October 20, 2023

Game Preview | EDM vs WPG

Scene setter: 

The circumstances for this one changed dramatically late Friday night courtesy the Calgary Stampeders dominant 41-16 win over the B.C. Lions in Vancouver. That result locked up first place in the West Division for the Blue Bombers for a third straight season before they even step on the field against the Elks on Saturday. It also means the Blue Bombers are one win away from a fourth consecutive Grey Cup appearance and that football fans in Winnipeg can lock in for the West Final to be held at IG Field on November 11th, with kickoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The Elks, meanwhile, are playing their last game of the season – they have a bye next week – and are already into next-year country in a game that will offer one last chance to make a positive impression to Edmonton brass and whoever else around the league is watching.

The Basics

Kickoff: Saturday, 6 p.m. CDT; IG Field, Winnipeg.
U.S. and international live streaming:
Radio: 680 CJOB
Last meeting: The Blue Bombers overcame a 22-0 deficit – and with QB Zach Collaros having left the game with a neck injury – in a 38-29 win over the Elks in Edmonton on August 10th. Dru Brown came off the bench in that game to throw for 307 yards and four touchdowns in the rally.
PlayNow odds:  The Blue Bombers are favoured by 12 points. For more betting options on this game, click here.
Hall worthy: Justin Medlock – this year’s inductee to the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame – will be honoured during Saturday’s game. Read all about his induction here.
Notable: Saturday is the Blue Bombers annual Intercept Cancer Game. Two pieces on that: Buck Pierce on how his wife Lori has twice battled cancer, and Tanner Cadwallader’s ‘In My Words’ story on losing his mom to cancer.

Play Now

The QBs

  • Winnipeg will start Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 72-40 in his CFL career and 11-6 vs. Edmonton all-time in the regular season.
  • Edmonton lines up Canadian Tre Ford at QB. He is 5-7 in his career and 0-1 all-time vs. Winnipeg.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 94-62. O’Shea’s 94 wins as Blue Bombers head coach now ranks him second all-time in franchise history behind only Bud Grant (102). O’Shea’s teams are 13-8 vs Edmonton all-time.

Edmonton: Chris Jones has a career record of 61-64. His teams are 7-9 vs. Winnipeg all-time in the regular season.

Blue Bomber Roster Notes

  • The Blue Bombers have made just one roster change for this week, but it’s a biggie. Receiver Dalton Schoen is officially out with an ankle injury and his spot on the roster will be taken by Greg McCrae. Schoen, it should be noted, has been moved to the one-game injured list.
  • Brendan O’Leary-Orange will start in Schoen’s spot with McCrae listed as a slotback behind Drew Wolitarsky.
  • Jamal Parker will start again at cornerback in Demerio Houston’s spot opposite Winston Rose. Houston missed the game in B.C. and is again on the one-game injured list.
  • The six-game injured list includes LBs Shayne Gauthier and Jared Beeksma, dime Alden Darby, Jr. FB Mile Miller, and receiver Jeremy Murphy.

Blue Bomber Spotlight: Kenny Lawler, receiver

Schoen’s absence still leaves the Blue Bombers with a deep and talented receiving corps which features Nic Demski, Drew Wolitarsky and Rasheed Bailey, along with veteran Kenny Lawler.

Lawler has 41 catches for 746 yards and six TDs in 10 games, and along with the rest of the crew, will look to offset the loss of Schoen’s production – he had 71 receptions for 1,222 yards and 10 TDs before suffering his ankle injury.

“Hey man – next man up, that’s what it is, that’s what it has to be,” said Lawler. “In football people are going to get hurt; what’s the next guy doing to prepare for his opportunity. Here in Winnipeg, we do a great job of preparing our back-ups for just staying ready and if Dalton’s not up during the game they’re going to see someone else that is well prepared and ready to make plays and come in and make the most of his opportunity.”

Check out Lawler’s full interview – and a photo bomb from Jermarcus Hardrick – here:

Scouting the Elks

The Elks are coming off a 35-21 home loss to the Montreal Alouettes last weekend in a game in which they held a 21-3 lead before imploding in the second quarter. The club is 4-4 in its last eight, but currently on a three-game slide.

The still-emerging storyline in Edmonton is the play of Ford behind centre. He’s helped breathe life into an attack that was listless in an 0-9 start and provides some challenges to a Blue Bombers defence that has been occasionally prone to mobile QBs.

Edmonton ranks last in the CFL in offensive points per game at 18.9 and eight in points allowed at 25.8. Their attack does feature a ton of skill, with running back Kevin Brown third in the CFL in rushing with 1,100 yards and receiver Eugene Lewis – who missed the first two games against Winnipeg due to injury – along with Dillon Mitchell, Kyran Moore and veteran Manny Arceneaux.

Defensively, D-linemen A.C. Leonard and Jake Ceresna are a handful up front as each have a dozen sacks, and there are veterans like Luchiez Purifoy, Ed Gainey and Nyles Morgan is currently third in the CFL with 97 tackles.

“They’ve got nothing to lose and players who want to be around next year and they need to show up on tape,” said linebacker Adam Bighill of the Elks earlier this week. “Chris Jones wants to see who wants to be there next year; I’m pretty sure about that. We expect them to come and give us their best game of the year.

“They’ve been doing some good things and improving. Tre Ford’s making magic happen all over the field. At the end of the day, we’ve got to be able to handle that. It’s not going to be a gimmee or an easy one by any means. They’re coming in here giving their best shot.”

Key Matchup

Blue Bombers cornerbacks Winston Rose and Jamal Parker vs. Elks receiver Eugene Lewis and Kyran Moore.

Lewis, as mentioned above, will be facing the Blue Bombers for the first time this year. He’s a dangerous playmaker who turns 50-50 balls into 90-10 balls in his favour. Moore is experienced, too, and along with Mitchell, Arceneaux and University of Manitoba product Gavin Cobb offer up a ton of options to Ford.

Parker was solid in his first start in the win over the Lions, while Rose still has the skillset to be a shutdown corner.


  • Nic Demski needs 21 yards receiving to reach the 1K mark for the first time in his career. The uniqueness of having Demski and Brady Oliveira – two Canadians, two Winnipeggers from the same high school reaching the 1K mark in rushing and receiving in the same season – would be a CFL first.
  • Oliveira’s 1,426 yards rushing has him on a pace for 1,604 yards – a total which would be the second highest by a Canadian in league history to Jon Cornish’s 1,813-yard season with Calgary in 2013. Oliveira’s total, by the way, ranks as 9th best single season total in Blue Bombers history. Ahead of him: Robert Mimbs (1,769 in 1991), Willard Reaves (1,733 in 1984), Charles Roberts (1,624 in 2005), Roberts (1,609 in 2006), Roberts (1,554 in 2003), Mack Herron (1,527 in 1972), Roberts (1,522 in 2004) and Reaves (1,471 in 1877).


“Everybody has faith. Everybody believes in this team no matter what the score is. We believe that if we’re out there on the field it doesn’t matter what the time is or what the score is, we believe we can win. That’s what’s special about this team. We know there’s always going to be adversity, but we know how to handle that, keep our minds right and keep pushing and persevering until we get a win.” – Blue Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.