Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders Brace for Decisive Labour Day CFL Battle

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A flicker of confidence blooms within the Edmonton Elks while uncertainty shadows the Calgary Stampeders as they brace themselves for the annual CFL’s Battle of Alberta on Labour Day. The West Division clubs face an increasing distance from the coveted playoff spots making this match crucial for both sides.

The Stampeders (3-8) are nursing the wounds of a three-game losing streak in August, each loss inflicted by the top contenders of the CFL. On the other side, the Elks (2-9), defying their disappointing start, have secured two consecutive victories. Canadian quarterback, Tre Ford, a University of Waterloo graduate, has held the reins for Edmonton, leading them to these victories and shattering a deplorable 22-game losing streak at Commonwealth Stadium.

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With seven games still to go in their respective regular seasons, both clubs harbour hopes of breathing life back into their 2023 campaigns, although the restoration must begin sooner rather than later. Stampeders’ Head Coach Dave Dickenson voiced this urgency, drawing attention to the bitter rivalry, “One of us has to come out of the bottom and we’re hoping that’s us.”

The successive battle at McMahon Stadium on Monday and at Commonwealth on Saturday could potentially determine the fate of these Alberta-based CFL teams. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Elks’ Coach, Chris Jones, stated, “This is kind of a defining moment for both squads.”

The Stampeders have had their share of slings and arrows, grappling with defeats in the final three minutes of the game on six separate occasions this season. Four of those were by a mere three points or less. A string of unfortunate errors, such as Javon Leake’s touchdown for Toronto in the last quarter last week, breaking a tie and handing the Argonauts a victory, has added to their woes.

Despite these stumbling blocks, Dickenson maintains a spirit of resilience, emphasizing the need to replace doubt with a winning streak. While the team’s quarterback Jake Maier leads the league in passing yards, the Stampeders have only managed 12 touchdown catches in 11 games.

Edmonton’s initial 0-9 start this season saw them scoring zero points in two games. However, a fortuitous change in the form of Jarious Jackson’s promotion to offensive coordinator, and Tre Ford’s subsequent rise as the starting quarterback, seems to have invigorated the Elks.

Ford, a 25-year-old from Niagara Falls, Ont., harbours little doubt about his capability to spearhead the team. The thrill of the opportunity fuels him as he relishes the chance to lend credence to his supporters and silence his doubters.

Ford’s impressive performance in last week’s game against the Redblacks, having thrown for 317 yards and a touchdown without any interceptions and rushing 74 yards for another TD, only adds to the anticipation for this key match.

With two-thirds of the CFL regular season behind them, the Labour Day weekend games take on significant importance due to the traditional festive ambiance surrounding these matches. Naturally, victories under such circumstances have the potential to rejuvenate the teams.

However, both teams are dealt a blow with key players named as scratches for Monday’s game. For the Stampeders, defensive linemen Mike Moore and T.J. Rayam will not play Monday’s game. Similarly, Elks’ players Elliott Brown, J-Min Pelley, David Foucault, and Louchiez Purifoy are also reported to be sitting out. As the day approaches, the pressure mounts for Alberta’s CFL teams to prove their mettle in this pivotal encounter.