Monday, September 27, 2004

This weekend not all the action was on the field

It was your typical CFL weekend; the Alouettes controlled their opponent seeming to toy with the Blue Bombers throughout the game, as they continued on their path to Eastern division domination. The Bombers who are battling only the Saskatchewan Roughriders for a playoff spot must also keep their eyes on the East division standings as a crossover berth may be their one shot at making the semi finals. With Toronto starting to put some distance in the Eastern standings tracking the Tiger Cats will become a popular feature of the Winnipeg sports scene. Not many gave the Blue much of a chance against the Als and this result reflected that lack of faith as Montreal handled them handily on Saturday 47-25.

With that result recorded in the books the Blue took to the CFL trading floor and swung what amounts to a blockbuster of a deal as they moved marquee player Khari Jones and fullback Randy Bowles to Calgary in return for defensive lineman Joe Fleming, safety Wes Lysak and fullback Scott Regimbald. The Blue will also receive draft pick in the 2006 Canadian draft from Calgary. It’s hard to say one team won over the other in this one, as both teams filled a definite requirement on their rosters. Fleming will add quite a bit to the Bomber defensive attack while Jones, once he gets into a rhythm in Calgary could very well be the missing ingredient to a sputtering Calgary offence.

For the moment the advantage is certainly Winnipeg's
as they receive the most starters ready to go, but long term a healthy Khari could make a big difference in Calgary. One thing is certain this trade could come back to haunt somebody on the final game of the year, that’s when Calgary travels to Winnipeg in one month to finish off the season. The Stamps more than likely won’t be challenging for any playoff berth but Khari Jones may get to have an impact on the Bombers season, an impact the faithful at CanadInn stadium may not like!

With Scott Regimbald moving East he will have one fond memory of his final game in a Stamp uniform, his touchdown with seconds to go in the game sent the Stamps on to victory over the BC Lions as Calgary ended a horrendous slump with a controversial 22-21 victory over the Leos. Controversial in that to a man, the Lions believe that Regimbald never actually crossed the goal line and the officials botched the call and “gave” the Stamps a victory. Of course the Lions forget the missed opportunities earlier in the game to put more points on the board and the troublesome kicking game that reared its head for a bit, sending the Lions to defeat for the first time in eight games. The Calgary win finally brought down the high flying Leos and gives hope to the rest of the division that Wally Buono’s formidable squad can be shut down. It was a questionable result but that’s the nature of the game, the key is to bounce back and not lose focus on the job at hand, it will be interesting to see how the Leos address the situation.

The Lions loss was no doubt a message received in Edmonton, where the Eskimos watched as Argonaut QB Michael Bishop finally provided some consistent work in the final two quarters of play. The Argos stormed back in the second half to defeat the Esks 26-17. It was a huge win for the Argos as they put a bit of distance between themselves and the Tiger Cats in the battle for the right to host a semi final game at home. The loss provides more questions for a mysterious Eskimo team to try and answer, very hot and cold all year the Esks continue to make themselves the topic of discussion around Edmonton, not in a How about them Eskies way but for of a what the heck is with the Eskies way. With first place probably out of reach, the Esks can breathe a little bit in their bid for second but stumble too much and a retooled Winnipeg of Saskatchewan may just make the charge.

The Riders began that process with a dominating second half over the Renegades on Sunday; Henry Burris took control of the game in the second half as the Riders kept Kenton Keith and Rich Dominguez busy loading up on yardage and points in a 36-22 victory. Burris made use of his two star attractions through the third and fourth quarters as the Riders kept pace with the Bombers in the CFL’s west. Ottawa’s troubles were compounded early in the game when Demetrious Bendross was ejected for a wild fist fight with Saskatchewan DB Darnell Edwards. Edwards, who roughed up Bendross in the end zone, kept his punches to himself and was spared eviction but the hot tempered Bendross let loose with some attempted haymakers none of which really found a target.

Regardless, his lack of control cost him and his team as the Renegades never seemed to generate much in the way of offence with Bendross banished. The loss drops the Rens further off the pace in the East and puts their bid to make the playoffs in jeopardy as they continue to struggle in the latter stages of the season. The turmoil on the field was rivalled by that in the boardroom as the Rens managers, coaches, owners and shareholders fight among themselves as a most disappointing season winds its way to conclusion. As the season moved along it appeared that the two franchises that seemed to be struggling the most were Calgary and Ottawa, neither able to put many wins together and off field distractions taking their toll in the dressing room.

The Stamps have started to address some of those problems and while their changes are more for the long term, they have started the process of getting things back on track. Ottawa seems to be going in a totally different direction at the moment; until the perceived acrimony in the boardroom and in the dressing room is taken care of the Rens are going to have problems. It will be interesting to see I the names Tillman, Paopao or Etcheverry will still be in a Renegade press guide next season. With time running out on this one, there aren’t many more games left to make a stand and show that the blue print wasn’t flawed!

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