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'I felt disgusted:' Elks DB Gainey ready to move on from lopsided season-opening loss

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks aren’t thinking about the pomp and circumstance that comes with a home opener.
Edmonton Elks quarterback Nick Arbuckle, front left, is sacked by B.C. Lions' Sione Teuhema during the second half of CFL football game in Vancouver, on Saturday, June 11, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks aren’t thinking about the pomp and circumstance that comes with a home opener.

They’re not thinking about the special atmosphere that comes to a CFL stadium when the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their legion of travelling fans come to town.

No, all they’re thinking about is erasing the stink from last week’s season-opening 59-15 blowout loss at B.C.

"I felt disgusted, I felt embarrassed and, quite frankly, I’m just ready to get out there so I can play again and have another opportunity,” said Elks defensive back Ed Gainey.

Gainey racked up 21 interceptions over four seasons with the Roughriders before joining the Elks in the off-season.

Going up against his old team should be a great storyline for Saturday night’s game at Commonwealth Stadium. But, when asked about it, Gainey focused instead on how much the Elks need to improve.

“Honestly, right now, I can’t even focus on (the Saskatchewan rivalry) as an individual," he said "Last time we went out as a team, we got embarrassed, so I’m just looking to build on getting better from last week; having the defence, the front end, the back end, just coming together and playing 12-man football instead of being a lot of individual pieces out there.

"I mean, as much as I’d like to make it about Saskatchewan, I’m here now, and I have obligations to this organization to come help them win.”

While the Elks were trounced in week one, the Riders were impressive in a 30-13 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Riders allowed a paltry 26 yards of rushing and forced the Tiger-Cats into five turnovers.

Meanwhile, Elks quarterbacks Nick Arbuckle and Tre Ford threw a total of four interceptions in the loss to the Lions.

"They’re a good football team, don’t get it twisted," Elks general manager, head coach and defensive coordinator Chris Jones said of the Riders. "I mean, Hamilton is a good football team, and Hamilton really struggled with them offensively.

"They played really good defence, and they’re always going to play really good special teams. They’re tremendously athletic, and I thought Cody (quarterback Cody Fajardo) did a real nice job managing the game."

Despite the lopsided loss in week one, Fajardo told reporters in Regina that he was expecting a stiffer challenge from the Elks at Commonwealth Stadium.

"You always want to go against his defence, because he tries to throw you different looks, and you see how much you know as a quarterback. There’s a lot of things you’ll see against a Chris Jones defence that you normally don’t see on a week-to-week basis," he said.

Fajardo may lose a favourite target in receiver Duke Williams, who is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game after suffering an ankle injury in practice. Williams, a former star receiver for the Elks, caught five balls for 58 yards in the Riders’ win over Hamilton.

As for the Elks’ four-headed quarterbacking monster, the depth chart shows that Arbuckle will start the game under centre, with Ford and Locksley waiting in the wings. Taylor Cornelius, who finished the 2021 season as the starter while Arbuckle waited in the wings, isn’t on the depth chart and is listed as a healthy scratch on the team’s injury report.

“Every single week, whether you win or lose, there’s going to be personnel (changes),” said Jones. “It’s not going to be wholesale changes; you’re going to look at the next matchup you have, the next game that you have, and see who’s going to help you better your football team.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2022.

Steven Sandor, The Canadian Press