Sunday, August 29, 2004

Eskimos with the touchdown (repeat 7 times!)

At the start things appeared to be going the Ottawa Renegades way, the Renegades taking the ball and marching down the field to open the scoring with a Touchdown, followed up by a single point when the Eskies bobbled the ensuing kick off. For a minute, it looked like the Rens were going to run rough shod over the Eskimos, but it was really only for a minute.

What followed in the rest of the game can best be described as a dissection. Edmonton was in complete control, as they sent the Rens back home shaking their heads after a 57-16 loss at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Eskimo offence was firing on all cylinders, Mike Pringle was seemingly on course to catch George Reeds touchdown record in one game, he needed six at kickoff time and by the sound of the final gun he, was two away from George. With his 114 yard day he now is only 191 yards away from Reeds other record of 16,116 yards as all time CFL rusher.

Jason Maas, still looking a little unsteady from his early season injuries, none the less had yet another spectacular performance, completing 28 of 32 passes an 80% completion ratio, for a total of 350 yards. Maas played a little pitch and catch at leisure with Jason Tucker, Derell Mitchell and Terry Vaughn, so secure is Maas, that he’s outsourcing his passing. Ed Hervey actually ended up on the stats sheet as the passer of one of Mitchell’s TD’s, putting those old college skills of his to work.

The Eskimo defence wasn’t on the field that much, and when they were the Renegades has some success but not enough to make a difference. Kerry Joseph threw 17 completions on 26 attempts for 347 yards, but tellingly gave up four interceptions in the game and was sacked three times by the charging Eskimo defence. Ottawa lost 9 points on botched field goal attempts, three times Sandro Sciortino sent the ball wide right. If the three attempts had gone through the Rens would still have been within striking distance!

In fact at the half the outcome was still very much in doubt, despite controlling the play on the field, the Esks were not that far ahead on the board at 24-16, those costly missed field goals certainly the tale of the first half.. But as the second half got rolling that would change as Maas led them down the field time and time again able to score at will. By the time the carnage was finished the Eskimos had 31 unanswered points on the board and another two points in the win column.

The win pushes the Esks into second place behind the BC Lions, while Ottawa stays mired in the basement trailing the Tiger Cats for the final playoff spot. Things do not get any easier for the Renegades, league leading Montreal is next up on the schedule Friday night at Frank Clair stadium. They need to turn things around quickly, having lost five of their last six games and watching a streaking Ti Cat team move on ahead of them.

As for the Eskimos, they travel down highway 2 to take on their Alberta rivals the Stamps on Labour Day Monday, judging by the performance of Calgary on Friday against the Ti Cats that could be a very long afternoon for the team in Red and White.

One thing is certain the CFL should send George Reed an airline ticket for
Calgary and have him standing by, Mike Pringle is closing in on those records fast, and it’s not out of the question to expect him to pass George, on both counts next week

Leos flood the good ship Argonaut

Casey Printers continued to post some impressive numbers as the BC Lions took control of the Argonauts and refused to let them into the game. Printers threw for three touchdowns and ran one in himself, as he led the Lions to a 31-10 drubbing of the Argos in front of over 29,000 fans at BC Place.

When Printers wasn’t throwing TD passes to Geroy Simon and Frank Cutolo he was handing it off to Antonio Warren, Warren making his return to Lion uniform galloped for over 100 yards, helping to keep the Argo defence off balance through the majority of the game.

Toronto started Michael Bishop for the second game in a row and his second start in his career, but playing against a far more aggressive Lions defence Bishop didn’t have the time to set up, nor was he able to read the Leos defence. The net result was an offence that could not get started and had few bright moments, the highlight reel moment for the double blue an amazing 46 yard touchdown toss to J Soward, accounting for 7 of Toronto’s ten points.

The loss was even more important with news of the Tiger Cat victory earlier in the night, the Argos now only lead the surging Cats by 2 points, with the two teams set to meet in Hamilton on Labour Day. The match up should make this Labour Day Classic a definite Big Time game, most likely giving Mr. Young another huge crowd on hand to view.

For the Lions the win solidifies their place at the top of the West, from a shaky start to the regular season Wally Buono has quickly corrected the problems and finds himself with a well developed team both on offence and defence. With Casey Printers continuing to shine, it raises an interesting dilemma for the Lions coach, what to do when Dave Dickenson returns, expected within the next two to three weeks. It’s a problem that the likes of Winnipeg, Ottawa and Calgary can only wish they had.

For their hard work the Lions receive the bye this week, with the eight other teams engaged in games with their “traditional” rivals, the Lions will watch some TV and rest up. Life is suddenly quite good on the West coast, the team is winning and the fans are coming back to the ball park. Labour Day is going to be a very good weekend for the Lions to take stock, and David Braley is gong to like the report he gets..

Saturday, August 28, 2004

A roaring good time had by almost all

When Bob Young bought the Tiger-Cats last year, taking them from the clearance shelves of the CFL basement, he probably had a little dream like Friday night. His team would come out of the dressing room and find a stadium filled with rabid Ti-Cat fans, they would respond with a convincing win and everyone would go home happy. The only thing to make it even better would be having the Argos on the receiving end, but hey, there’s got to be something left for next week.

Friday night saw the Tiger Cats entertain the first sold out Ivor Wynne crowd in six years with total domination of the Calgary Stampeders. 28,850 cheered on the Black and gold and they sent Matt Dunigans team back to cowtown with a 26-7 shellacking.

Danny McManus maintained the ball control game, as the Cats controlled play for 34 minutes compared to the Stamps who only had their hands on the ball for 26, eight minutes that told the tale on this night.

While the score may not show it, Calgary’s defence held the fort as best they could, but could not control Danny Mac’s throwing arm or Troy Davis’ legs; Davis accumulated over 100 yards on the night with his 23 carries. McManus completed a touch down pass to D. J. Flick; while Jason Lamar ran back an interception for a TD and Julian Radelin ran the ball in from the two for the final major. The Ti Cat explosion most of which happened in the first half, raised their record to 5-5 and boosted them into third place in the East and holding the final playoff spot for the moment, but more importantly putting them back into the hunt for second and targeting arch rival Toronto. It shouldn’t be too surprising to find the Ti Cats with their second consecutive sell out next Monday.

As for the Stamps all of Calgary’s points came off of the foot of Charles Hebert. Calgary used both Tommy Jones and third stringer Michael Souza during the course of the game, neither of which had a particularly stellar evening. Patience is the word being proclaimed by head coach Matt Dunigan, hoping that the duo will be given time to better understand the game. Marcus Crandell was not in the line up on Friday, suffering from an injury, he may or may not be in the line up for the Labour Day Classic with the Eskimos, rumours continue to persist that he’s on the trading block and may have a change of address in the near future. Dunigan has made no decision yet as to who will get the start for the much anticipated battle of Alberta.

The loss was Calgary’s third in a row and drops the Stamps to 2-8 so far on the year, leaving Matt Dunigan with nothing much more to do than issue apologies at the moment. Lose to the Eskies next week and he may end up having to grovel.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Big Blue left sitting in the rain

The Montreal Alouettes improved their record to 9 and 1 with a soggy 29-13 win over the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Thursday night. The Als, who couldn’t break free of the Bombers until the fourth quarter, watched the diminutive Ezra Landry deliver the final blow with a 120 yard wide field goal return, finishing off the Bomber hopes for yet another night.

Landry’s amazing return, with only six minutes left in the game, came off yet another wide Troy Westwood field goal. Taking advantage of less than intense special team coverage, Landry bobbled the ball in the end zone before blasting down the sidelines to the Bomber endzone. His return set a new Alouette record for returning wide field goals, ironically held by current Blue Bomber Keith Stokes.

The wide field goal continued to highlight the difficulties that the Winnipeg kicking game have suffered the last few years. Westwood who had engaged in a rather public spat with Alouette Ed Phillion, didn’t let his foot do the talking on a windswept, rain filled game at CanadaInn stadium. His missed field goal which resulted in that ten point swing was the definitive play in the game that featured fumbles, interceptions, incompletions and penalties making for a sloppy game in less than ideal conditions.

Unfortunately for the Bombers, who now fall to 3 and 7 on the season, a decent performance by the defence, was tossed to the sideline with the untimely return. Keith Stokes electrified the wet gathering of 22,826 with a kick return of his own for a touchdown, taking a punt back 83 yards for a touchdown and setting a Bomber record for most punt returns in a season at 3. And while he was putting points on the board, his Bomber team mates were having some problems. The Bombers managed only 1 yard of total offence in the first half, compared to 192 for Montreal. It’s a testimony to the bad weather and some strong defence that the Als couldn’t put more points on the board.

Khari Jones, who threw 8 for 16 with 56 yards, found himself on the bench in the second half as the Bombers turned things over to Kevin Glenn. Throwing completions for 6 of 11 attempts and gaining 84 yards. Neither Bomber Quarterback threw an interception.

Montreal QB Anthony Calvillo, who admitted the conditions were not very good, threw the ball 38 times, completing 17 of his passes for 277 yards, giving up one interception. Jermaine Copeland scored a TD as did Bruno Heppell as the Alouettes success in the Winnipeg end of the field. Penalties also helped to bring down the Blue; Winnipeg took 15 penalties, surrendering 113 yards to the Alouettes as the game wound down.

The Alouettes take their juggernaut off to Ottawa for a Friday Night game on the Labour Day weekend , while the Bombers try to regroup and move on to the always tough Labour Day Classic on September 5th, against the Riders in Regina.

One thing is certain having had his chatter thrown back in his face by the Als; Troy Westwood won’t be recounting his famous comments about Saskatchewan fans. He needs to concentrate on getting his foot to work with the ball and not end up in his mouth.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Quotables of August

What they said and who said it, the final snaps of August.

8-Aug-04 "Our football club plays hard, I don't think that our record indicates the type of football club we have"
9-Aug-04 "There will probably be something today"
10-Aug-04 "They tried but there wasn't that much they could do"
11-Aug-04 "Sitting back and hoping that things get better is not acceptable. Hope is not a method"
12-Aug-04 "If you want to call us financially prudent, okay, But don't say we're broke, that’s BS."
13-Aug-04 "It was as if a dark cloud had been lifted off the dressing room"
14-Aug-04 "You don't know what your going to get from him"
15-Aug-04 "It's bad, but not as bad as we thought!"
16-Aug-04 "I don't get it, I just don't get it"
17-Aug-04 "I feel better today than I did the day of the game"
18-Aug-04 "Challenges are challenges"
19-Aug-04 "Marcus is real, he's a grown man and he's not getting his feelings get inolved"
20-Aug-04 "I don't have to take sides, I just watched with amusement"
21-Aug-04 "Based on what's on the end of the tape, it's obvious which organization these people are from"
22-Aug-04 "We needed a good outing by everybody, and that's what we got"
23-Aug-04 "It's unacceptable at this level. You just have to be more aware."
24-Aug-04 "That’s not my call"
25-Aug-04 "Internally, we'll have a chat about it before we make any public statement"
26-Aug-04 "It seems like I kind of walked that man's shoes in a way"
27-Aug-04 "that's fine, but we speak with our pads"
28-Aug-04 "we stink"
29-Aug-04 "Everybody's looking for a Ricky Ray"
30-Aug-04 "I have a plan in my mind on how I want this thing to unfold today"
31-Aug-04 "I'm not going to lie to you, it hurts"

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Recapturing the moments of August

We continue with the archival tidbits of our little effort here.
This entry consists of the August contributions to my Opening kick off feature. I'll add the remaining weeks worth to the entry as they come along.

8-Aug-04 In praise of Mr. Jones
8-Aug-04 The road to hell passes through BC Place
8-Aug-04 180 degrees in 365 days
9-Aug-04 Big Blue Bid Ritchie farewell
9-Aug-04 Avery makes a statement
9-Aug-04 The owner's not in the store
10-Aug-04 Daley takes the reins
10-Aug-04 Walking tall in cowtown
10-Aug-04 Maas to take Pass in the Peg
11-Aug-04 Printing up some honours on the resume
11-Aug-04 Everything's coming up ARGOS
11-Aug-04 A Pivotal game for the Eskies
12-Aug-04 In Argoland there is now rest for the weary
12-Aug-04 Eskies take a gander on a long shot
12-Aug-04 Daley tackles double duty to turn around Bombers
13-Aug-04 Argos loss deeper than the scoreboard
13-Aug-04 A brand new Daley for Winnipeg
13-Aug-04 Cat fight ahead in Steeltown
14-Aug-04 Ti-Cats clawless against Lions
14-Aug-04 Bad day in Bomberland
14-Aug-04 ACL spells MIA
15-Aug-04 Back in the Playoff hunt, simply by taking a week off
15-Aug-04 Big Blue ready to work for Daley
15-Aug-04 The Silence of the Don
16-Aug-04 Cockiness or crazy? A voice booms across the prairies!
16-Aug-04 Not done yet!
16-Aug-04 An ill wind felt all the way to Winnipeg
17-Aug-04 Pinball's confidence man
17-Aug-04 Buono's got calls holding!
17-Aug-04 Rens punter getting comfortable
18-Aug-04 Bishop receives the praises and makes the passes
18-Aug-04 Geroy's the man of the week
18-Aug-04 Bad blood on the flatlands
19-Aug-04 This Bishop is a Believer
19-Aug-04 Stampeders down in wins, up in injuries
19-Aug-04 A Renegade sparkplug
20-Aug-04 The bombers are a mess
20-Aug-04 Midway through the season it's already must win time for the Eskies
20-Aug-04 Ti-cats end losing skid with win over Rens
21-Aug-04 The owner won't take anymore
21-Aug-04 Some new hands Rison in Toronto?
21-Aug-04 Report Card day in the Peg
22-Aug-04 Questions on comittment in Ottawa
22-Aug-04 Buono's QB assembly line
22-Aug-04 It's true! Rison will wear double blue.
23-Aug-04 Andre meets the media
23-Aug-04 Rens take steps to fix the O line
23-Aug-04 Toss the ball to Tucker
24-Aug-04 Woodcock ponders the bumps in the road
24-Aug-04 No rush on Rison
24-Aug-04 Back to Training camp
25-Aug-04 Snarling at the Bomber kennel
25-Aug-04 Bishop the Best
25-Aug-04 The Rush is on Rison
26-Aug-04 The Ramblin' Stallion fan
26-Aug-04 Ritchie in for repairs
26-Aug-04 Searching for answers in Ottawa
27-Aug-04 Losing the fans in the Peg!
27-Aug-04 Ricky Ray's biggest fan is Jason Maas
27-Aug-04 Signal Stealing Als have the Bombers spooked
28-Aug-04 Everybody Loves Danny
28-Aug-04 Steeltown sellout!
28-Aug-04 Weather, on field record and attendance all heading in the same direction
29-Aug-04 A Roaring Good time
29-Aug-04 Mills gone for rest of the regular season
29-Aug-04 Clearance time in Winnipeg
30-Aug-04 A one man scoring machine
30-Aug-04 Rison to step up
30-Aug-04 A new low point for Ottawa
31-Aug-04 Shouldering his share
31-Aug-04 Still Searching for answers in Bytown
31-Aug-04 Bishop still the field captain of the good ship Argo

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

July's Quotabales!

We carry on with our housekeeping as we archive all our quotables from our "Final Snaps" from July.

1-Jul-04 "His attitude is infectious"
2-Jul-04 "We don't view ourselves as an expansion team anymore"
3-Jul-04 "I scooped it up and let my legs do the rest"
6-Jul-04 "You can't spot a team 25 points and expect to win"
7-Jul-04 "Never judge a man by his waistline"
8-Jul-04 "We are projecting a recovery time of late August"
9-Jul-04 "You can play this game as long as you want, but until you have won a championship you can never have total satisfaction"
10-Jul-04 "Can a coach's future be determined in fifteen minutes of football"
11-Jul-04 "I should have got my ass kicked"
12-Jul-04 "I'm just reading defences, trying to make the right decisions"
13-Jul-04 "Don't quit because you can play this game"
14-Jul-04 "Nobody knows they're good until the end of the year"
16-Jul-04 "This team still has plenty to prove before it's removed from the endangered species list of CFL contenders"
17-Jul-04 "Other than all the surgery I have a lot of fun memories of Edmonton"
18-Jul-04 "I had a player late for practice today because he'd just finished up open heart surgery"
19-Jul-04 "I guess the one great thing for us is they're playing on a short week too"
20-Jul-04 "The bandwagon seems to be picking up more passengers at every stop"
21-Jul-04 "I never thought in a million years that I would be living in Winnipeg, Manitoba"
22-Jul-04 "He's a victim of his own success"
23-Jul-04 "You'll still see a bad ball or two, you'll still see something go wrong"
24-Jul-04 "For the most part I was really pleased with him, he never gave up"
25-Jul-04 "He's the guy who's supposed to be making the plays"

Looking Back through July

We continue our trip down memory lane with more of our "Opening kick-offs of July".

1-Jul-04 Mr. Wright needs a Mr. Right
1-Jul-04 Big Blue with Big Box Office
1-Jul-04 Ranek's rushing to the top
2-Jul-04 Some kind of work ethic
2-Jul-04 And they're not comfortable yet
2-Jul-04 Burris to the rescue
3-Jul-04 Lions defensive woes beginning to show
3-Jul-04 Renegades looking to 1972 for incentive
3-Jul-04 Fluties observations on the season so far6-Jul-04 Bobo back in blue6-Jul-04 Rens cram for next exam on Friday
6-Jul-04 If you shrink it will they come?
7-Jul-04 Western struggles signal change in the CFL
7-Jul-04 Jospeh's honoured for another great week
7-Jul-04 Fire the coach! Pressure building in Edmonton
8-Jul-04 The Miracle of Steeltown
8-Jul-04 Pringle picks his words
8-Jul-04 Time to show some pride
9-Jul-04 Anticipating the Big East showdown
9-Jul-04 On the case for Casey
9-Jul-04 Eskies by the numbers
10-Jul-04 Back to reality for the Renegades
10-Jul-04 It's not the field at all, believe me
10-Jul-04 Montreal's Little BIG Play man
11-Jul-04 Winning ugly with the Esks
11-Jul-04 The Heat is off in Mantiboa
11-Jul-04 Dickenson holds out hope
12-Jul-04 The West wants a leader
12-Jul-04 A Disappointed Dunigan
12-Jul-04 Stamps look to corral Als Thursday
13-Jul-04 Als running back receives honours
13-Jul-04 Renegades move on from disappointment
13-Jul-04 It's a snap!
14-Jul-04 Visions of the Gizmo
14-Jul-04 Sharing the load in Montreal
14-Jul-04 CFL on the air everywhere
16-Jul-04 The Als and all the rest
16-Jul-04 Kerry's kids benefit from Joseph's largesse
16-Jul-04 Still Undefeated
17-Jul-04 Ritchie holds the keys
17-Jul-04 Caught in the Stampede
17-Jul-04 Argos hold on to beat Riders
18-Jul-04 Re-runs at the Stampeder film festival
18-Jul-04 Levingston lectured in prime time
18-Jul-04 An October surpise in July
19-Jul-04 Khari is still pivotal
19-Jul-04 Joseph won't be ready for Wednesday
19-Jul-04 A chance for the little guy
20-Jul-04 Big Task ahead for Rens backup
20-Jul-04 To bring the best out of Bashir
20-Jul-04 Ryan's Fancy Kicking
21-Jul-04 Alouette players back in familiar territory
21-Jul-04 Argos to honour Gill the Thrill
21-Jul-04 The second chance club
22-Jul-04 Bombers triple pay
22-Jul-04 Stamps looking for a few good hands
22-Jul-04 Taking their shares to the road
23-Jul-04 Questions on Avery's longevity
23-Jul-04 One big unhappy family in Cowtown
23-Jul-04 Ti Cats join the spy race
24-Jul-04 Paopao preaches patience
24-Jul-04 Stamps await Dangerous Burris
24-Jul-04 Selfish behaviour unwanted with Blue
25-Jul-04 Perfection in Montreal
25-Jul-04 Accountability begins in the dressing room
25-Jul-04 Flag Days

Monday, August 23, 2004


As I began this blog there has been a nightly feature called the "Final Snap", it was basically the quote of the day from a CFL player, coach or executive. The plan again was to keep a list of them by the month and include it on the blog. So three months later we begin that project and hope to catch up quickly. Unfortunately in both the Final Snaps and the Opening kickoff's some links have gone missing, we regret the inconvenience.

13-Jun-04 "But I wouldn't listen to me."
14-Jun-04 "Protect the chief"
15-Jun-04 "Like it or not, Ontario counts"
16-Jun-04 "But I think for the first time."
17-Jun-04 "The Playoffs are every teams goal"
18-Jun-04 "The League has never enjoyed as much exposure"
19-Jun-04 "Even though I'm a Bombers fan…"
20-Jun-04 "Some days you walk the dog, some days the dog walks you"
21-Jun-04 "One weeks results, do not a season make"
23-Jun-04 "The CFL is, if nothing else, entertaining"
24-Jun-04 "I think they go hand in hand"
25-Jun-04 "Coach Marshall said we'e not here to tune up for next year…"
26-Jun-04 "Whoever coached him, hurt him"
27-Jun-04 "A stench in the trenches"
29-Jun-04 "In fact, some of the guys felt left out"
30-Jun-04 "He's gone far beyond what we expected of him"

Looking back thus far!

A bit of site maintenance to be done here. Had planned to make this a monthly feature but somehow got sidetracked. Shall compile the collection of Opening kick off entries on a monthly basis. It's also my plan to put the final snap entries in a similar compilation.

We'll begin with the start of the season and the month of June.

13-Jun-04 Ritchie in the hot seat in the Peg
13-Jun-04 Stamps have many questions
13-Jun-04 Cut down day
14-Jun-04 Leos turn to untested QB for season debut
14-Jun-04 Stameders hope to surprise
14-Jun-04 Ti Cats hope that Marshall has the plan
15-Jun-04 Pringle runs for the record books
15-Jun-04 Stampeders face a long season
15-Jun-04 Avery gets clearance to play
16-Jun-04 Argos have almost the perfect game
16-Jun-04 Dickenson's health is the key
16-Jun-04 Green and Gold and doing what they're told
17-Jun-04 Dunnigan ready to take it all on
17-Jun-04 Another Edmonton era?
17-Jun-04 New Bombers hope to prove their worth
18-Jun-04 Tale of the turf
18-Jun-04 Stamps adjust to Greeneless Riders
18-Jun-04 Tough words in Winnipeg
19-Jun-04 Pressure on the coaches to deliver this year
19-Jun-04 Welcome to Dave Ritchie's doghouse
19-Jun-04 Revenge is best served cold
20-Jun-04 Maritimers ready to explore the elusive 10th franchise
20-Jun-04 Keeping the finger off the panic button in the peg
20-Jun-04 Ti Cats ready to show they're for real
21-Jun-04 Stamps savour first win of the season
21-Jun-04 Renegades look back at game one, prepare for game two
21-Jun-04 Mixed emotions in the bomber box
22-Jun-04 Danny Mac is the top of the pack
22-Jun-04 Back in the coaching saddle
22-Jun-04 Nova Scotia football loses a giant: Don Loney passes away
23-Jun-04 The owner's over the moon
23-Jun-04 Renegades put out the No Returns sign
23-Jun-04 Tom Wright's fact finding mission down east
24-Jun-04 The million dollar man
24-Jun-04 A work in progress
24-Jun-04 Singing a song
25-Jun-04 Hamilton fans are buying what Young is selling
25-Jun-04 Argos find fault with the officials
25-Jun-04 Getting better with age
26-Jun-04 Danny Mac's attack
26-Jun-04 Leos shoot it out with Esks at Commonwealth
26-Jun-04 Smiling Stamps ready for home opener
27-Jun-04 Defensive downfall
27-Jun-04 Anwar Stewart - gamebreaker
27-Jun-04 Leos win on the field, now want to win in the board room
29-Jun-04 CFL and NFL find common ground until 2006
29-Jun-04 Bombers heading in the wrong direction
29-Jun-04 Same colour, different Green, Kenton Keith rejoins Riders
30-Jun-04 Twice bitten, once shy
30-Jun-04 Bombers look to shore up defence
30-Jun-04 Award winning Renegades

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Spurgeon for the Wynn!

The vast majority of the gathering at McMahon stadium Saturday night left the ball park cold, wet and unhappy over the final result. But the one thing they couldn’t say was that they weren’t entertained!

Saturday night’s CFL contest in Calgary was one of the more entertaining efforts thus far this year. Providing some hope for Stamps fans that their team is about to begin a rising from the also rans. The Stamps forced the Western division leading BC Lions into over time before eventually ending up on the short end of the 25-18 score. The Lions who increased their winning streak to six in a row, found all they could handle with a Stamps team that played hard hitting, smash mouth football combined with some impressive offence from Marcus Crandell and his receiving corps.

Both teams traded scoring drives with heavy hits in a hard fought battle on the wet McMahon turf. Nasty weather helped to contribute to the old time football atmosphere as the Alberta winds whipped around the stadium. Both starting QB’s managed to keep their passes on target through the night, but for the Lions it was the running of Eddie Linscomb that sealed the fate of the Stamps. Linscomb scored twice in the game, the more important of the two a one yard run in the overtime to put the Lions into the lead. The CFL overtime rules called for one more set of downs for the Stamps, and try as they did they could not make it to the end zone. Crandell was sacked on a third down attempt to bring the Overtime to an end, securing the win for the Leos.

Much will be discussed about the decision of Stamps QB to throw a pass as the second half wound down rather than to stop the clock and attempt a field goal. The lost three points would have been the difference by the games end giving the Stamps a victory; instead the two teams tied at 18 each went to the extra time. The score remained tied late in the game thanks to a remarkable game saving knockdown by Defensive back Jason Crumb who came from half a field away to deflect a certain touchdown pass to the ground.

The Lions were forced to rely on third string Spurgeon Wynn when starting QB Casey Printers was taken out of the game in the fourth, Printers who was creamed by Scott Coe as the third quarter ended tried to return to play but never really was the same. Printers was forced out for good in the fourth quarter when he came up limping, Wally Buono sent Wynn in to carry the torch and after a bit of a struggle Wynn kept the Leos rolling.

His contribution should prove to be a huge confidence builder for the third stringer, who only a year ago was being spoken about as a possible starter for the Leos one day. Since training camp he has been in the shadow of Printers all season. Printers of course took over for the injured Dave Dickenson weeks ago and has had the Lions on a streak ever since.

Wynn put his stamp on the Stamps in the overtime with a 29 yard pass to Ryan Thelwell that set up the winning run by Linscomb. His success bodes well for Lions team that must now feel as though they are the team to beat in the Western division. They now return home to take care of the bumps and bruises and prepare for the Argonauts.

Calgary frustrated as they must be can take some positive things from the game, despite the second quarter miscue Marcus Crandell seemed to have returned to his level of play from last year, a good sign for a Stamps team that needs to put points on the board. The defence played very hard to keep a powerhouse Lions attack in check for most of the game, a few more yards and a bit better clock management could have been the missing ingredient to a Stamps win. Its cold comfort for a cold and wet Stampeder fan, but for the football fan watching on the tube it was a pretty entertaining night of CFL football.

Andre’s Toronto pit stop

More than one eye has been raised with the news that former NFL All Pro Andre Rison has signed a practice roster contract with the Toronto Argonauts. Rison who last played football in the 2000 NFL campaign, arrived in Toronto this weekend and will be on the field wearing number three when the Argos practice Sunday.

Rison’s route to Toronto began with a conversation with Argo player personnel director Greg Mohns in Florida. He took part in some drills there and then flew to Toronto for a full audition with the Argonaut leadership on Friday. They apparently were satisfied with what they saw and what they heard as they offered him a contract which he signed on Saturday.

The thirteen year NFL veteran comes to Canada with a wee bit of baggage attached. He's had run ins with the NFL's substance abuse program in the past and was featured in a media feeding frenzy over his relationship with deceased rap star Lisa Loeb. In addition to all that attention he has had well documented legal troubles regarding child support stemming from a relationship with his now ex wife Tonja. Rison’s handlers are presently trying to sort our his family maintenance requirements, considering his lack of income stream of late. No doubt his CFL paycheque stubs will help make his case about a reduction in income. As a practice roster Argo he makes 500 dollars a week, his lawyers probably drink that much in coffee every week. But once he’s off the practice roster he’ll be making a bit more cash, though terms of his contract were not disclosed on Friday.

How that situation might impact on his availability was left unsaid by Argo brass, but the fact he signed a contract must mean that any Canadian legal troubles would have been cleared up. He’s also not exactly planning on a lengthy stay in Canadian football, Rison stated clearly that his plan is to get back to the NFL and he feels that the CFL is his best possible route back into an NFL uniform. So the rise of Andre may be a short burst rather than a long lengthy flare.

What remains to be seen is whether he still has the wheels and the hands to be productive member of the Argonaut team. With Damon Allen on the injury list many thought the Argos would have been scouring high and low for an insurance QB, the Rison signing certainly comes out of nowhere.

Pinball Clemons the Argos head coach is apparently quite excited at the prospect of Rison running patterns for the double blue. Hoping that the rust will be easy to shake off and some leadership skills will develop to aid the young corps of Argonauts in the line up. Considering the sideshow that envelopes Rison, Pinball will have to summon all his positive vibes to keep his team on an even keel. A fairly close knit group in double blue listen to Clemons every word, if he didn’t feel the mix would work one suspects he would have been able to make his point to management.

It’s a risky gambit the Argos have launched, but a gutsy one. If Rison can concentrate on football and provide some solid help on the field, this could be a move that helps propel the Argos past their Eastern rivals the Alouettes and into this years Grey Cup. If he’s in game shape and ready to go, Rison will make his CFL debut against the western division leading BC Lions on August 27th. The buzz for that game was already building in Vancouver, the Rison signing will only increase the interest in the game at BC Place.

Argo fans who have been returning back to the fold in ever increasing numbers this season will get their first look at him as part of the Labour Day classic against the Ti Cats. That game which already promised to be a high profile game just got a bit more excitement to add to the mix.

Already the media are finding the Rison signing to be a lightning rod for debate and conversation. The TSN panel weighed in on the signing between quarters of the Lions/Stamps game and sports talks shows across the country have found no shortage of callers with an opinion.

Football the game and Football the show, they’re alive and well in Toronto and across Canada. And once again the Argos are providing Canadians with a high profile target. Say what you will, about the Argos they’re at least trying to keep football on the front burner in TO.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Hit and Run at Commonwealth as Edmonton unloads on Riders!

In the Regina dressing room they had the look of a shell-shocked battalion wondering where all the artillery had come from. Walking wounded tended to their ailments as reporters tried to piece together yet another Rider loss at Commonwealth stadium. Edmonton took until the second quarter to get untracked, but by the end of the fourth quarter the defending Grey Cup champs had put away the Riders 31-7. The loss marks the fifth time that the Riders have lost a game in Edmonton since 2000. The tunnel from the dressing room to the field must feel like the Bermuda triangle to the Jolly Green Giants, many pass through the entrance only to lose their game crossing onto the field.

The Riders started out in good style, Kenton Keith getting them on the scoreboard in the first quarter with a two yard run, the Riders held onto the lead through the first and into the second quarter, but then came the turnovers. Two interceptions by Edmonton’s Malcolm Frank turned the tide on Friday night, the first one off of Henry Burris snuffed out a Rider drive, keeping the Eskies close and ready to strike. The second Frank interception was even costlier to the Riders as he took it back to the Saskatchewan end zone and touchdown that put the Esks up 14-7 never to look back.

Jason Maas went 19 for 33 during the game including a spectacular 102 pass and catch route with Jason Tucker which brought the huge Commonwealth crowd to its feet. While Maas was moving the offence and Frank was ruining Burris’ day it was Sean Fleming who put in a full day’s work, Fleming successfully kicked five of six attempted field goals, accounting for over half of the Eskies scoring.

Saskatchewan left Edmonton with more than just unpleasant memories; they will take full advantage of their thirteen day layoff to tend to punter Paul McCallum who was rocked by the Eskimos Derrell Mitchell. McCallum was attempting to get in on a tackle of punt returner Winston October, when Mitchell nailed him with a crushing but clean blow that ended up separating McCallum’s shoulder. McCallum endeavored to continue kicking but eventually gave way to running back Neal Hughes who took over the kicking duties for all but one play. McCallum trotted out late in the game to attempt a 26 yard field goal; however he struck the upright and went uncounted.

McCallum will now have time to rest his shoulder and hope for a speedy recovery. Saskatchewan will not play again until the September 5th Labour Day Weekend Classic, Sunday against Winnipeg at Taylor Field. A traditionally hard hitting affair the two teams will be looking at it as a pivotal point in the chase for a playoff spot.

As for Edmonton they face the suddenly troubled Ottawa Renegades next Sunday, with Maas back in action, the defence hitting hard and special teams firing on all their cylinders the Renegades like the Riders this week, may face their upcoming Commonwealth experience with more than a little trepidation.

Rens lose five of last six, changes are now a given!

Thursday night was supposed to be the night the Renegades turned around their losing skid; instead they gave up two points against the divisional rival they have to beat to make the playoffs and also gave their fans cause to worry about the rest of the season. With a chance to catch the Argos and put four points between themselves and the Ti Cats the Renegades offered up one of their worst games of the year. The thirteen day break enjoyed by the Renegades proved to be a costly lay off as the team while rested appeared to come out terribly flat.

The Hamilton Tiger Cats brought back the ghosts of Angelo Mosca, Joe Zuger and Bernie Faloney as they dominated the Renegades 31-19 in front of the largest crowd of the season in Ottawa. The game harkened back to the days when the Tiger Cats would come into Ottawa and lay a licking on the old Rough Riders. Thursday night was like déjà vu from the sixties and seventies.

Discipline seemed to be the downfall on this Thursday night along the Rideau Canal. With the Central Canada Exhibition as a backdrop to the night’s entertainment, the Renegades gave their fans a bad case of indigestion, worse than any binge of mini donuts will ever do. Dumb penalties can kill any team and Thursday night featured a miscue that proved more than costly and could have resulted in serious injury. Renegade Kyries Hebert ran through Ti Cat punt returner Craig Yeast as he was waiting for the ball to arrive. The collision left the Ti Cats steamed on the sidelines but marching down the field to the Rens end of Frank Clair Stadium as officials assessed 40 yards in penalties for the needless hit applied to Yeast. Three plays after the hit, the Ti Cats were in the end zone and up by 18 points for all intents and purposes the game was over right then and there.

Thursday marked the return of Kerry Joseph to the Ottawa line up and he must have wondered why he bothered, his offensive line left him at the mercies of a fierce and motivated Hamilton front line. The lack of protection was not lost on head coach Joe Paopao who succinctly put it in terms all could understand “We can't go the way we've been going, or we'll run out of quarterbacks” Joseph was taken to the turf five times on Thursday night, as the Tiger Cats prowled the Rens backfield almost at will. Over the last three games fourteen times a Renegade quarterback has been crushed by an opposition line, the front line of the Rens offence unable to stem the tide of oncoming rushers.

The Tiger Cats immediately found themselves back in the driver’s seat for a playoff birth as Greg Marshall’s team started to get back the form that they began the season with. For Hamilton the win was their first in five games and has helped to take some of the edge off the losing skid. Marshall has managed to keep his team focused on the job at hand despite the lack of wins in the last month and a half. Getting the win over Ottawa may be just the thing to get his team believing in their chances again.

For Joe Paopao, Eric Tillman may be relaying some marching orders from owner Brad Watters. Watters was visibly upset with his team’s performance Thursday night and vowed changes would have to be made. With the Grey Cup being hosted by Ottawa this year, the plan was to have a team that would be ready to claim Earl Grey’s Cup for the hometown side. Midway through the campaign that plan is nowhere near completion, it’s time to pencil in some changes and try and get back on track. The promise of the first three games has given way to disappointment, to salvage the season the Rens need to shake things up and get it done quickly!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

We're sorry! Your call cannot be completed as dialed!

Already the subtle and not so subtle inquiries are starting to come in, what will Wally Buono want to do when Dave Dickenson is healthy and ready to get back into the huddle? The fast tracked course of Casey Printers has given the Lions the whisper of a Quarterbacking controversy as teams struck down by injuries to their starting QB’s cast an envious eye on the Leos roster. With the other eight teams beginning to worry about their QB situation it may be a wise for Wally Buono and Bob Ackles to take their phones off the hook for the next little while.

Dickenson the Lions first stringer is recovering from a knee injury and is expected back in the line up by the second week of September However the Lions won’t be in any hurry to rush him back into the lineup prematurely. Since Dickenson’s unplanned departure from the field, Printers has filled in more than nicely, providing on field leadership and some pretty impressive statistics gained with each successive Lion win. Even without the smooth veteran skills of Dickenson, the Lions find themselves atop the Western Division and looking very much as the only team that may be able to take on the Montreal Alouettes for Earl Grey’s cup.

Printers has spent many nights studying old Dave Dickenson video tape, trying to understand the methods and intuition that the veteran has shown on more than one occasion. The home film festival has paid off handsomely for Printers, who has shown remarkable poise while filling in, he credits the late night studying of the moves of Dickenson for his success. That and some solid support from a very talented Lions receiving and running corps has gone a long way to making his job a lot easier.

For the Lions the idea of trading one or the other away at the moment must seem laughable. Granted Dickenson is the highest paid player on the roster if not in the league at around 450,000 a year, but he was given that highly addictive salary for a reason. He was the one chosen to lead the Leos on to Grey Cup victory. Regardless as to how well Printers has performed, it seems a sure bet that once his mobility is where he would like it, Dickenson will be back in the lineup.

Wally Buono may now be a tad more relaxed during games, realizing that should Dickenson stumble Printers is more than ready to jump in and get the job done. And for now, he’ll have the answering machine turned on screening all calls. It’s going to have to take a pretty spectacular deal to pry either Dickenson or Printers out of a Leo’s uniform. In a season where QB’s have tumbled off the active roster at a rapid pace, having an insurance policy like Printers hanging around ready to go, is certainly something the Lions are going to want to have heading into the second half of the season and on the way to a possible Grey Cup berth.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Argos take a breath, as Bishop makes them believers

One week ago the faces on the Argonaut bench told a story of shock, worry and semi resignation. Damon Allen had suffered an injury at the hands of his main nemesis the Montreal Alouettes. A serious injury that had tongues wagging about career ending misfortune, a cooling breeze on a red hot Argo team and a sudden questioning of the Argos lack of depth at one of the most important positions on a team. With Allen out of the line up and many worried about a possible Argonaut tailspin attendance figures were suddenly at risk. With an unproven Michael Bishop at the helm would the Argos revert to friends and family only at Skydome?

One week later, once again all is well in Argo land. Damon Allen’s injury is not a serious as first thought, in fact it’s hard to believe but a broken leg is apparently a sign of good fortune in Toronto, who would have thought! The critics and commentators are once again marveling at the Argos ability to keep the pace with the Alouettes in the east, a 14-6 win over Winnipeg Tuesday night, was an apparent testimony to the football Gods kiss of fortune to the double blue. Pinball Clemons trademark ear to ear grin is once again beaming brightly after that forlorn expression beamed on TSN last week, the Argo head coach finding hope in the arm of Michael Bishop. The second largest home crowd of the year for the Argos showing that the fans haven’t given up hope if the Argos haven’t.

And hope would appear in the form of Michael Bishop, as his first high expectation start paid off big dividends with a heavy domination of the Blue Bombers. Featuring an amazing display of aerial bombardment, Bishop managed to calm down the jittery Argo naysayers. Had his place kicker been able to convert his three field goal opportunities the game would have been put away much earlier, as it was Bishop’s ability to evade the Bomber rush, find the open receiver and scramble for big yardage was the difference for an Argo team that needed this win as much to prove to themselves that they weren’t done yet as for the points.

With Allen gone for up to eight weeks, it’s up to Bishop to keep the team’s momentum going and reassure all in Argo land that things are in good hands. His Tuesday night adventure will go a long way to helping secure his place as the Argo leader in Allen’s absence. He has eight weeks to make sure that the Argos are in the right place for a run for the Grey Cup. In a season that is quickly becoming the year of the back up, Bishop is proving that he is more than up to the challenge ahead.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Just off the VR list!

Back in the huddle we are, having just completed a two week stint on the V R (Vacation Relief List)

Interesting to note that while we were incommunicado with our computer the BC Lions put together a wonderful little winning streak. The Lions can be found rocketing up to the top of the CFL West. The Hamilton Tiger cats on the other hand after much promise early on, began the free fall to the basement that everyone predicted at the start of the season.

The Alouettes continued to make Don Matthews the most despised yet most successful coach in the CFL, while the Edmonton Eskimos until their game with Winnipeg Thursday night, appeared to be back on the winning track.

Speaking of Winnipeg, the long anticipated public execution of Dave Ritchie finally took place and judging by the comments of Bomber place kicker Troy Westwood, it couldn’t have happened too soon! Such is the fates of the what have you done for us lately crowd.

The Argonauts have been bringing back the crowds to the Skydome and making their owners very very happy, averaging very close to 25,000 butts in 25,000 seats per game; one wonders if they really want a new downtown stadium with only 25,000 seats now? If they keep reigniting their relationship with Toronto Sports fans, the Skydome may actually be filled once again. It’s going to be hard to convince the accountants that 25,000 tickets will be better than 40 or 50 thousand. Once again it’s proof that if you put a product worth watching on the field, the crowds will come out (of course you also need your co-tenant in the form of the Blue Jays to drop off the radar in Toronto!)

The Ottawa Renegades continue to play pretty decent football even with a second stringer at the controls. But it wouldn’t be the CFL without whispers of financial troubles, rumours that the ownership group in Ottawa have been quick to dismiss.

Saskatchewan can’t seem to make up its mind if it is going to make a charge this year or slip back into disappointment. And over in Calgary they’re pretty excited about Mr. Jones with his efforts in last weeks win over Winnipeg, the game that sealed the fate for the unfortunate Mr. Ritchie. Matt Dunigan having fired his offensive co-coordinator suddenly found out that his team actually had an offence.

With the always popular Labour Day wars only a few weeks away, the CFL as always has been giving us some pretty entertaining football. Injuries are starting to make their presence felt, the teams that have coped well with the setbacks seem to be the one’s well placed to make the run for Earl Grey’s mug.

The Lions without Dave Dickenson have been the most impressive as Casey Printers stepped up to move the Lions attack. Saskatchewan has stumbled since Nealon Green was injured and the Ti-Cats fate has seemed to suffer with every Danny Mac concussion. The Renegades miss Kerry Joseph but continue to keep in the hunt. How will Edmonton fare with Jason Maas on the sidelines? We're at the stage of the season where one player goes out and the entire playoff picture could change.

The big question now will be the status of Damon Allen, the 41 year old Argo QB was knocked out of Thursday’s game with the Als, by the end of the third quarter he was seen on the sidelines on crutches with a leg wrapped in ice. The three most feared letters in the CFL were being bounced around the TSN panel, ACL, the term that can have head coaches reach for the Gaviscon quicker than the Gatorade. With an MRI scheduled in Toronto on Friday, the Argos will hold their breath and hope for a sliver of good news. Though if Pinball Clemon's face was any indication, things are not looking too good for the Argo QB.

Allen has suffered major injuries before and bounced back quickly, one wonders if his 41 year old body has one more miracle in it. If not the Quarterback of the future Michael Bishop, becomes the Quarterback of the present. But expect the Argos to be quick to the phone (hello Marcus Crandell!!) should Allen’s season be finished. With the return of the fans to Skydome the Argos will want to keep interest high, look for a name QB to be in double blue if Allen can’t return to the lineup.

Lots to keep track of and we’re rested and ready to go here at the Twelve. Put us in coach, we’re ready to play!