The B.C. Lions are looking to snap a five-game losing skid this weekend, but the task will be tough as they go up against one of the league’s top teams. BC Lions quarterback Mike Reilly (13) throws against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

B.C. Lions preach finish, toughness against ferocious Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The Lions’ next opportunity to change their fortune is while hosting Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Despite a tough start to the season, Bryan Burnham says the B.C. Lions are still in good spirits — albeit with a bit of an edge.

The Lions (1-8) have yet to win a game in Vancouver this season, but the mood in the locker room is still “loose and fun” with a serious over tone, the wide receiver said.

“At the end of the day, you wake up and you’re playing a game for a living that pays the bills. So I wake up with a smile on my face and I’m excited to come to work every day,” Burnham said Friday.

“But at the same time, we’re 1-8. If we continue this trend, some of us aren’t going to be waking up with jobs.”

The Lions’ next opportunity to change their fortune comes Saturday when they host the East Division-leading Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-2).

The two teams faced off just two weeks ago, with the Lions giving up a 15-point fourth-quarter lead en route to the Ticats’ 35-34 win.

Finishing strong has been an issue for B.C. all season and quarterback Mike Reilly said he simply wants his squad to consistently play good football.

“It’s not going to be the whole 60 minutes that you’re going to play a perfect game,” he said. “But when things start to go bad, they can’t be catastrophic. And you’ve got to find a way to flip the momentum quickly,” he said.

“None of the first 57 minutes matter if you can’t finish it in the last three.”

While B.C. has repeatedly held leads heading into the final frame, the team will go into Saturday’s contest on a five-game losing skid.

Part of the issue has been that players are trying to do too much in the final moments, said head coach DeVone Claybrooks, adding that the problem was particularly acute during the game in Hamilton.

“I mean, they didn’t do anything different in the fourth quarter than they did in the first,” he said. ”It’s just that we were trying to press to make the game changing, winning play that’s going to be on (TV), that type of thing instead of just making the tackles and moving methodically.”

The Ticats come into Saturday’s game after posting a convincing 21-7 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks last weekend.

Coach Orlondo Steinauer said he liked the way Hamilton’s defence was flexible in the win.

“The game plan is one thing, but then there’s the game within the game, making adjustments along the way and then the players executing,” he told reporters this week. ”And I thought all three of those things we did at a high level.”

Strong defence has been a challenge for B.C. all year. The team leads the CFL in sacks allowed with Reilly having been brought down 36 times in the first nine games.

Despite the hits he’s suffered this season, the 34 year old remains one of just two starting quarterbacks in the league to not have been brought down by an injury so far this year. The other is Edmonton’s Trevor Harris.

Reilly suffered an ankle injury when the Lions played the Ticats back on Aug. 10, but returned to practice two days later.

“We’ve gone nine more regular season games to go and I don’t think anyone in the league feels physically great,” he said on Friday. ”But that’s just part of your job, to come out and play regardless of how physically beat up you feel or don’t feel.”

Reilly’s mentality has provided a strong example for the rest of the Lions, Claybrooks said.

“The toughness definitely trickles down and it definitely holds other guys accountable when they have little knicks and bruises,” the coach said.

“This guy can come and we’ve seen some of the hits that he’s taken and the ankle injury and those type of things and he’s out there the next day. It definitely makes the other guys say ‘Well, if Mike’s out there, I’ve definitely got to be out there.’ So it brings some more toughness to the whole group, for sure.”

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS (7-2) AT B.C. LIONS (1-8)

Saturday, B.C. Place

ROSTER MOVES: Hamilton’s Luke Tasker will miss Saturday’s contest after being placed on the one-game injured list. The veteran receiver has 292 receiving yards on 26 catches through seven games this season. Jalin Marshall will take over Tasker’s spot in the starting lineup.

HISTORY BOOKS: This season marks B.C.’s worst start since 1996. The last time the Lions began the year 1-9 was 1969, when they finished with a 5-11 record.

MILESTONE WATCH: Reilly is just 224 passing yards short of 30,000 in his CFL career.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 82’s first week of in-person class is in the books

First classes held since schools closed March 17 due to COVID-19 pandemic

Skeena Valley Farmers Market looks to reopen

Market switched to online format earlier this year in response to pandemic

Two per cent hotel tax coming to Terrace and Thornhill

Tax comes into effect on Sept. 1, will support Kermodei Tourism

‘Busier than we’ve ever seen’: Mountain biking around Terrace jumps

Terrace Off Road Cycling Association opened new trails on June 2

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Facing changes together: your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read