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Weather woes dampen CFL's West semi-final

Edmonton Eskimos' Jerome Messam (L) pushes off Saskatchewan Roughriders' Tyron Brackenridge during his 1000th yard carry in their CFL football game in Edmonton November 4, 2011. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber

Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters

It was never going to be Pismo Beach, Ab., but the weather for Sunday's CFL West Division semi-final here is a little cooler than expected.

Early forecasts for the Edmonton Eskimos-Calgary Stampeders game called for clouds and plus-4 degrees Celsius by kickoff (4:30 p.m. ET).Ninety minutes before kickoff, the temperature, with wind chill, was minus-three.

And yes, there are clouds, which mean there's a threat of precipitation. For the record, the field at Commonwealth Stadium is artificial turf.

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As for line-up changes, Edmonton running back Jerome Messam will play despite a lower-body injury. His play is critical to opening up the Eskimos passing game. Not playing for Edmonton are offensive tackle Greg Wojt (ankle) and linebacker J.C. Sherritt (ankle). The respective replacements are Devin Tyler and Mark Restelli.

The Stampeders have placed running back Joffrey Reynolds on the one-game injured listed and activated LaMarcus Coker. Malik Jackson is also back at linebacker.

---- Stampeders' quarterback Drew Tate was shown on the Jumbotron at Commonwealth Stadium, bouncing about the Calgary dressing room wearing head phones and not talking to anyone.

Tate, who is about to make his CFL playoff debut, is an admitted loner during games. On the sidelines, between offensive series, the 27-year-old Texan will talk to offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson but that's it. He likes to sit by himself on the team bench and think about the next play.

He said he's always been that way going back to his days when he was coached in high school by his dad, Dick Olin.

Olin is supposed to be at today's game, all the way from Baytown, Tex, ----

The B.C. Lions made a sad announcement Sunday. Dylan Reichelt, the son of long-time Lions' trainer Bill Reichelt, died after injuries sustained in an auto accident Saturday night. The Reichelt family has asked for privacy. Bill Reichelt had worked with the Edmonton Oilers years ago before moving to the West Coast. The Lions are off this weekend but will host next Sunday's West Division Final.

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----- What to watch in today's game:

With Devin Tyler starting at left offensive tackle for the Eskimos, he'll get a handful of Stampeder defensive ends Chris McCoy and Charleston Hughes.

Hughes is a mix of pass rusher, linebacker, cover man and is used all over the field by defensive coordinator Chris Jones.

Also, keep an eye on Calgary defensive halfbacks Quincy Butler and Brandon Smith. They'll be asked to stay with any one of the Eskimos' top three receivers, Fred Stamps, Jason Barnes and Adarius Bowman.

If the games comes down to a battle of the field goal kickers, Edmonton's Damon Duval is an experienced, Grey Cup-winning veteran. Calgary's Rene Parades is playing in his first CFL playoff game.

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Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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