Three things learned from the B.C. Lions’ pre-season win

It started like every pre-season game but thanks to a surprise retirement and a failed attempt to entertain there was more than enough meat on the proverbial bone to make a sandwich out of the B.C. Lions’ 42-10 pre-season win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders Friday.

Some points to ponder:

Beginning of the end: There was something unusual about the post-game locker room as there was way too much emotion being displayed by the Lions given the game’s relevance. Jason Arakgi was surrounded by his teammates, hugging one and all, game ball in hand. The CFL’s career special teams tackling leader had just announced his retirement. The timing had the look of a decision by a 10-year CFL veteran who had just realized he didn’t want to go through another season but also seemed odd because Arakgi had just called it quits after finishing another set of two-a-day workouts and three weeks of training camp.

In fact, the 32-year-old had decided only on Thursday to take a job offer with a medical equipment sales company, Stryker Medical, and made a career move virtually on the spot.

“It was that time in my career. I can’t thank this organization enough. It’s been such a blessing to be here for 10 years. It broke my heart saying goodbye to these guys and football. I’ll never forget all the things I’ve learned since I’ve been here,” Arakgi said.

“It’s not the most ideal situation to go through a training camp. It was about giving the Lions as much notice as possible. I might not have been the best football player to walk around but I truly have one of the biggest hearts. I truly love the guys and I hope they remember that about me.”

It’s occasionally around this time of year when teams are faced with making a hard call on a veteran but the decision by Arakgi leaves the Lions with an unexpected dilemma. The player most likely to benefit from the retirement is first-year SFU product Jordan Herdman, but the Lions are losing a supreme locker-room presence after already punting Ryan Phillips during the off-season.

“I don’t think people realize the impact Jason has in the locker-room. Selfishly speaking, I told him I was upset with him,” said linebacker Solomon Elimimian, grinning. “He’s a Hall of Famer in my opinion. It’s going to be tough without him.”

Slaying the dragon: For two years a sack by defensive lineman Craig Roh brought out a signature response that apparently didn’t offend anyone, when he would pull out a mythical sword in a manner familiar to King Arthur.

In his first game of his third season, Roh found out political correctness has been redefined to the absurd. Roh was penalized following sacks on successive plays and vowed to ask the league and CFLPA why the move was suddenly disallowed.

Boris Velcic, a league supervisor, told reporters that Roh was flagged for simulating the use of a weapon. Roh was incredulous after the game.

“I completely disagree with this. I’ve been building a great dance around this. It’s not malicious. It’s an imaginary sword. We just need to get out of this politically-correct mantra we’re in right now. We’re leaning too far the other way,” he said.

“Can you say the violence of it will somehow go into a deep psychological crevice in someone’s mind, and a school gets shot up? The majority of people have the capacity to understand that its an imaginary sack dance that nobody needs to freak out about.”

It turned out to be anything but an ordinary pre-season game, indeed.

The real story: Lost amid everything else was the fact the three B.C. defensive ends combined for four sacks and offered hope the Lions can get pressure from their front four and not rely on applying heat from their linebackers, as had become the norm.

“We got a ridiculous defensive line,” said Roh, who figures to line up alongside returnees Mich’ael Brooks and Bryant Turner, along with newcomer DeQuin Evans. “Coming into my third year I feel like I’m really growing as a player. You really can’t single in on one guy.”

Quarterback Jon Jennings was on point, engineering three first-half scoring drives with first-unit players surrounding him. B.C also produced 21 points off turnovers. The Lions only had a league-low nine interceptions last year.

The only question left for the Lions to ponder was whether free agent kicker Swayze Waters will be ready to start the season. Waters is dealing with quad tendinitis and was limited Friday to kicking converts and could start the season on the injured-list. Rookie Ty Long (Alabama-Birmingham), who connected on two-of-three field goal attempts, could start the season as the surprise starter, just like Arakgi ended exhibition play with a surprise of his own.

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (179 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

13 Comments on Three things learned from the B.C. Lions’ pre-season win

  1. The Roh calls were ridiculous. Especially since it was learned the officiating crew talked about in their pregame notes, but didn’t bother to inform Roh. It’s a harmless gesture, and he always runs away from the pack before he does it. You’re whole d-line can somersault, but you can’t do a sword/knight type gesture. Guess we should ban Game of Thrones as well. Lighten up CFL.

    • Totally agree. I am an odd duck in that I do not like TD dances and sack dances. I think it is more intimidating to the other team if you do not make it seem like a big deal that you did your job. Tom Wilkinson told me once that they did not like doing TD dances but instead had the attitude it was nothing and watch us do it again. Personally, anything more than a hand-shake or high 5 on the way back to the bench is too much for me. I was not even a fan of Geroy’s superman pose except for the fact I learned he did it for his son one game but it kept on.

      Having said that, we are going crazy with this political correctness stuff. It’s not like Craig was standing over the QB and mocking him. As you said, he runs away from the pack and has his back to it. As far as sack dances go, relative to the others that are allowed, his is certainly not over the top. To call that a “weapon” is like calling a tap on the shoulder ‘assault’. The fact is was discussed but no one was informed makes it seem more like a witch hunt. I love the CFL but that makes it seem bush league.

      Can you imagine the NHL, who the CFL seems to be afraid to go up against in the spring, leading to meaning less games in June and a National Championship in cold and snow, came up with rules during the offseason but did not tell the players. Can you imagine them just start calling penalties because of a pregame chat but no one knew that were going to call it. What a farce.

  2. RalphInTheCreek // June 17, 2017 at 9:16 am //

    There’s trouble in Rider City and it starts with Jones.

  3. mrnehnehincognito // June 17, 2017 at 9:27 am //

    Bc is looking very good

  4. BigRedMachine // June 17, 2017 at 9:53 am //

    A lot of receivers do a bow and arrow routine when they gain a first down. Is that outlawed too? Lighten up CFL!

    • mrnehnehincognito // June 17, 2017 at 11:20 am //

      Yeah that’s a sign this country has gone way too far in political correctness. It’s probably a CFL office employee, liberal, fresh out of school with a physiology degree who came in with that rule

  5. Judge Jones // June 17, 2017 at 10:51 am //

    And the Greens are very conspicuous by their absence

    • mrnehnehincognito // June 17, 2017 at 11:24 am //

      Maybe they’re all coming to terms with it and will comment later. When you’ve spent the last 6 month convinced you’re going to be great the reality can set in with an emotional thump

  6. Scottsask // June 17, 2017 at 11:48 am //

    The penalty to Roh was absurd.

  7. OilRider // June 17, 2017 at 11:58 am //

    Didn’t get a chance to watch the game, but that penalty on the sack celebration is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Let the man dance!

    I don’t have anything to say about the rest of the article, mostly cuz I’m a Rider fan and don’t care about what’s happening with BC’s kicking game.

    On a side note, I’m actually kind of impressed that The Troll didn’t try to blame that celebration penalty on Chris Jones somehow

  8. mrincomprehensible // June 17, 2017 at 2:38 pm //

    Did anyone count the number of car manufacturers running commercials? Come on this is preseason. What is with Jones anyway? And did you see Murano (I think it was) cut over to the far left lane and run through that puddle splashing the cyclists on the walk. Got to be some fines there. Jones should have cut some of those commercials by now. And than there was Glen Suitor with all his buttons done up on his jacket. Jones should know you always leave the bottom one undone. No jacket etiquette. When will the riders learn??

  9. mrincomprehensible // June 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm //

    Watch next game, if not cut murano will do it again!!

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