Usually when the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders are preparing to play one another it’s the week of Labour Day. Well, it’s only the final week of July heading into early August and the two teams will face each other for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon at McMahon Stadium.
Edmonton native and Eskimos starting centre David Beard says it’s strange for him and his teammates to be facing their provincial rivals so soon, but considering both teams are 4-2 and tied for second place in the CFL’s Western Division, he can make an exception.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Beard said.
“Labour Day is pretty special, but anytime you play Calgary it’s always a fun time.”
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Eskimos’ 2019 season.
It’s the first time the two teams will face each before Labour Day since the 2014 season. It’s also the first time the two teams will play in Calgary before Labour Day since the 2011 season when the Eskimos beat the Stampeders twice at McMahon Stadium.
Winning hasn’t come easy against the Stampeders, especially in Calgary. The Eskimos last won in Calgary back in October of the 2015 season and have just four wins at McMahon Stadium since the 2005 season.
Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris is one of several new Eskimos making their debut in the Battle of Alberta on Saturday.
Harris has his own personal rivalry with the Stampeders, who won the 106th Grey Cup over Harris and the Ottawa Redblacks last November in Edmonton.
Harris says he put the Grey Cup game away in the off-season but is looking forward to playing the Stampeders again.
“I’ve probably thought about Calgary the most in the off-season, but it took me awhile to get over the Grey Cup,” he said. “It took me a while to watch it. I would wake up and have dreams about the game, so it took me a while to get over that.
“I’m just embedded in the Edmonton Eskimos’ culture and I’m glad to be here and be a part of this, and we’re just going to focus on ourselves and focus on the process we’ve been focused on all year and just continue to strive to take another step towards the team we want to be.”
Listen below: Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris discusses the struggles in the red zone and his first taste of the Battle of Alberta this Saturday in Calgary.
The Stampeders, like the Eskimos, have gone through their fair share of changes. But Edmonton linebacker Brian Walker says the defending Grey Cup champions still have that aura about them.
“When you watch them play, it’s the same consistent Calgary football,” Walker said.
“Granted they lost a couple games, but still, the bulk of how they play when you watch them on film, it’s still the same brand of football,” he said. “They’re physical, they’re not going to make that many mistakes, they are going to play hard, so you still know who they are as a team.
“For us, it’s not really worrying about that. We’re going to play our game and if we come in playing our game with no mistakes, we can beat anybody.”
Several Eskimos players returned to practice on Tuesday: running back C.J. Gable, linebacker Don Unamba, defensive back Anthony Orange and receiver DaVaris Daniels.
On the flip-side Eskimos receiver Greg Ellingson, defensive back Josh Johnson, long-snapper Ryan King, linebacker Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga and linebacker Jonathon Walton all missed practice.
Kickoff on Saturday from McMahon Stadium in Calgary is at 5 p.m. 630 CHED will have Countdown to Kickoff starting at 3:30 p.m.
The Eskimos added two players to their practice roster on Tuesday in National defensive back Bryce Bartlett and American linebacker D.J. Calhoun. Both players attended Eskimos training camp this season.