The 2023 CFL preseason schedule kicked off Monday with the Battle of Alberta, as the Edmonton Elks tangled with the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium.
Several Elks players looking to earn a spot on the team’s 2023 roster made an impression in a 29-24 win for the host Stampeders.
That’s all from Cowtown.#OurTeamOurCity #GoElks #CFL pic.twitter.com/hyqSmXVeqO
— Edmonton Elks (@GoElks) May 23, 2023
Edmonton quarterbacks Jarret Doege and Kai Locksley passed for 136 and 158 yards respectively, and each threw for a touchdown. Doege was 11 for 14 passing, while Locksley completed 15 of 22 pass attempts. Khalil Tate also saw action at QB for the Elks, completing four of five throws for 42 yards.
Maurice Ffrench led Edmonton’s receivers, catching 10 of 12 targets for 119 yards with a touchdown. Rapheal Leonard, who just signed with the Elks on Saturday, made seven receptions for 59 yards, while Gavin Cobb and C.J. Sims each totalled 42 receiving yards, with the former scoring a major. Shannon Brooks led Edmonton’s ground attack, carrying the ball 11 times for 72 yards.
Kicker Dean Faithfull accounted for the rest of Edmonton’s scoring, with 12 points from three field goals, two converts and a single.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Elks led 11-10 at halftime and 14-13 through 45 minutes, before the Stampeders took their first lead on a touchdown pass from Logan Bonner to Luther Hakunavanhu early in the fourth quarter. Calgary extended its lead to 29-17 before Cobb got the Elks close with a touchdown in the final minute.
Edmonton dominated the Stamps in first downs (26 to 17) and net offence (475 yards to 304). The Elks had two turnovers and turned Calgary over once.
“What we want to do as a team is start fast, accelerate through the middle and finish strong,” Brooks said in a post-game interview on 630 CHED, the radio home of the Green and Gold.
“We started fast, and there’s some things we can get better at as a team and as an offensive. We’ll get back to work tomorrow, get in the film room, see if we can clean up the details and what we can do different to get better and come out on top.”
The Elks will wrap up their preseason schedule on Saturday (May 27), when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
Firsts For Faithfull
Edmonton’s first points of the 2023 preseason were also the first points in a professional football game of any kind for Faithfull, whose 37-yard field goal attempt split the uprights early in the second quarter to give the Elks a 3-0 lead. He added a pair of 23-yard field goals in the second half.
A native of Fareham, Hampshire, England, Faithfull was Edmonton’s first round pick (second overall) in the 2023 CFL Global Draft on May 2, is quickly acclimating himself to the Canadian gridiron. The former soccer defender played NCAA Division II football at Colorado State University Pueblo.
The Ffrench Connection
Doege and Ffrench hooked up for a touchdown worthy of the big screen late in the second quarter to give the Elks an 10-3 lead.
With Edmonton lined up at the Calgary 45-yard line, Doege dropped back several yards and launched a missile to an accelerating Ffrench, who hauled the pass in mid-stride just inside the 10-yard line and sprinted into the endzone, leaving Stamps’ defensive back Kobe Williams grasping at air in a last-ditch attempt to bring down the lightning-quick Ffrench.
Halftime: The Extended Cut
Just as the teams were about to return to the field following halftime, the game was suspended due to a storm in the arena. The delay lasted more than hour before play resumed with the Elks leading 11-10 to start the third quarter.
This was the second time in less than a year that these teams have been part of a game delayed because of Mother Nature. When the Elks hosted the Stamps at Commonwealth Stadium on July 7, 2022, play was halted for more than a hour early in the third quarter because of weather, with heavy rainfall and lightning in the area.
The 2022 preseason was a nightmare for Cobb; the University of Manitoba product’s rookie season ended before it could even start when he suffered a devastating injury early in Edmonton’s victory against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, leaving the Canadian receiver sidelined for the year.
This year couldn’t have started much better for Cobb, who showed veteran-level smarts coming back to the ball to haul in a 27-yard touchdown toss from Locksley with 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Cobb caught all three of his targets Monday, and also returned two punts for 11 yards.
THE COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF IS ON
The 2023 CFL season is rapidly approaching. Be there Sunday, June 11 at Commonwealth Stadium when the Edmonton Elks open the season against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It’s the start of a summer full of family, fun and football. Being part of the action has never been more affordable, with tickets starting at just $15. Click here to get your tickets to the Home Opener and be part of the tradition.
Elks Football…Our Team. Our City.