As the only CFL team to wear orange, it’s pretty easy to distinguish themselves from their opponents but the Leos might feel like they’re in a colour time warp as they travel to Edmonton in week three to take on the 1-1 Eskimos.
A scheduling quirk has the Lions not only facing Calgary and Edmonton in preseason, but also seeing the Stamps in week one, the Argos in week two as well as week five and back-to-back tilts versus Green and Gold in weeks three and four. That’s seven games against three teams since the midway point of training camp.
“Yeah, that is kinda weird,” says quarterback Travis Lulay. “We’re certainly seeing a lot of each other and it makes things very challenging for us and exciting for fans.”
While the Leos know there’s plenty of football ahead, a two-game series versus the Eskimos is huge. Win them both and you take the season series; split them and you wait until October 25 to play the tie-breaker with possible home playoff date on the line.
“When you look back at a season you can pick out certain games that can set your season up for success or challenges down the road,” says head coach Mike Benevides. “I’m quite certain that these two games are going to be very big going forward.”
Last season, the Leos finished the year with a league-best mark of 13-5, but right behind them was Calgary at 12-6. Two of Calgary’s wins came versus an Eskimo squad that had two potential game-winning field goals go wide in their annual Labour Day series. Those two losses, to some degree, led to a second place finish for the Stamps and a crossover date in the Eastern Semi-Final for Edmonton.
“I know to say every game counts comes off as a bit of a cliche,” admits Benevides. “But every game really does count and that’s just one of dozens examples you can look at each year.”
For now, the Lions will take things one week at a time even if it means seeing green, gold and two shades of blue through the end of July.