As soon as he got back to the locker room after the Edmonton Elks defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 36-27 in CFL Week 15 action at Mosaic Stadium in Regina last week, Mark Korte checked his phone.
Messages. Alerts. The veteran Elks offensive lineman kept scrolling until he found what he was looking for, the score from the Canada West university football game happening simultaneously just a couple hours up the Trans-Canada at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon:
Alberta Golden Bears 26, Saskatchewan Huskies 22. Final.
“We had a good little celebration in the locker room in Saskatchewan, not only after we won but then again when we found out after the Bears won,” says Korte, who is one of four University of Alberta products playing for the Elks, along with fellow offensive lineman Cole Nelson, and linebackers Josiah Schakel and Jake Taylor.
“The U of A guys were all pretty excited,” continues Korte. “We keep a close eye on it and it’s just awesome to see them win.”
After going into Griffiths Stadium, one of toughest places for visiting teams to play in U Sports football, and stunning the U of S, then the nation’s No. 3-ranked team and two-time defending Uteck Bowl champs, the Golden Bears are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2005.
“They’re doing really well,” says Korte. “It’s awesome to see where they’ve come from and where they are now, really having some success and turning into a team to beat that’s going to contend in the playoffs. I know they’ve got a long way to go to get to where their goal is, but they’re on the right track.”
Korte, who has evolved into one of the top Canadian O-linemen over his five CFL seasons, played for the Golden Bears from 2014 to 2017. When the Spruce Grove native started his university football career, Alberta was coming off consecutive 0-8 seasons; in his final season of university football, Alberta made the postseason for the first time in seven years.
“We had some good years there, made the playoffs once,” Korte says of his four seasons playing for the Golden Bears. “It was in the early stages of that rebuild and trying to get things off the ground. We had some really good players and I think we started something that has taken some to build and now it’s starting to pay off.”
The Bears are coached by Chris Morris, a former offensive lineman with the Green and Gold who won the Grey Cup in 1993, 2003, and 2005, and is enshrined on the Wall of Honour. Now in his 10th season, Morris has guided the Golden Bears to a 13-12 record over their last 25 regular season contests, Alberta’s longest stretch of games with a record above .500 since the mid-2000s.
“He works as hard as anybody, so current players and former players, we’re all grateful to him and proud of what he’s done there,” Korte says. “It’s awesome to see his work pay off, and see his patience pay off, and the university’s patience pay off. They started 3-0 in an 8-game season so they’re on a good track and everyone’s just happy to see that.”
Clash of the Campuses ⚔️
Get your tickets now ⬇️
— Edmonton Elks (@GoElks) September 19, 2023
There will be hundreds of University of Alberta students at Commonwealth Stadium for Campus Clash when the Elks host the B.C. Lions tonight (Sept. 22). Edmonton will be going for a three-game win streak of its own, and fifth victory in the last six games.
Meanwhile, at the same time in Vancouver, the Golden Bears will be battling the UBC Thunderbirds at Thunderbird Stadium in a match-up of unbeaten teams with sole possession of first place in the Canada West football standings on the line.
The Bears kickoff at 6:00 p.m. PT, meaning their game will be ending around 10:00 p.m. Edmonton time. The Elks kickoff at 7:30 p.m. MT, and should be getting off the field at about 10:30 p.m.
“We’ll keep an eye on them for sure,” Korte says of his alma matter, “and one of the first things when I open up my phone after the game will be checking how the Bears did.”
CAMPUS CLASH GAME
Be there for Friday Night Football, when the Edmonton Elks battle the BC Lions on Sept. 22 at Commonwealth Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Being part of the action has never been more affordable, with tickets starting at just $15. Click here to get your tickets now and be part of the tradition.
Elks Football…Our Team. Our City.