SURREY, B.C. — With his first win with the B.C. Lions now in the books, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is getting used to life on the West Coast.
The 29-year-old native of Pasadena, Calif. has moved into his new home and is enjoying the company of his new teammates.
“I didn’t know they were so funny,” Adams said after practice Thursday, as the 9-3 Lions prepare to host the 8-5 Calgary Stampeders at B.C. Place. “Everyone on the team, they’re always joking around, having a good time.”
But under the light mood, the Lions are all business.
“How close they are — this is why this team is so good, because they're close,” Adams said. “It’s not like the offence is over here and the defence over here. All these guys gel well, and that’s what I really love about this.”
Acquired through a trade with the Montreal Alouettes following Nathan Rourke’s foot injury on Aug. 19, Adams went 25-for-32 in the air for 294 yards and added 32 rushing yards in his first full game with B.C. last Saturday, as the Lions edged the Stampeders 31-29 in overtime at McMahon Stadium. He’s now 4-2 in his career against Calgary, but isn’t taking anything for granted as he heads into Saturday’s rematch at B.C. Place Stadium.
“They're always a good team to play against,” he said, “Their scheme, their system is always good. So you can never look over anything, no matter what happened in the past. You’ve got to play your best every time you play them because the more mistakes you make, the more opportunities they will get to score and win the game.”
Last week, Adams was 7-for-10 for 100 yards on throws to Bryan Burnham and a perfect 5-for-5 for 91 yards to Dominique Rhymes, who became the second CFL receiver this season to reach 1,000 yards, after Ottawa’s Jaelon Acklin.
Now at 1,016 yards, Rhymes needs another 40 to match his career best of 1,056 yards, set in Ottawa in 2019.
“If that 40 helps me help contribute to a win, that would be super tremendous,” he said. “But I don’t too much think about that. I just try to go out each and every play and do my best to help the team.”
For his part, Stampeders pivot Jake Maier passed for 301 yards last Saturday as the Stampeders put up 388 net yards against the stingy Lions, who have allowed a CFL-low average of just 304.1 yards of net offence per game. The B.C. defence will be bolstered by the return of defensive back and team leader T.J. Lee, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
The Stampeders will be without linebacker Cameron Judge, who was assessed a one-game suspension for violating the CFL’s code of conduct by punching B.C.’s Lucky Whitehead on the field at the end of last week’s game.
“Next man up, man,” defensive lineman Mike Rose told the Stampeders’ website.
A win on Saturday would give B.C. its first playoff berth since 2018, with five games remaining on the regular-season schedule.
“If you don’t make the playoffs, you remember what that feeling is like, so it’s a big deal to clinch a playoff spot,” said Lions head coach Rick Campbell. “We’ve got to focus on just the game and winning it. But if we were able to clinch a playoff spot, that’s a huge, huge step forward.”
Campbell doesn’t expect any of the bad blood from last week’s post-game confrontation between players from the two teams in the McMahon Stadium parking lot to carry over on Saturday.
“Every player I talked to talked about what a clean game it was,” he said. “It wasn’t one of those chippy games.
“I think we’ve moved on and I think they will too. It’s such an important game in the standings. Both teams are just too interested in winning.”
CALGARY STAMPEDERS (8-5) AT B.C. LIONS (9-3)
Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, B.C. Place
SEEKING THE SWEEP: After a 41-40 win on Aug. 13 and last week’s victory, the Lions can sweep their season series against the Stampeders with a win on Saturday. B.C.'s last victory over Calgary at B.C. Place came on June 25, 2016.
THE CENTURY MARK: On Saturday, Dave Dickenson will become the third head coach to reach 100 games with the Stampeders. He will join Wally Buono and John Hufnagel. Dickenson has a record of 68-28-2 through 99 games.
HALL OF FAME: The B.C. Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be on hand at B.C. Place following their induction ceremony earlier on Saturday. Winnipeg Blue Bombers great Doug Brown, a product of New Westminster, B.C. and a Canadian Football Hall of Famer, headlines the 2022 class.
AMATEURS RULE: Amateur players from across the province will get a chance to show their skills on the B.C. Place field as part of the Lions’ salute to amateur football.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.
Carol Schram, The Canadian Press