Lions in CFL playoffs for the 19th straight season

 

B.C. will face Calgary in West semifinal, thanks to Eskimos win over Alouettes

 
 
 
 
B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is hoping to wrap up the CFL rushing title in the season finale this Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders. It will be those same Stamps that the Lions will face a week later in the CFL West semifinal as B.C. clinched a playoff berth on Sunday with Edmonton’s win over Montreal.
 
 

B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is hoping to wrap up the CFL rushing title in the season finale this Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders. It will be those same Stamps that the Lions will face a week later in the CFL West semifinal as B.C. clinched a playoff berth on Sunday with Edmonton’s win over Montreal.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

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What’s at stake — despite claims by coaches that no football game should ever be considered inconsequential — is really very little.

The B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders will play out the Canadian Football League regular season Saturday night at BC Place, using game No. 18 as a warm-up for the West Division semifinal between the same two teams eight days later at McMahon Stadium.

Huddled Sunday at coach Jeff Tedford’s residence in Langley, many of the Lions watched the Edmonton Eskimos confirm a 19th consecutive playoff berth for B.C. with a 40-22 win over the Montreal Alouettes at Commonwealth Stadium. The Edmonton victory dropped the Alouettes to 6-11 and eliminated any possibility of Montreal crossing over to the West Division playoffs at the expense of the 7-10 Lions. Edmonton’s victory, the eighth straight for the Eskimos, also had implications for the 13-4 Stampeders. Calgary is fated to finish second in the West, even if the Stamps defeat the Lions this weekend, having lost the season series to the Eskimos.

Edmonton, which has a scheduled bye in the final week of the regular season, won’t play again for 20 days. The 14-4 Esks will play host to the winner of the Lions-Stampeders semifinal Nov. 22 in Edmonton.

With one more game before the playoffs, wear and tear has to be of some concern to Tedford as he puts his lineup together for Saturday’s game. Overuse, however, is definitely not in the thinking of running back Andrew Harris.

Aiming to make some personal history, Harris wants all the carries he can handle in pursuit of his first CFL rushing title. The Lions’ feature back had a 161-yard lead over Jerome Messam going into Week 19, but he was held to just 10 yards on 11 carries in Friday’s 27-25 win over the Toronto Argonauts.

Messam, traded to the Stampeders on Oct. 14 by Saskatchewan, rushed for 121 yards against his former team on Saturday as the Stamps crushed the Roughriders 42-19.

Thus, Harris’ lead over Messam has been reduced to 50 yards (997-947) going into the final game. Montreal’s Tyrell Sutton is third with 920 yards.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t important,” Harris admitted. “I’m in my contract year. It’s definitely important for me. It’s also something (winning the rushing title) I haven’t accomplished yet. Obviously, for us, running the football helps us win games. There are a lot of factors that go into my reasoning.”

Joe Smith, who ran for a club record 1,510 yards in 2007, and Jim Evenson are the only Lions to have won previous rushing titles in the CFL. Evenson ran for 1,237 yards in 1971.

Messam won the league rushing title (1,057 yards) as a member of the Eskimos in 2011. From 201 to 2014, it was the Stampeders’ Jon Cornish who dominated the tables.

And so, for a fifth straight season, the CFL rushing crown could go to a Canadian back. The only question is, who will it be?

mbeamish@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/sixbeamers

 
 
 
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B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is hoping to wrap up the CFL rushing title in the season finale this Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders. It will be those same Stamps that the Lions will face a week later in the CFL West semifinal as B.C. clinched a playoff berth on Sunday with Edmonton’s win over Montreal.
 

B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is hoping to wrap up the CFL rushing title in the season finale this Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders. It will be those same Stamps that the Lions will face a week later in the CFL West semifinal as B.C. clinched a playoff berth on Sunday with Edmonton’s win over Montreal.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

 
B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is hoping to wrap up the CFL rushing title in the season finale this Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders. It will be those same Stamps that the Lions will face a week later in the CFL West semifinal as B.C. clinched a playoff berth on Sunday with Edmonton’s win over Montreal.
B.C. Lions’ quarterback Jonathon Jennings (10), left, hands off the ball to teammate Andrew Harris (33) while taking on the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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