The B.C. Lions are looking to snap a five-game losing skid this weekend, but the task will be tough as they go up against one of the league’s top teams. BC Lions quarterback Mike Reilly (13) throws against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The B.C. Lions are looking to snap a five-game losing skid this weekend, but the task will be tough as they go up against one of the league’s top teams. BC Lions quarterback Mike Reilly (13) throws against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

B.C. Lions preach finish, toughness against ferocious Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The Lions’ next opportunity to change their fortune is while hosting Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Despite a tough start to the season, Bryan Burnham says the B.C. Lions are still in good spirits — albeit with a bit of an edge.

The Lions (1-8) have yet to win a game in Vancouver this season, but the mood in the locker room is still “loose and fun” with a serious over tone, the wide receiver said.

“At the end of the day, you wake up and you’re playing a game for a living that pays the bills. So I wake up with a smile on my face and I’m excited to come to work every day,” Burnham said Friday.

“But at the same time, we’re 1-8. If we continue this trend, some of us aren’t going to be waking up with jobs.”

The Lions’ next opportunity to change their fortune comes Saturday when they host the East Division-leading Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-2).

The two teams faced off just two weeks ago, with the Lions giving up a 15-point fourth-quarter lead en route to the Ticats’ 35-34 win.

Finishing strong has been an issue for B.C. all season and quarterback Mike Reilly said he simply wants his squad to consistently play good football.

“It’s not going to be the whole 60 minutes that you’re going to play a perfect game,” he said. “But when things start to go bad, they can’t be catastrophic. And you’ve got to find a way to flip the momentum quickly,” he said.

“None of the first 57 minutes matter if you can’t finish it in the last three.”

While B.C. has repeatedly held leads heading into the final frame, the team will go into Saturday’s contest on a five-game losing skid.

Part of the issue has been that players are trying to do too much in the final moments, said head coach DeVone Claybrooks, adding that the problem was particularly acute during the game in Hamilton.

“I mean, they didn’t do anything different in the fourth quarter than they did in the first,” he said. ”It’s just that we were trying to press to make the game changing, winning play that’s going to be on (TV), that type of thing instead of just making the tackles and moving methodically.”

The Ticats come into Saturday’s game after posting a convincing 21-7 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks last weekend.

Coach Orlondo Steinauer said he liked the way Hamilton’s defence was flexible in the win.

“The game plan is one thing, but then there’s the game within the game, making adjustments along the way and then the players executing,” he told reporters this week. ”And I thought all three of those things we did at a high level.”

Strong defence has been a challenge for B.C. all year. The team leads the CFL in sacks allowed with Reilly having been brought down 36 times in the first nine games.

Despite the hits he’s suffered this season, the 34 year old remains one of just two starting quarterbacks in the league to not have been brought down by an injury so far this year. The other is Edmonton’s Trevor Harris.

Reilly suffered an ankle injury when the Lions played the Ticats back on Aug. 10, but returned to practice two days later.

“We’ve gone nine more regular season games to go and I don’t think anyone in the league feels physically great,” he said on Friday. ”But that’s just part of your job, to come out and play regardless of how physically beat up you feel or don’t feel.”

Reilly’s mentality has provided a strong example for the rest of the Lions, Claybrooks said.

“The toughness definitely trickles down and it definitely holds other guys accountable when they have little knicks and bruises,” the coach said.

“This guy can come and we’ve seen some of the hits that he’s taken and the ankle injury and those type of things and he’s out there the next day. It definitely makes the other guys say ‘Well, if Mike’s out there, I’ve definitely got to be out there.’ So it brings some more toughness to the whole group, for sure.”

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS (7-2) AT B.C. LIONS (1-8)

Saturday, B.C. Place

ROSTER MOVES: Hamilton’s Luke Tasker will miss Saturday’s contest after being placed on the one-game injured list. The veteran receiver has 292 receiving yards on 26 catches through seven games this season. Jalin Marshall will take over Tasker’s spot in the starting lineup.

HISTORY BOOKS: This season marks B.C.’s worst start since 1996. The last time the Lions began the year 1-9 was 1969, when they finished with a 5-11 record.

MILESTONE WATCH: Reilly is just 224 passing yards short of 30,000 in his CFL career.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Heavy flows of water pooled on Davis Road after a lead to a fire hydrant burst on Thursday Jan. 21. (Jim Tredwell photo)
Fire hydrant connection burst at Davis Road and Battie Drive

Crews worked well into the night on Thursday Jan. 21 to staunch the flow of water

A pedestrian was transported to hospital after being struck while crossing Roberts Street. (Cole Schisler photo)
Pedestrian struck crossing Roberts Street

The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with police

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read