Injured Esks give Cats redemp­tion op­por­tu­nity

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DEAN BEN­NETT

ED­MON­TON — The Eski­mos’ bid to stay per­fect in 2017 will be put to the test Friday against the des­per­ate, win­less Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats, given Ed­mon­ton must do it while deal­ing with a tsunami of in­juries that has side­lined 15 starters.

Friday they take the field with a new kicker, a new long snap­per and a new start­ing run­ning back.

The Esks have 18 play­ers on the six-game in­jury list and two on the one-game. Mid­dle line­backer J.C. Sher­ritt and first-string run­ning back John White are done for the year and re­ceiver Adar­ius Bow­man out with a ham­string in­jury.

They lost six play­ers alone in last week’s 37-26 win over the B.C. Lions, in­clud­ing kicker Sean Whyte, long snap­per Ryan King, safety Neil King, and start­ing run­ning back Travon Van.

Van took over af­ter White went down with a sea­son-end­ing knee in­jury. LaDar­ius Perkins, a five­foot-eight high-speed can­non­ball coming off the prac­tice ros­ter, will now get his shot in the back­field.

Hugh O’Neill, who kicked for Ed­mon­ton for a cou­ple of years un­til he was cut in early 2015, signed last week just be­fore Whyte went down against B.C. with a hip in­jury.

Levi Stein­hauer takes over for Ryan King at long snap­per.

On pa­per, Friday’s game is a grue­some mis­match be­tween two teams that book­end the CFL.

The Ti­cats have just five of­fen­sive TDs this sea­son and are av­er­ag­ing just 18 points a game while giv­ing up a league-worst 40.2 points per game. They’re also man­ag­ing a spate of in­juries, in­clud­ing six play­ers in the de­fen­sive back­field.

On the plus side, they’re just four points out of a play­off spot and were set to beat Ed­mon­ton two weeks ago un­til Eskimo quar­ter­back Mike Reilly en­gi­neered a last minute 75yard touch­down drive for a nail-biter 31-28 win.

Reilly was asked how a team comes back from a 60-1 loss.

“I’m sure that they just flush it,” he said. “You just kind of let that one go be­cause it’s a one-off.”

He said the record doesn’t re­flect a Hamil­ton team that has played well against some of the top CFL teams so far in 2017.

“That’s what we’re ex­pect­ing: a hard-fought foot­ball game.”

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