EDMONTON – Coming off a hard-fought, defensive 18-17 road win over the nationally ranked Regina Rams last Friday night, the 1-1 Alberta Golden Bears return to Foote Field for a clash with the 1-1 Manitoba Bisons this Friday night.
Kickoff for the Week 3 tilt is set for 7:00 p.m. at Foote Field, with the game also available online at CanadaWest.TV.
WEEK 3 GAME NOTES
With a win on Friday, the Bears can get above the .500 mark, which would mark their first time with a winning record since the start of the 2015 season. Alberta opened 2015 with wins over Regina and Saskatchewan.
Manitoba enters Week 3 coming off a 24-10 road loss to the Calgary Dinos. They upset the then-ranked No. 4 Saskatchewan Huskies 43-19 at home in Winnipeg in Week 1 for their first win this season.
Through two weeks, the calling card for the Golden Bears has been their hyper-athletic defence. Under new defensive coordinator Greg Knox, the Bears rank second in Canada West with four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Their seven total takeaways are the most in the conference, and they are one of only three teams with a defensive touchdown this season.
Three of the Bears interceptions game in the second half against Regina, as they gave up just one point over the final two quarters in their 18-17 win.
Canada West Player of the Week
Setting the tone for the Bears strong defensive outing was first-year defensive back Wes Bookland. The former Edmonton Huskie finished the game with three key defensive plays, including an interception, pass breakup, and a fumble recovery, all in the second half.
For his efforts, he was named the Canada West Defensive Player of the Week. It was the second-straight week he earned a nod from CW, after he was named the Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 1.
Golden Bears starting pivot Brad Launhardt has completed passes with nine different players through two weeks, but his favourite target appears to be fifth-year Bear Ben Kopczynski.
Kopczynski, who converted from quarterback to receiver three seasons ago, leads the Bears with 14 catches through two weeks, while his 195 receiving yards are the most in Canada West.
Coming into this season, Kopcynzki’s career-high was the 339 yards on 25 catches he caught in 2018.
In addition, the Calgary, Alta. product has added 47 rushing yards on just three carries, including a 34-yard run in the Bears opener against Calgary.
Top 10 rankings
The Bisons enter Week 3 ranked No. 8 in the U SPORTS Top 10 rankings, down two spots from the previous week.
After beating the No. 7 Rams last week, Alberta earned an honorable mention with 77 voting points.
The last time the Bears were ranked in the national Top 10 was September 21st, 2010.
The Bisons captured wins in both of their meetings with the Bears last season, in back-to-back weeks.
Manitoba took their first meeting 37-21 at home in Winnipeg, and followed that up with a 37-27 win at Foote Field the next weekend.
The last Bears win over Manitoba came on September 29th, 2017, when Bears running back Ed Ilnicki rushed for 278 yards on 44 carries in a 36-25 Alberta win.