CFL Pass

Eskimos clinch first place

Part two of my second CFL doubleheader weekend of the season ended with the Edmonton Eskimos clinching first in the West after a 40-22 win over the Montreal Alouettes. Now every playoff spot is occupied with only first in the East yet to be decided.

This doubleheader was *a lot* colder than the Labour Day road trip, too – they were singing *Christmas songs* at halftime. It’s that time of year already?! It was only 1° Celsius by the time the game ended ... I think my toes have finally thawed out.

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Though the Commonwealth faithful raised over $16,000 for Santas Anonymous, neither the Esks nor the Als were in giving moods on Sunday. Both teams have extremely aggressive, hard-hitting defenses, and it looked like Kevin Glenn could lead the Als to victory before a Dexter McCoil interception in the second half tilted the momentum into Edmonton’s favour.

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Doesn’t that just look cold?

Interim head coach (and seemingly permanent general manager) Jim Popp was unable to make the trip due to a case of vertigo, and his absence has been fueling a big rumour.

Wouldn’t that be something?

Derel Walker was, without a doubt, the story of the game though. He had 11 catches for 127 yards and three scores putting his season totals up to 89 catches (a CFL record for rookies), 1,110 yards and six touchdowns in just 12 games – *great* numbers for players that are able to play a full 18 games, never mind 12.

The win clinches first place for Edmonton for the first time since 2003, when they won the Grey Cup by downing the Montreal Alouettes. Calgary and BC will battle in the West semifinal (and next week) for the chance at a date with the Esks at Commonwealth Stadium, a place where they’ve only lost once this season.

Meanwhile in the East division, it all comes down to next week. Ottawa and Hamilton hadn’t played all season long to this point so these final two weeks are very reminiscent of 1972, when Ottawa and Hamilton battled in the East final. In that time, the East final was played over two games and the team with the most aggregate points would make it to the Grey Cup. Ottawa won the first game 19-7 but lost the second 23-8, making the final score 30-28 to Hamilton.

This year, after grinding out a 12-6 win, Ottawa will need to win (or lose by less than 6) to finish first in the East after finishing last just a year ago. By 7 o’clock Eastern time on Saturday night, we will know exactly what the Grey Cup playoffs will look like…

– written by Travis Currah