Goal-line stand the turning point in Edmonton Eskimos win over Roughriders - Canadanewsmedia
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Goal-line stand the turning point in Edmonton Eskimos win over Roughriders

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Edmonton Eskimos' J.C. Sheritt (47) and Korey Jones (45) tackle the Saskatchewan Roughriders' Tre Mason (10) during second half CFL action at Commonwealth Stadium, in Edmonton Thursday Aug. 2, 2018. The Eskimos won 26 to 19.


David Bloom / Postmedia

Mike Reilly is used to carrying the Edmonton Eskimos on his shoulders.

Specifically, his throwing one.

But on a night when the Canadian Football League’s most accurate passer on the year was off the mark, it was the defence that shouldered the load on the way to a 26-19 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In a game that was separated by seven points in the end, it was a touchdown-denying goal-line stand by the Eskimos that made all the difference in momentum and allowed them to hold onto a slim lead heading into the final quarter.

Facing third-and-goal from the one yard-line with 2:23 left in the third, it appeared as though the Roughriders would be pulling ahead 21-17 after short-yardage quarterback David Watford ran a keeper for a touchdown.

But an automatic review by the command centre overturned the call, ruling Watford was stopped short of the goal-line.

“I thought our defence stood very tall,” said Eskimos head coach Jason Maas. “They played an extremely good football game. I think all 12 guys out there at a time did their jobs, put pressure on them. I thought they tackled well. I’m very proud.”

The tackle on Watford was credited to rookie linebacker Brandon Pittman, a six-foot-two, 236-pound North Carolina State product who earned three tackles and another on special teams after coming off the Eskimos practice squad to make his CFL debut Thursday.

It was one of two turnovers-on-downs the Eskimos defence forced on the way to winning the turnover battle 2-1.

“There were a couple times they were inside the 10 yard-line and they came away with not as many points as they probably should have,” Maas said. “Even on the goal-line stand there, we ended up giving up a safety from that, but our defence to not give up that, and even the other one, was very tight.

“They didn’t give anything up easy. You love to see that fight in your team and our defence shows that.”

And for the last five games now, the Eskimos have averaged just 20 points-against, as they improved to 5-2 in front of the 35,623 in the stands at Commonwealth Stadium who made up the league’s largest crowd of the year, so far.

“At the beginning of the week, coach Maas challenged us on defence, coach Bene (Mike Benevides, defensive co-ordinator) challenged us: We need to go out there and find an identity. We can either start off fast or we can start off slow,” said perennial all-star defensive tackle Almondo Sewell. “We came out and started off fast and aggressive and we just kept going.

“We stopped them on the goal-line the first two times. We came up big down there when I made that bone-headed play and jumped off-side for some reason. I thought I saw something that wasn’t there.”

That set the Roughriders up with a fresh set of downs on the four yard-line, only to be pushed back 10 yards by a holding call against offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte.

After completing a 13-yard pass to Tre Mason put them on the one yard-line, Zach Collaros fumbled the snap to bring in Watford for the keeper.

“J.C. (Sherritt) said, ‘The hell with it, let’s just go,’” Sewell said of his penalty. “And the guys around us rallied up and we stopped it.”

For the first time in 11 regular-season games, Reilly was more off the mark than on, completing 13 of 27 passes for a season-low 257 yards – one shy of the 258 he threw in a Week 5 win over the visiting Toronto Argonauts.

“It was a tough one tonight, for sure,” said Reilly, giving a staunch Saskatchewan defence its due. “It wasn’t one of our better games offensively, but our defence played great.

“I missed a fair amount of throws that I normally hit and that made the game tougher than it could have been.”

For their part, his defensive teammates didn’t mind picking up the slack while Reilly had just four completions to show over his first three quarters of work. In the fourth, however, he engineered a seven-play, 77-yard drive that ended in a one-yard sneak of his own for the winning touchdown.

“It’s fine. Mike’s Mike, he’s going to find a way,” Sewell said. “As you saw, he came back out there and lit it up.

“They’ve been bailing us out all year long. It’s nice to come in and you hear the defence did what we were supposed to do.”

Extra point: More than 108,000 pounds of food was collected for Edmonton’s Food Bank on Thursday through the Purolator Tackle Hunger program.

Email: gmoddejonge@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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Report: Raptors to hire former Spurs assistant video coordinator

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According to sources, and a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Toronto Raptors are planning on hiring Jeremy Castleberry, former assistant video coordinator (not assistant to the video coordinator) for the San Antonio Spurs, as their newest player development coach.

It does not take a genius to connect the dots here, but let’s do it anyway.

The Spurs run a solid professional basketball franchise with a team culture that is seen as the aspirational standard across the NBA. They hire the now 27-year-old Castleberry as their assistant video coordinator in 2013 after he’s finished playing ball at San Diego State. This, as it happens, is the same school at which noted NBA All-Star Kawhi Leonard also played his college ball. Prior to that, if you care to go back that far, Leonard and Castleberry even played basketball together in high school. Kawhi’s NBA career began in the 2011-12 season, just a bit before Castleberry joined the team. The two have been together ever since (as ESPN implies here).

Leonard, as you may have heard, has since been traded, and is in fact now a Toronto Raptor (hoo boy). He has one year left on his contract and the Raptors would very much like him to re-sign and remain in Toronto. Since Leonard agitated to have himself traded out of San Antonio, and the Raptors just hired a staffer from San Antonio, it stands to reason — even without reports coming in as such — that the two men, Kawhi and Castleberry, are in fact friends. Why else would Toronto bring in the former assistant video coordinator for the Spurs if not to try to make the situation for Leonard just that much more comfortable? (My point is, Gregg Popovich isn’t walking through that door anytime soon.)

Unlike, say, that time the Raptors signed Chris Bosh’s friend Jarrett Jack to an out-sized contract in a desperate attempt to keep the former All-Star in town, there is no down side here for the Raptors. As we’ve already established, anyone working for the Spurs is likely a decent enough hire — they’re the aspirational standard, remember — and anyone who is friendly with Kawhi only improves the chances he’d like to stick around in Toronto. On top of that, unlike handing out a $20 million contract, this hire is a decision easily undone in the event Leonard does indeed decide to leave Toronto (which to my mind is only growing increasingly unlikely).

There you have it, it’s a win-win-win for the Raptors. Welcome to Toronto, Jeremy Castleberry. You have already become the most significant player development coaching hire since…

I must admit, I’ve lost the line here and can’t even think of a proper comparison to make. Let’s leave this dot unconnected for now.

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Raptors hire Jeremy Castleberry from Spurs

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The Toronto Raptors are making moves to make Kawhi Leonard’s transition to the team a comfortable one.

According to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Raptors have hired former San Antonio Spurs video coordinator Jeremy Castleberry as a player development coach.

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Castleberry may be a familiar name, even if he’s still early on in his coaching development. Not only did Castleberry go to San Diego State University where he was a walk-on and a teammate of Leonard, the pair also played together in high school and are childhood friends. Castleberry is also said to have been Leonard’s late-night, early-morning, and offseason workout partnerRamona Shelburne of ESPN calls him one of Leonard’s “closest confidantes” and has been called Leonard’s “best friend” during the player’s dramatic 2017-18 with the Spurs, during which Castleberry was on the staff. A sociology graduate at SDSU, Castleberry has worked as an intern coach and video coordinator with the Spurs since 2013.

Obviously, this move seems aimed at appeasing Leonard and showing him how willing the franchise is to make him happy in Toronto. An earlier Raptors Republic report pegged Leonard’s friend Xavier Thames as being in the city right as he was acquired, and while there’s been no movement on that front, it wouldn’t be entirely a surprise if Thames lands an Exhibit 10 deal or be around the organization (or Raptors 905) in some capacity. The Raptors are leaving no doubt that their intention is to retain Leonard beyond this season, and small concessions like this – if it can even be viewed as that, as Castleberry is likely also very good at his job (which explains why he was still with the Spurs while Leonard was away) – are a good way to show him early on that they can be a long-term home.




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Sources: Raptors hiring Kawhi Leonard's longtime friend for coaching role

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<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="The Raptors are doing all they can to make Kawhi Leonard feel at home. (AP)” data-reactid=”17″>

The Raptors are doing all they can to make Kawhi Leonard feel at home. (AP)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="As the Toronto Raptors work to assimilate All-NBA star Kawhi Leonard, the franchise is hiring his longtime friend and former high school/college teammate Jeremy Castleberry from the San Antonio Spurs to be a player development coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports.” data-reactid=”22″>As the Toronto Raptors work to assimilate All-NBA star Kawhi Leonard, the franchise is hiring his longtime friend and former high school/college teammate Jeremy Castleberry from the San Antonio Spurs to be a player development coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Raptors acquired Leonard and Danny Green last month in a trade from the Spurs, sending a package centered around All-Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio. Leonard and Castleberry attended Martin Luther King High School in Riverdale, California, and San Diego State for two seasons.” data-reactid=”23″>The Raptors acquired Leonard and Danny Green last month in a trade from the Spurs, sending a package centered around All-Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio. Leonard and Castleberry attended Martin Luther King High School in Riverdale, California, and San Diego State for two seasons.

The Spurs hired Castleberry for a role in the video room after he graduated from SDSU in 2013. Castleberry, 27, impressed Spurs officials in his stint with the franchise, working his way into an assistant video coordinator behind coach Gregg Popovich’s bench.

For Toronto, the hiring of Castleberry is a clear move to continue to welcome Leonard and build the proper structure around the 2014 Finals MVP.

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” data-reactid=”26″>More from Yahoo Sports:
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