June 7, 2024

GAME PREVIEW | Elks vs Roughriders – Home Opener

EDMONTON – Saturday afternoon is looking to be a historic way to kickoff season 75.

When the Elks take the field at Commonwealth Stadium at 2:00 p.m. against the Sasktachewan Roughriders, they will be doing it in the shadow of legends. Players, personnel, and family from every era of the club have gathered to support the Green and Gold as they try to reestablish their legacy of football supremacy on the field.

Elks President and CEO Rich Lelacheur says this week was a long time coming and an important one for the club.

“It’s the whole opening week for our 75th season. We wanted to do it in a big way and celebrate the past 75 seasons,” LeLacheur said. “We put together a whole plan and we felt that there is no better way than to celebrate the past by having a great number of our alumni back.”

The game will now be an afternoon affair, much to the benefit of Edmonton sports fans. With the Oilers beginning their Stanley Cup hopes at 6:00 p.m., there will be plenty of time to take in the Home Opener presented by Purolator prior to puck drop. The time change was a plan technically years in the making.

“We went through this in 2006 when they were in the Stanley cup finals, so we knew that there was a chance and we just knew we had to work to an alternative,” LeLacheur said. “Nothing wrong with the 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon start. It enabled our fans to come and see the football game and get home or get downtown, wherever they want to go or to see the Oilers play in the finals. It’ll be a great sports day for Edmonton.”

Another featured attraction for the Elks Home Opener is the first showing for the brand new Icon Jersey. The new third uniform was unveiled to great fanfare on Wednesday and alongside the ‘In The Game” 75th Badge helmet decals featuring the names of EE fans, it will be a iconic look for a historic Home Opener.


The halftime festivities for Saturday’s game will honour the special guests in attendance.

Warren Moon is arguably the most iconic figure in the history of the franchise, and one of the most iconic players in professional football history. The hall of fame quarterback is excited to take in the game and support the team that allowed him to become a superstar.

“It’s a very special feeling to be back here because this is where it all started for me, in this stadium,” Moon said. “It just brings back a lot of great memories, a lot of great winning, a lot of fun times together as younger men and the stupid things that we used to do. So, it’s great to be back.”

Another icon of the organization that will be honoured on Saturday is long-time equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak. It was announced at the Kickoff to 75 Dinner that the beloved locker room figure will be added to the EE’s Builders Wall as a foundational member of the club’s success over the decades.

“My family combining everybody on my wife’s side and my side, we have over 200 years of years working with the football club,” Mandrusiak said. “We used to jokingly say it was a family run business, but it’s in your blood. I’m very fortunate. I was certainly not big enough to play, but I think I had a little mark on the history of this organization.”

Those that have walked through the halls of the Double E’s locker room become enraptured in the proud and storied history of the organization. The desire to return the club to its former glory is strong among the former players and current personnel, and the belief is that the next steps begin on Saturday.

“I tell (people) it’s one of the most winningest organizations in CFL football,” Moon said. “I don’t know if somebody’s won more than us, but this organization means winning, and that’s what we want to try and help get it back to.”


When it comes to the on field contingent of Green and Gold on Saturday, there will be a few changes to the lineup.

Wide receiver Kyran Moore, who led the CFL in yards after catch in 2023 is out after suffering a knee injury during the practice week. In his place will be Malik Flowers, who rejoins the Elks after a brief stint with the club last season, as well as some time with the Oakland Raiders in the NFL.

The other literal and figurative large absence will be starting right tackle Brett Boyko. The 31-year-old was a stabilizing force on the Elks offensive line last season and will be replaced by veteran Hunter Steward.

Hunter Steward (#67) in Elks Training Camp

The 6-foot-6 Steward comes with a ton of veteran experience with 62 games played under his belt, helping cushion the loss on the right side.

Other important Green and Gold debuts will be: QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson first CFL game since the 2022 Grey Cup victory with the Argonauts, former NFL first-round pick DL Robert Nkemdiche gets his first CFL start at defensive tackle, and WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr. a former East Division Most Outstanding Canadian making his Elks debut.