It's another rebuilding year for the once upon a time monsters of the west, the Eric Tillman era gets its first full season underway with opening day, as the Eskimos GM strives to put his stamp on a team that once was synonymous with success.
There have been a few lean years in Northern Alberta in recent seasons, the Esks struggling to bring back the swagger to the old days of the City of Champions eras, the steps that fans hope lead back to those days get under this season, and while there won't be instant success, the foundation is no doubt being put in place to once again challenge the remainder of the Esks West division rivals.
The task of leading the Esks down the field once again falls to Ricky Ray who Esks fans hope will return to launching some missiles down the field rather than scrambling to stay alive. For a bit of extra back up for the Eks, Tillman has brought in veteran Kerry Joseph, who will help provide some stability at the QB spot and provide as a helpful second tutor for the up and coming QB ranks.
The key addition however of the year is that of Kavis Reed, who left Winnipeg to take over as head coach after the departure of Richie Hall who returned to Saskatchewan in the off season.
Reed will bring his vast knowledge of defensive styles and schemes with him, providing a focal point for an Eskimos team that in the last few years has been rather weak in that department.
The key for the Eskimos and their fans for that matter however, will be to take things slow, developing a sense of winning again, recovering from mistakes that in the past few years have led to some serious troubles on the field.
It’s doubtful that they’ll get to the Grey Cup this year and maybe not next, but Tillman can build football teams, something he has proven from BC, to Toronto and on into Saskatchewan.
Edmonton has long been one of the strongest of franchises in the CFL, one with a passionate fan base and one which had grown used to success.
For those fans, it may yet be another tough season, but progress we imagine will be seen.
Some of the previews from across the media that cover the CFL season can be found below: