They didn’t necessarily know it at the time, but when they took the field just over 200 days ago to wrap up the 2021 regular season, the BC Lions should soon be a team in transition. Nathan Rourke was the man behind center that night, putting up a solid 300+ yards rush while going for three first-half touchdowns in a 43-10 paste to end the season on a solid note. The Victorian-born gunslinger is the undisputed number one character ushering in a new era for the franchise.
The pomp and circumstance of the off-season is over. Now is the time to get results. Everyone knows the challenge and pressure of returning to the Gray Cup playoffs for the first time since 2018.
BC Lions vs. Edmonton Elks
Saturday June 11th
7:00 p.m., BC Square
Television: TSN, ESPN+
Radio: AM730, Lions Audio Network, Sirius XM 147 Canada Talks
Season Series: The teams will meet a total of three times this season: In addition to this duel, they will face off in Vancouver on August 6th and again in Edmonton on October 21st
Rourke keeps it even
Perhaps number 12’s best trait is the fact that he doesn’t crave the limelight. Never easy for someone who’s rewritten his college program’s record books and has the rare distinction of playing quarterback with a Canadian passport. This is a guy who just wants to win soccer games. Canuck status is just a nice bonus for him and the organization.
“I’m looking forward to joining this team and getting ready to take up arms, so to speak. I’m looking forward to the environment we’re going to have and a lot of people will be happy they came out to watch us,” Rourke said in a media release on Friday.
The young quarterback believes only wins will count.
“We’re just worried about execution, not just dazzling fans. If we stick to our game plan and stick to execution, those games will be there. We have 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.”
I already speak like a true leader.
A Veteran’s Perspective
TJ Lee knows all about the excitement of a season opener. Aside from 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 east Washington pride knows that Nik Arbuckle, Manny Arceneaux and company will pose a great test, even if their 2021 record wasn’t to their liking. At the end of the day, it’s about minding their own business on defense.
“I’m sure they have great athletes. I don’t really focus on what they bring to the table,” Lee said.
“It’s about establishing our identity as a team and dictating what we want to achieve this season.”
Speaking of Arceneaux, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask the veteran DB what he thinks about going up against one of his old friends.
“I’m very excited. Call Emmanuel, he’s a great player. I can’t wait to tackle him. I tell him to press ‘Y’. Ultimately it means ‘jump’. I’m coming towards him” , Lee giggled.
This is a video game controller reference for those who don’t play Madden.
Extra barrel length
Bryan Burnham Iron Man Watch: Number 16 will play in his 96th consecutive game dating back to his debut with the club on September 19, 2014. Here are many more as he nears the century mark.
Last season, Burnham became the first Lion to lead the CFL in receptions (67) since Geroy Sumon in 2006 (105).
Kicker Sean Whyte is back at home and meets his other former team here in week one. As a 2009-10 Lion, Whyte made 27 of 35 field goal attempts.
Not driving for five: The Lions will attempt to finish over .500 for the first time since 2016 when they went 12-6 and finished second in the West Division. Since then it is as follows: 7-11, 9-9, 5-13 and 5-9.
Two Lion freshmen to watch: safety Qunicy Mauger and halfback Tyneil Cooper. With Delvin Breaux (elbow) unavailable this week, look for these young savages in secondary school to do their thing.
Another tidbit about Arceneaux: He’s back on a CFL roster with Saskatchewan for the first time since 2019. He ranks 33rd all-time on the CFL receiving list with 8,418 yards. As a Lion, he ranks third among all-time Lions.
Matt Baker: [email protected]