Elks aim to keep their playoff hopes alive on Friday on CISN Country

Edmonton Elks quarterback Tre Ford (2) runs the ball as B.C. Lions' Mathieu Betts (90) and Woody Baron (58) chase during first half CFL action in Edmonton on Friday, September 22, 2023. He’s moved his team into playoff contention — albeit barely — Tre Ford has provided the Edmonton Elks and their beleaguered fans with something much more tangible: hope for the future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

The Edmonton Elks started the season 0-9 which put them in a serious hole as far as their playoff hopes were concerned.

The Elks have turned the ship around in their last seven games going 4-3 in that time span led by Tre Ford’s eye-catching play at quarterback which has sparked the rest of the team.

Remarkably in Week 18, the Elks are still in the playoff conversation but it’s win or else time for the green and gold. They will look to stay alive on Friday night when they visit the Toronto Argonauts from BMO Field in a game you can hear on CISN Country 103.9 FM.

Elks head coach Chris Jones says his team is ready to finish the season strong following their most recent bye week

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The Elks sit with a 4-11 record and must win their final three games of the season.

They are chasing the 6-9 Saskatchewan Roughriders for third place in the West Division, the Riders need to lose their final three games as the Elks don’t own a tie-breaker advantage over the Riders having lost two of their three meetings.

The Elks also have to contend with the Calgary Stampeders who have an identical 4-11 record but who also own a tie-breaker advantage over the Elks based off point-differential from their two meetings this season.

The odds are long for the Elks but receiver Eugene Lewis says the only thing his team really controls is their own performance and they are paid to win games.

“Obviously you want to know that you still have a chance but either way, you have to have a sense of urgency for yourself and what you’re playing for,” Lewis said.

“You’re playing for your organization, you’re playing for your team, and you just have to play to win. All we can do right now is worry about ourselves, there’s so much that can happen but we just need to worry about winning our game.”

The Elks will look to get their offence on track as they were slow out of the gates in a 37-29 loss to the B.C. Lions two weeks ago.

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The Elks trailed 21-7 after the first quarter. The Elks rushing attack was slowed to the tune of 90 rushing yards with running back Kevin Brown held to just 18 rushing yards.

Quarterback Tre Ford was sacked seven times in the loss but still managed to throw for two touchdown passes giving him nine in seven starts this season.

The 12-2 Argos will provide a difficult test for the Elks as the double blue are the number one rush defence in the league and have given up the second-fewest points in the CFL.

Elks quarterback Tre Ford on facing the Argos defence who rank 1st in run defence and 2nd in points allowed

Injuries will force the Elks to make a number of lineup changes as five players have been placed on the team’s one-game injured list.

Middle linebacker Nyles Morgan who leads the Elks with 98 defensive tackles is out with a hamstring injury, he will be replaced by Tony Jones.

Defensive back Marcus Lewis is likely out for the season with a calf injury, Donovan Olumba will make his season debut at the wide-corner spot.

The Elks leading special teams tackler (17) in defensive back Scott Hutter is likely out for the season with a shoulder injury.

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Two Canadian defensive linemen are off the shelf as J-Min Pelley is dealing with appendicitis and Sam Acheampong injured his groin during the Elks practice week.

Defensive back Jake Taylor will come out of the lineup as a healthy scratch.

Coming on the roster is linebacker Enock Makozno who will play his first game since June 25 after dealing with a foot injury.

Makonzo was the Elks fourth overall pick in the 2022 CFL Draft and finished second on the team in defensive tackles that season with 22.

Linebackers Jeremie Dominique (hamstring) and linebacker Jordan Reaves (foot) have both been activated off the six-game injured list and will return to help on special teams.

Defensive lineman Eli Mencer returns after a stint on the six-game injured list with a calf injury.

Canadian defensive lineman Olivier Charles-Pierre will make a season Elks debut after signing with the team last weekend.

Charles-Pierre was in training camp with the Elks before being released in mid-July.

The following are the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Elks:


Quarterback: Tre Ford

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Running back: Kevin Brown Fulback: Tanner Green

Offensive line: Martez Ivey, David Foucault, Mark Korte, Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, Brett Boyko

Receivers: Eugene Lewis, Gavin Cobb, Manny Arceneaux, Dillon Mitchell, Kyran Moore


Defensive line: Jake Ceresna, Cole Nelson, Noah Curtis, A.C. Leonard

Linebackers: Adam Konar, Tony Jones, Enock Makonzo

Defensive backs: Kai Gray, Ed Gainey, Loucheiz Purifoy, Darrius Bratton, Donovan Olumba

You can hear live coverage of Friday’s game between the Elks and Argos on CISN Country 103.9 FM starting with Countdown to Kickoff with Brenden Escott at 3:30 p.m. The opening kickoff from BMO Field in Toronto will be at 5 p.m with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling all of the live action. Hear analysis from former Edmonton Football Team offensive lineman and two-time Grey Cup champion Blake Dermott.

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