VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 25: The Toronto Argonauts play the BC Lions in their CFL game at BC Place June 25, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/BC Lions)
They have locked up both a Western playoff berth and are assured of a winning season; neither of which had happened for the franchise since 2016. But if you think Garry Peters and the 2022 BC Lions are ready to pop regular season champagne Major League Baseball style, you would be sadly mistaken.
As they prepare for a Saturday road showdown against the Eastern Division leading-Toronto Argonauts, Peters and the Lions are looking to keep the momentum rolling and finish as high as they can with four games remaining on the schedule.
“For us to be heading to the playoffs again is a great feeling and I’m thankful for it, but we’re not just taking it as we’ve had some success and finally made it,” explained Peters this week.
“We want to win as many games as possible, so for us, it’s one game at a time. We want to secure home field advantage and if we can, secure the number one seed and if we don’t, we’ll win wherever we need to go.”
For those scoring at home, first place is still within reach. The Lions simply would need to win its remaining four contests. For now, we’ll just focus on sinking the Boatmen on Saturday.
Another great aspect of this 2022 version of the squad is that it has dealt with injuries at virtually every key position. In the secondary, that has included the loss of veterans TJ Lee and Delvin Breaux for various stretches. Peters has been a model of consistency as he leads the squad with five interceptions.
Injuries have enabled the likes of Jalon Edwards-Cooper and Quincy Mauger to step in and play big roles, while Loucheiz Purifoy has been a moving piece on the chess board filling in admirably at safety and SAM linebacker. Peters has been impressed with how the entire unit has responded.
“The guys upstairs have done a great job of bringing in good talent this year,” added the former Clemson Tiger.
“All of the young guys are just as hungry as the older guys. Everybody I’ve been around; they feel like they’re better than us. When you have that mindset as a rookie coming out here and competing every day, that’s a great thing to have. I feel they’ve been getting better week in and week out, just learning the system, learning the CFL game and the day-to-day. A lot of those young guys usually hit a wall by now, but the guys we brought in have been hungry since camp. It’s showing now as we get later in the season.”
All of that depth will be put to the test against an Argonauts team looking to bounce back from a lacklustre 29-2 loss in Calgary last week. Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson has some solid weapons at his disposal from team-leading receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (836 yards), DaVaris Daniels and the always-explosive Brandon Banks, just to name a few.
“That’s a big challenge,” added Peters.
“Banks has done it for a long time. He’s as fast as it gets out there. Gittens is one of the up-and-coming Canadian talents, so we know we can’t simply look at their last game and take it easy on them. We know the type of talent they have and we look forward to matching up against them. You always want to play against the best. I want to come out on the strong side.”
One more win is another big step toward achieving the next goal of securing a home playoff date.
BC Lions (10-4-0) at Toronto Argonauts (8-6-0)
Saturday, October 8th
1:00 pm, BMO Field
TV: TSN, ESPN2
Radio: AM730, Lions Audio Network, Sirius XM 167 Canada Talks
Season Series: The Lions are going for the sweep after crushing the Boatmen 44-3 back in week three on June 25th at home.
— BC LIONS (@BCLions) October 7, 2022
3 Lions To Watch
#13 WR- Alexander Hollins– makes his Lion debut in place of Lucky Whitehead who will get the week to heal from an ankle injury suffered against Ottawa. Hollins suited up in four regular season contests with the Minnesota Vikings in 2019 and spent some time with the Cleveland Browns the following season.
#24 RB- James Butler- with 100-plus yard performances in each of the last two Lion wins, Butler is demonstrating the offence can be more versatile with a stout run game. As the weather gets cooler, look for JB to become more of a factor.
#1 DB- Garry Peters– with a team-leading five interceptions, Peters has reached a whole new level this season and will get a good test in the secondary against those Argonaut weapons mentioned above.
Vernon Adams Jr. recorded the seventh 300-plus yard passing game last week to give him seven for his career. Three of those 300-yard games have come against the Argonauts.
Other than the Hollins for Whitehead swap, the only other lineup change comes on defence where Adrian Greene (knee) will sit this one out. Rookie offensive lineman Noah Zerr returns as a backup guard. The Argonauts are without two of their best defensive players in this one: defensive lineman Shane Ray (bicep) and linebacker Wynton McManis (knee) suffered their injuries in Calgary last week.
The Lions’ magic number to clinch at least second place and a home playoff game is three: any combination of Lion wins and losses by Calgary adding up to that number would assure the Lions of starting the playoffs at home. The Stampeders have a bye this week before hosting Hamilton on October 14th. They finish with two games against Saskatchewan.
With a 5-1- record on the road, this Lions team has the chance to surpass the franchise-best mark of 7-1-1 away from home in 2007. After this one, the remaining road games are on October 21st in Edmonton and October 28th in Winnipeg.
Team historian Steve Daniel expanded on the increased production for Butler out of the backfield. From games 1-11, the running back averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Over the last three contests, he has averaged 5.8.
The Lions have had three games decided by four points or less this season and have won all three. Last season, they had lost both such contests.
The Argonauts are playoff bound in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2012-13. They entered this week two points ahead of Montreal for top spot on the East Division. Those two teams will also meet in a home-and-home series to conclude the regular season: October 22nd in Toronto and October 29th in Montreal.