Toronto win changes everything for Edmonton head coach
Post-season berth for Eskimos means No. 2 QB Nichols, others will get more game action against Stampeders Friday night
EDMONTON - The irony isn’t lost on Kavis Reed.
The Edmonton Eskimos head coach walked in the door of his home on Thursday night to find his children jumping up and down and cheering. On the TV, he saw the replay of Toronto Argonauts kicker — and the man he cut from his team almost four months ago — Swayze Waters sending a 51-yard field goal through the uprights at Rogers Centre.
The last-second field goal gave Toronto a 43-40 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, ended the Tabbies’ season and clinched a playoff spot for the Eskimos.
“We had the young man here early in training camp and he kicked it very well for us,” Reed said.
“We decided that we were going to go with Grant Shaw and Burke Dales (as kicker and punter, respectively) and I broke the news to him that we were going to go in that direction.”
Reed cut Waters on July 10. Toronto signed him on July 15.
“To his credit, when he got a call from another team, he called us and said he would like to be back, but if we didn’t have room he would understand,” Reed said. “How appropriate that the young man that was so professional with us in many respects, helped put us in the playoffs.”
The win changes just about everything for the Eskimos as they go into their final regular-season game on Friday night against the Calgary Stampeders. Injured players can now rest up and young players who haven’t seen the game time they’d like to have this season will get an opportunity.
That starts at quarterback, where Reed said Kerry Joseph would take a back seat to backup Matt Nichols. Nichols was tantalizing in a fourth-quarter rally that he led on Sunday in Montreal against the Alouettes that gave the Eskimos a chance to win a game that they’d lagged behind in all day.
“There will definitely be changes with the quarterbacks,” the coach said. “That’s one thing that we definitely will do. We will probably be playing Matt Nichols more. We will get him as many reps on his arms and legs as possible, so we have a good evaluation of him.”
The stars seem to be aligning for an Argos–Eskimos crossover match. It’s been almost 11 months since Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman traded Ricky Ray to Toronto for quarterback Steven Jyles, Shaw and a first-round CFL draft pick. Critics of the trade have gone as far as to suggest that it was a part of a league-wide conspiracy to improve the Argos and make them relevant in Toronto in the year that the city hosts the 100th Grey Cup.
With the Argos having already clinched their home playoff game, Ray sat out Thursday’s game. Hamilton lost to a collection of Toronto’s second, third and fourth-string quarterbacks, despite a furious fourth-quarter rally that saw them come back from 14-points down to tie the game.
An Edmonton–Toronto playoff encounter would be the WD40 in the conspiracy theorists’ wheels and the reason that the football Gods — or at least the storyline Gods — have their jobs. A few pieces still have to fall into place for the Eskimos to get the crossover. An Edmonton win against Calgary paired with a Saskatchewan Roughriders loss to the B.C. Lions would send the Eskimos to Calgary next week for the West Division semifinal.
“Be careful what you ask for or what you try to get,” Reed said in regards to karma pulling his team in a specific direction.
“Our objective was to get into the post-season and to get into the post-season playing good football. (Friday) is an opportunity for us to turn the tide in terms of continuing on in the fourth quarter against Montreal and to play good, solid football and go into the post-season.”
Sherritt to play
Reed said linebacker J.C. Sherritt would likely play most or all of Friday’s game.
“J.C. is a football player and I feel honestly that our fans deserve to have our very best effort on the field for that last home game of 2012,” he said. “J.C. Sherritt is one of those players that will give us the best opportunity to win.”
Sherritt needs 10 tackles to set the league’s single-season record in that category.
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