June 10, 2022

Game Preview | Lions vs. Elks

B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) passes as Phillip Norman (50) holds off Edmonton Elks' Kwaku Boateng (93) during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, on Friday, November 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

They didn’t necessarily know it then, but when they took the playing field to close out the 2021 regular season just over 200 days ago, the BC Lions were soon to be a team in transition. Nathan Rourke was the man behind centre that night and would churn out a solid 300-plus yard performance while rushing for three first-half touchdowns in a 43-10 pasting to end the season on a solid note. The Victoria-born gunslinger is the undisputed number one pivot representing a new era for the franchise.

The offseason pomp and circumstance is over. Now it’s time to get results. Everyone knows the challenge and pressure of trying to get back to the Grey Cup playoffs for the first time since 2018.

The Matchup

BC Lions vs. Edmonton Elks

Saturday, June 11

7:00 pm, BC Place


Radio: AM730, Lions Audio Network, Sirius XM 147 Canada Talks

Season Series: The teams will meet a total of three times this season: beyond this matchup, they will square off on August 6th in Vancouver and October 21st back in Edmonton

Rourke Keeps It Even-Keeled

Perhaps the best attribute of number 12 is the fact he doesn’t crave the spotlight. Never easy for someone who re-wrote the record books at his college program and carries the rare distinction of playing quarterback with a Canadian passport. This is a guy who just wants to win football games. The Canuck status is merely a nice bonus for him and the organization.

“I’m excited for this team and to start guns a blazing, so to speak. I’m excited for the environment we’re going to have and there is going to be a lot of folks happy they came out to watch us,” said Rourke in a Friday media availability.

The young quarterback is of the mind, victories in the only thing that will matter.

“We’re just worried about execution, not just about dazzling the fans. If we stick to our game plan and stick to executing, those plays are going to be there. We’ve got some great playmakers out there and I just need to fit into my role as a distributor and I’m sure if that’s going to happen, it will take care of itself.”

Already speaking like a true leader.

A Veteran Perspective

TJ Lee knows all about the excitement of a season opener. Excluding his first season in 2014 which was mostly spent on the practice roster, Saturday marks Lee’s seventh regular season opener in orange. Given his years of service, the pride of Eastern Washington knows Nik Arbuckle, Manny Arceneaux and company will present a big test, even if their 2021 record wasn’t to their liking. At the end of the day, it’s about taking care of their own business on defence.

“I’m sure they’ve got great athletes. I’m not really focusing on what they bring to the table,” Lee said.

“It’s about establishing our identity as a team and dictating what we want to happen this season.”

Speaking of Arceneaux, we couldn’t resist the chance to ask the veteran DB his thoughts on going up against one of his old friends.

“I’m very excited. Shout out to Emmanuel, he’s a great player. I can’t wait to tackle him. I’ll tell him to Press ‘Y.’ Ultimately, that means ‘jump.’ I’m coming at him,” Lee chuckled.

That’s a video game controller reference for those who don’t play Madden.

Defensive back TJ Lee was one of many unknown training camp hopefuls. Eight years later, he can't wait to continue to cement his Lions legacy.

Extra Yardage

Bryan Burnham iron man watch: number 16 is set to play in his 96th consecutive game, dating back to his debut with the club on September 19, 2014. Here is to many more as he approaches the century mark.

Last season, Burnham was the first Lion to lead the CFL in receptions (67) since Geroy Sumon in 2006 (105).

Kicker Sean Whyte is back home and will face his other former team here in week one. As a Lion from 2009-10, Whyte made 27 of 35 field goal attempts.

Non-drive for five: The Lions will look to finish above .500 for the first time since back in 2016 when they went 12-6 and finished second in the West Division. Since then, it has been the following: 7-11, 9-9, 5-13 and 5-9.

Two Lion newcomers to watch: safety Qunicy Mauger and halfback Tyneil Cooper. With Delvin Breaux (elbow) not available this week, look for those young guns in the secondary to do their thing.

One more tidbit on Arceneaux: he’s back on a CFL roster for the first time since 2019 with Saskatchewan. He sits 33rd all-time on the CFL receiving list with 8,418 yards. As a Lion, he sits third amongst all-time Lions.