The Edmonton Elks would like nothing more than to turn the page on what was a disappointing first half of the 2021 CFL season. They hope to do just that Friday night when they kick off a home and home series with the Blue Bombers from IG Field in Winnipeg.
The Elks started the season 0-2, then followed a two-game winning streak to tie at 2-2, but were unable to maintain their momentum and have lost three straight games to sit with a 2-5 record in last place in CFL Western Division.
Friends, rivals Collaros and Harris will face off when Winnipeg Blue Bombers host Edmonton Elks
Quarterback Trevor Harris, who returns Friday after missing the last two games with a neck injury, feels the first half of the season was extremely disappointing, but said it’s all about how the team ends up.
“I think it’s about how we can improve this situation to get out of this,” Harris said. “We need to test the means with this team, test the determination, and I think we will see that we have great character in the locker and a great team.
“I think we will look back at the end of the season and we will like how we responded at the beginning.”
Several trends must change for the Elks to guarantee a better second half of the season. Despite ranking second in the CFL in average net offensive yards per game (386.1), the Elks are seventh in the league in points scored at 140.
Defensively, the Elks have allowed the fewest average yards per game (288.3), they have allowed the second most points in the league at 185. Add them up and that results in a minus-45 point difference.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams after the Bombers won 37-22 in Edmonton on September 18.
During that game, the Elks led 16-15 before two turnovers led to two defensive touchdowns for the Bombers, changing the complexion of the game.
Trevor Harris will return Friday when the Edmonton Elks visit Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers are on a five-game winning streak and rank first in the West Division. What has made the Bombers successful this season is their league-leading turnover rate plus 14. Moose are last in that category with minus-13.
It’s a big challenge for the Elks on Friday, but running back James Wilder Junior says he’s looking forward to it and feels his team can rise to the occasion.
“Good team, we have faced them before. Big crowd there (at IG Field) and a great atmosphere. But as a competitor, you don’t want it any other way, ”Wilder said. “They are the best team in the league right now, to get there and get a victory on their field would be great for our team, for our morale and for our city.”
In addition to having Trevor Harris back in the lineup, the Elks will have offensive lineman David Beard playing center. Beard missed last week’s game in Ottawa because he was on COVID protocol. Defensive end Matheiu Betts returns after missing last week’s game in Ottawa with a leg injury. Linebacker Maxime Rouyer will play his first special teams game of the season. On the active roster are defensive linemen Cole Nelson and Rossini Sandjong, along with offensive lineman Steven Nielsen.
Top-ranked Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat Edmonton Elks 37-22 for fourth consecutive win
The following are the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Elks:
Quarterback: Trevor Harris
Running back: James Wilder Jr. (fullback: James Tuck)
Offensive line: SirVincent Rogers, Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, David Beard, Matt O’Donnell, Kyle Saxelid
Catchers: Derel Walker, Greg Ellingson, Shai Ross, Mike Jones, Tevaun Smith
Defensive line: Mathieu Betts, Jake Ceresna, Mike Moore, Kwaku Boateng
Linebackers: Nyles Morgan, Kieshawn Bierria, Derrick Moncrief
Defenders: Jonathon Mincy, Trumaine Washington, Jordan Hoover, Aaron Grymes, Jonathon Rose
You can listen to live coverage of Friday’s game between the Elks and Bombers at 630 CHED beginning with Countdown to Kickoff at 5 p.m. The opening kickoff from IG Field in Winnipeg will be at 6:30 p.m. with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling the entire live action. Plus, hear analysis from two-time Gray Cup champion and former Edmonton Football Team offensive lineman Blake Dermott.
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