These are sad days for football fans in Alberta. The province used to be the most dreaded place for CFL teams to play. Edmonton and Calgary were known as the “Death Valley” of the league but not anymore. At least the Calgary Stampeders are showing some signs of life this season with a .333 winning percentage. The Edmonton Elks? There’s nowhere to go but up when you have a .000 winning percentage after seven games.
Looking ahead at the CFL schedule, it appears the Elks best chance at achieving their first win of the season might be on Labour Day or the following week when they host the Stampeders in the back to back rivalry games. Edmonton’s schedule in the next four games is pretty tough and the Elks have now become the free space on the CFL bingo card. If they have any hopes of winning a game this season, it may very well come down to the home and home series with Calgary in early September.
What’s happening with Edmonton and Calgary?
A quarterback match up featuring Jake Maier of the Stampeders vs. Taylor Cornelius of the Elks just doesn’t feel the same as a Doug Flutie vs. Tracy Ham. Nostalgic CFL fans remember the great Eskimo teams of the 70’s and 80’s. And then the Wally Buono and John Hufnagel led Stampeder teams of the 90’s and 2000’s. It seemed like both franchises could do no wrong for decades, especially with the line up of great Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. I was envious of the Quarterbacks that called Calgary home such as Flutie, Jeff Garcia, Dave Dickenson and Bo Levi Mitchell.
As a green and gold fan, I had a hard time cheering for the Stampeders, and I hope they felt the same way about Edmonton. But I tip my hat to the Stamps and their organization for how many years they were either the top dogs or close to the top in the CFL. Now, I feel bad for both franchises. The CFL needs strong teams in Edmonton and Calgary, and hopefully the Battle of Alberta in Football will have some significance again.
Can Edmonton Win A Game Before Labour Day?
The Elks host the BC Lions on July 29th, then enjoy a bye week. In the month of August, they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on August 10, then play in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats on August 17. And, on August 27 the Elks host the Ottawa Redblacks. Their current record against all these teams is 0-5. Elks fans will be pleasantly surprised if they can get a win before September rolls around. Oftentimes the CFL season is a tale of two halves. The summer time with its warm weather, and lazy afternoons on the gridiron, and then once September comes and the colder weather it’s time to get serious. If Elks Head Coach and General Manager Chris Jones can come up with the right combination of players and get the ship turned around by the second half of the season, it could make for an exciting fall in Edmonton. If not, it’s going to be a cold, dark season where Edmonton sports fans are going to focus almost all of their attention on the Oilers.
Edmonton Fans Need A Sign of Hope
I might be beating a dead horse (sorry for the bad pun Stamps fans) but I think Coach Jones needs to put Tre Ford in at Quarterback. I don’t think anyone really knows what the Elks have in Ford, because he hasn’t played enough. I’m not sure if Ford could be the second coming of Warren Moon, or another version of Nealon Greene, who I consider the best throwing running back in CFL History.
Give Ford a shot, see what he can do. If he proves that he’s not good, that’s all the answers Elks fans would need. However, if he can provide a spark, and possibly bring the team out of the doldrums, it would be a great story. I respect Coach Jones. He knows more about football than I could ever dream. But in my imagination, a win over the Calgary Stampeders on Labour Day led by Quarterback Tre Ford could be exactly the kick start the Elks franchise needs to move forward. Just a thought.
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