lacey also made a huge impact in this game as the special teams captain found a way to contribute from his new assignment at rush-end, adding 2 sacks to his 2015 totals. Edmonton handed Hamilton their second-ever home loss by a score of 25-18.
Sunday’s tilt scheduled between the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a lot of implications, especially if you’re like me and already thinking about the playoffs. Heading into this game, the Bombers sat tied for 3rd in the West with a record of 4-7, while the Al’s sat at the bottom of the East with a similar record of 4-6. Considering that BC had already lost their week 13 game, Winnipeg could take sole possession of 3rd in the West with a win over Montreal. Instead, by halftime most fans watching this game knew that it would be the Alouettes claiming the victory. While the Al’s offence seemed tentative at times, it was their underappreciated defence that really clinched the matchup. Linebacker; Winston Venable, and defensive end; John Bowman combined for 3 sacks and 9 tackles, keeping Winnipeg’s new starter Matt Nichols anemic for most of the game. Add to that mix Stefan Logan, and Montreal was almost assuredly in good position to win. Logan’s stat line read like this: 3 kick returns for 138 yards (46 yard average), and 5 punt returns for 135 yards (27 yard average) which included a special teams touchdown. Montreal handily took down the Bombers by a score of 35-14.
We’ve talked about some good football, and some better performances thus far in the article, but if you paid attention to the CFL this week, you know we saved the best for last. In Saturday’s evening game set between the Ottawa REDBLACKS and their hosts the Saskatchewan Roughriders, fans were treated to a blow-for-blow contest where no lead was safe for the duration of the contest. With all due respect to a very solid performance put forward by Saskatchewan, it was Ottawa’s relentless attack that deserves the lion’s share of praise when breaking down the game. REDBLACKS receivers; Chris Williams, Ernest Jackson, and Maurice Price ended the contest with: 137, 101, and 91 yards, respectively. The man that got them that many yards? Well he is the RIVALUS Featured Player for week 13.
At 40 years of age Henry Burris still defies all expectations one places on a professional athlete. In his 15th season in the CFL, Burris possesses all of the tools that have made him so dangerous for so long. In fact, Burris remains one of only 2 quarterbacks (one of whom is now out indefinitely) in the CFL that are on track to finish 2015 with 5,000 or more passing yards. Against Saskatchewan Smilin’ Hank completed 78% of his 45 pass attempts for a total of 477 yards and 2 touchdowns. If Saskatchewan left a man open, Burris found them. If Saskatchewan collapsed his pocket, he checked-down to his versatile tailback; Jeremiah Johnson. If Saskatchewan took away that option, the 40-year old Burris ran, and did so as, or more effectively than his 20-something-year old contemporaries. On Saturday night, we witnessed the epitome of a professional athlete. We witnessed precision.We witnessed brute strength We witnessed football IQ, but most of all; we witnessed Henry Burris owning every aspect of his performance. For those reasons, Henry Burris is week 13’s RIVALUS Featured Player.
Congratulation Henry, you earned your team a hard-earned 2 points, and did so in spectacular fashion (as always).