With B.C. in desperate need of a win, Lions set to host Redblacks

Joshua Clipperton, Canadian Press

There was a palpable anger in the B.C. Lions’ locker-room following a last-second loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats two weeks ago.

Wally Buono would like to see a little more of that emotion from his team on the field.

“After the fact, it’s too late. Maybe go into the game a little more angry,” said B.C.’s head coach and general manager. “Football is an emotional game played by angry men.

“The anger has to come before the game, not after the game.”

Fresh off a bye week, where all they could do was stew over the crushing 24-23 home defeat that put another major dent in their playoff hopes, the Lions (6-7) sit last in the CFL’s West Division as they prepare to host the Ottawa Redblacks (5-9-1) on Saturday.

Even if B.C. sweeps the club’s final five games, it still might not be enough to make the post-season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-6) and Edmonton Eskimos (7-6), who sit third and fourth in the West, both holding the tiebreaker over the Lions.

“You wanna be in the playoffs? You’re in the playoffs,” Buono said in describing his team’s current predicament. “I’ve been here a million times.

“I can handle the pressure. Can you?”

The good news for B.C. is Edmonton has lost six straight after starting the season 7-0, but the success or failure of the teams ahead of the Lions in the standings won’t matter if they can’t figure out their own game.

“It’s playoff football for us right now,” said B.C. wide receiver Bryan Burnham. “We can’t lose. We can’t rely on other teams. We have to do what we can.

“Every game’s a must-win from here on out.”

Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings showed signs of life in the loss to Hamilton after a dismal performance against the Calgary Stampeders the previous week, but an offence that was supposed to light up the scoreboard has still yet to find its rhythm for a club that has lost two straight and five of its last six.

“It’s been a tough season for all of us,” said Jennings, who has just six touchdown passes and an ugly 12 interceptions. “It hurts to lose, especially with all the expectations we have for ourselves.

“But we know it’s not over. We know our chances aren’t lost.”

Wide receiver Chris Williams, who signed with B.C. following two outstanding seasons in Ottawa, said the Lions’ biggest problem has been a lack of execution in key moments.

“We’ve just got to go out there and make plays when the opportunities are given,” said Williams. “There’s going to be some opportunities out there. We’ve got to sting them. We’ve got to make it count.”

The Redblacks, meanwhile, sit second in the East after two straight losses – including last week’s 18-17 home defeat to Saskatchewan – but should have star quarterback Trevor Harris, who suffered a separated throwing shoulder on Sept. 9, under centre at B.C. Place Stadium.

Last season’s Grey Cup champions, seven of the Redblacks’ nine losses have been a combined 17 points in what has also been a frustrating 2017.

“You play football to play football, not to watch it or be on the (injured reserve),” Harris told reporters in Ottawa before the team flew west. “Even just missing three weeks is something that’s an eye-opener.”

The Redblacks beat the Lions 31-24 in the nation’s capital back on Aug. 26. The visitors trailed 31-3 in the fourth quarter before a frantic comeback attempt fell short after quarterback Travis Lulay replaced an ineffective Jennings.

But Lulay suffered a torn ACL in his right knee two weeks later, thrusting Jennings back into the starting role.

Despite his struggles, Buono said the third-year pivot still has a chance to save both his and the Lions’ season.

It just has to start now.

“Athletes thrive on success,” said Buono. “When success doesn’t happen, everybody’s confidence starts to wane. It’s what your foundation is, it’s what your beliefs are, it’s what your support system is that helps you to get through it.

“At the end of it you’ve got to pick yourself up. Nobody’s going to help you.”

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11 Comments on With B.C. in desperate need of a win, Lions set to host Redblacks

  1. Time to stop talking about it and start DOING it.

  2. Wally has coached some very good teams into the playoffs, unfortunately a lot of those teams choked when it counted most. His coaching started the current choking trend in Cowtown, that will be his legacy. Great regular season coach that should have won a few more. Wally your rocking chair awaits you.

  3. Oh, so despite the fact he has not been there since about 2003ish, the fact that the stamps choke every year is Wally’s fault? I’m sure he would appreciate all the power you give him. OR, it doesn’t say much for the stamps that he’s been gone all those years and they still can’t fix the problem. I suppose Montreal’s woes are Wally fault too. He actually PLAYED for them.

    Wasn’t it Babe Ruth who struck out more than anyone else?

    • Its the truth suck it up princess, great regular season coach but can’t motivate his players for the big game, I’ve seen it time after time.

      • Who we talking about,Wally or Dickenson?

        • Ziggy, he’s referring to Wally but more focussed on name calling than clarity. So glad When he came on using dave that I changed my handle from Dave to BC Dave.

          In reality, as I was pointing out, it is not Wally because Calgary is choking and Wally has not been there in ages. People who win a lot are going to have the losses too. The ones you bash are the ones who lose a lot but never win. I’ll take Wally as my HC any day.

          • BC, you have a lot of nerve, first, you get on here and bash teams and their staff, like others do. You make mention of distinguishing yourself like your better, what a joke you are, keep Wally on the west coast and thank god there are only a few Lion fans.

  4. Football is a team sport. the Lions need better execution on offense and better on defense. So far this year I haven’t seen that yet. They do have the best receivers in the CFL, but their qb is so so and the offensive line is horrible. On the defense they need better pass rush and better defensive backs. Too late for this season. Buono to blame for not getting the best player in each position. Look at Calgary for example, why are they so good? They have the best palyers in every position.Better luck next year!

  5. As far as Offence goes, I believe we have no problems that better play selection will not solve. Run plays that put your O-line and QB in a position to succeed.

  6. All I can say is GO LEOS and knock out the OTTRBs today (or is it tonight?) 🙂

  7. TouchDownBC // October 7, 2017 at 6:43 pm //

    Redblacks 21 Lions 0 Final score

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