Friday, September 30, 2011

CFL Gameday: Edmonton at British Columbia (September 30)

The Lions re-open their Den tonight, the grand re-opening of BC Place Stadium expected to bring one of the largest crowds in recent Lions history into downtown Vancouver to gawk at the face lift and if they find some time, perhaps watch a little football.

The stadium most likely will be the featured attraction, Sarah McLauchlan has been recruited to perform the National Anthem, adding some star power to an already festivity laden night, the pre game ceremonies get underway at 6, providing for ninety minutes of retrospection and celebration.

BC Place has been described as the Crown jewel of stadiums in Canada, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into turning the old pillow topped stadium into a retractable roof fashion plate, inside the renovations have made BC Place (no doubt with naming rights yet to come) once again an event destination, beyond even the regular stable of CFL games.

Into all the hoopla tonight will be the Eskimos and Lions, the Leos providing a bit more incentive for the locals by stringing together over a month of wins and surging towards the top of the CFL West, while tonight's competitors, the Eskimos have been performing in streaks and stops, currently back to the drawing board to try and build up some consistency.

With the Lions setting their sights on first in the West, at two points out of first, a victory in tonight's game could provide the push to the top, just in time for the CFL final stretch and run up to the Playoffs, something that could guarantee that BC Place features a lively crowd right up until Grey Cup Sunday.

Game Time 7:30 PM PT (10:30 ET, 8:30 MT) TSN

Pre Game

Vancouver Province-- Lions players love renovated B. C. Place
Vancouver Sun-- Despite bugs in the house, Lions welcome fans, Eskimos to their new lair
Edmonton Journal-- B. C. Place a sparkling jewel
Edmonton Sun-- Home, sweet, Dome for Leos?
Globe and Mail-- Dome, sweet dome for Lions
National Post-- And all it took was $563 million

Quick Snaps British Columbia Lions
Quick Snaps Edmonton Eskimos

Post Game

Edmonton 24 at British Columbia 33
Attendance-- 50,213

Vancouver Province-- No. 250 no milestone for Buono
Vancouver Sun-- Lions provide interior finish at palace
Edmonton Journal-- Joseph continues doing solid work in backup role
Edmonton Sun-- Lions roll over Eskimos
Globe and Mail-- Spoiled west-coast sports fans get a revamped B. C. Place

CFL Gameday: Montreal at Winnipeg (September 30)

Friday Night Football's opening act tonight features the latest challenge to the Blue Bombers dominance in the East, as the Montreal Alouettes, still smarting from their last match up with the Blue arrive at Canad Inn Stadium to take on an injury depleted Bomber line up.

Montreal closed the gap between themselves and Winnipeg last week with their convincing victory over the Eskimos and they face a Blue Bomber squad that has a number of key injuries to deal with heading into the home stretch of the CFL season.

Among the wounded, the Bombers running back corps and a fellow named Buck Pierce, who will be on the sidelines today as back up Alex Brink takes the reins of the first place Bombers, making only his second CFL start in his young career.

The ultimate test for a back up beckons, not only does he have to fill in for the teams marquee star, he has to hold on to first place in front of what most likely will be another sold out stadium, pressure, what's pressure?

The Als have a few bangs for themselves, but nothing like the Emergency ward material the Bombers are dealing with, Anthony Calvillo sat out the last quarter of last week's Eskimos game, a concussion leaving him on a day to day basis earlier this week, however, for Bomber fans the prognosis on Mr. Calvillo is that he's fit to play, an added bit of drama for Game One of TSN's Friday Night Football doubleheader.

With first place within the sights of the Alouettes and the Bombers banged up at possibly the worst part of the schedule, the geography of the East Division standings could see a subtle shift by the time tonight's game is at an end.

Game Time 6 PM CT (7 ET, 4 PT) TSN

Pre Game

Winnipeg Sun--  In Brink they trust
Winnipeg Free Press-- Underdogs
Globe and Mail-- Buck Pierce to miss  Bombers' game against Als
National Post-- Bombers persevering despite heavy injury toll Calvillo ready to play against Blue Bombers

Quick Snaps Montreal Alouettes
Quick Snaps Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Post Game

Montreal 32 Winnipeg 26
Attendance-- 30,447 CFL's Higgins admits ref mad bad call
Globe and Mail-- Als hang on to beat Bombers
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers can't score from one
Winnipeg Free Press-- LaPo wants CFL review of Friday's final play

Thursday, September 29, 2011

CFL Regular Season Week 14

Injuries may play a key part of week fourteen of the regular season, Winnipeg and Montreal both suffered key injuries in last week's action, more so the Bombers than the Als.  Winnipeg's sideline resembled a MASH unit on Saturday afternoon in Toronto, so concerned are the Bombers about the injury list that Michael Biship has once again been summoned by a CFL team to help fill the injury gaps.

Montreal's Anthony Calvillo also was rocked on the weekend, leaving Adrian MacPherson to fill in and pick up the pace on the way to the Als victory on Friday, word out of Montreal is that Calvillo will be healthy enough to play on Friday night when the Als have a showdown with Bombers in Winnipeg with first place in sight for Montreal.

Other CFL action this weekend features the Lions hosting the grand re-opening of BC Place on Friday night, BC is currently the hottest team in the CFL and could move further up the CFL West chain with a victory over the inconsistent Eskimos.

Two teams that are having their problems getting things on track meet on Saturday  in Calgary, as the Roughriders come a calling on the Stamps.  Calgary's problems are becoming rather glaring of late, leaving head coach John Hufnagel to question his team's heart.

The Riders on the other hand finally came back to where they were prior to the return of Ken Miller, last week's loss to British Columbia was Millers' first experience of the kind of pain that Greg Marshall faced for the start of the season, a returning trend that isn't finding favour in Regina these days.

Toronto's playoff hopes could all but be gone after this weekend when the Argos host their long time rivals the Tiger Cats on Saturday, Hamilton flush with a convincing victory over Calgary at Touchdown Atlantic could put the final nail in the Argos coffin this season with a win.

The Cats and Argos bring a wrap to week fourteen of the CFL, one which could see many changes in the pecking order heading into Thanksgiving next weekend.

Friday, September 30-- Montreal 32 at Winnipeg 26  (A--30,447)
Friday, September 30-- Edmonton 24 at British Columbia 33  (A-- 50,213)
Saturday, October 1-- Saskatchewan 3 at Calgary 40 (A-- 33,489)
Saturday, October 1-- Hamilton 27 at Toronto 12  ( A--21,853

Twelve Men Prognostications: Predicted Winners

British Columbia

Weekly Record-- 4 - 4
Overall Record-- 28 - 52

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CFL Players of the Week - Week 13

The Marcus Thigpen show in Moncton this weekend, offered up enough video evidence to mark a spot on the Gibson's Awards honour rolls for Week 13.

With his outstanding performance at Touchdown Atlantic, Thigpen snared the Special Teams Player of the Week award, his long distance touchdown ramble for over 100 yards sealing his sport for the Gibson's this week.

His highlight roll performance was just one of many considered this weekend, with Brandon Whitakers' work against the Eskimos good enough to claim the Offensive Player of the Week Award, his second award this year from Gibson's.

Jovon Johnson received defensive honours for Saturdays effort in a losing cause against the Argonauts, While Ricky Foley claimed his award from that same game as he stood out over the weekend as far as Canadian players performed.

The full review of the awards for week Thirteen can be found below.

Official website for the Gibson's Player Awards

See video replay here

Offensive Player of the Week
Brandon Whitaker
Montreal Alouettes - Running Back

Defensive Player of the Week
Jovon Johnson
Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- Defensive Back

Special Teams Player of the Week
Marcus Thigpen
Hamilton Tiger Cats - Kick Returner/Running Back

Canadian Player of the Week
Ricky Foley
Toronto Argonauts - Defensive End

Items of Note

Thigpen headlines Players of the Week
Top Ten Plays of the Week
End Zone Replay Week 13
Purolator Sack Attack Week 13

Gibsons Award Archives for 2011

The points after Touchdown Atlantic II

The CFL's second annual trip down east for a feed of Lobster and little bit of football was strong on buzz, but for the first time came up a little short at the turnstile, as Atlantic Canadians came to Moncton Stadium for the Stamps and Tiger Cats, but left a few patches of unsold seats to temper all the exuberance of festival week of football.

CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon attributed some of those empty spaces to a miscommunication/computer glitch, where locals were under the impression that the game had been sold out weeks ago. The Commissioner also pointed out that the unsold seats were in the end zones, where football fans are less likely to want to shell out cash, true enough, but in a stadium where only about 10,000 seats are between the goal lines, those 10,000 or so end zone seats are the difference in gate receipts.

Even with the empty seats in Moncton however, the Cats and Stamps still outdrew the Argonauts at Rogers Centre, something that no doubt is of a more pressing concern to the CFL, while they continue to try to expand the brand across the country, they still struggle to hold on to and boost the importance of the game in the media and population leader of the nation.

At the end of the weekend we imagine that the CFL isn't particularly concerned about the shortfall of a few hundred seats of the temporary expansion of Moncton Stadium, the Touchdown Atlantic roadshow is really more of an image statement for the league, bringing the Canadian game from coast to coast, testing the waters and all of that. But for the Moncton organizers, having an attendance slip in just the second event, probably opens the door a crack for Halifax or Quebec City to seek out some space as a potential eastern book end for the CFL's dream of a tenth franchise.

The atmosphere through the week was akin to a mini Grey Cup Festival, one which the two participants are more hands on involved in the festivities than during a Grey Cup Week.  Both the Stamps and Tiger Cats made public appearances, held football clinics and talked with local students, fans and amateur football players, a fine bit of CFL public relations which the league should be thankful for.

The game itself, was a bit of a blow out by the end, the Tiger Cats seemingly more at home in Moncton than the Stamps (then again the Stamps have had troubles of their own at McMahon, so perhaps they were "too at home" down east).  In the end, Hamilton took the two points and put on the showcase display with Kevin Glenn and Marcus Thigpen wowing the 20,153 in attendance on Sunday.

Commissioner Cohon was non committal about a Touchdown Atlantic III next year, suggesting that the centennial celebrations of the CFL may make the logistics of a Moncton show hard to pull together. He offered up a hope to local organizers that the 2013 season may see a few games of the wandering Tiger Cats on the schedule, Hamilton destined to be homeless for a year while Ivor Wynne Stadium is renovated, but he did add that would be the decision of the Tiger Cats.

Some of the success of the Touchdown Atlantic template however may work against a return visit to Moncton in the near future, there are a number of cities across Canada that may wish to test the waters of hosting a CFL game and perhaps in the future a CFL franchise.

As mentioned, Halifax is always on a list of potential sites, as is the football mad region of Quebec's capital city, other potentials hosts and test sites could be London, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, and Kelowna or Victoria, British Columbia.

Part of the legacy of the Touchdown Atlantic festivals could be that the thirst for CFL football is growing in other communities. Moncton may have been the first in the line up, but as the prospect of CFL expansion grows over the next few years, they may find that their success has added to the competitive pool of applicants.

A delicate balance of community relations for the Commissioner, but most likely a welcome one as the CFL seeks to increase the importance of its brand across the country.

Some of the reviews of the Touchdown Atlantic festivities and the lead up to this weekends Atlantic visit can be found below.

September 29-- Atlantic CFL expansion a tricky play
September 28-- McCain offers views on Atlantic CFL franchise
September 28-- Metro CFL game outdrew tilt at Rogers Centre
September 27-- Hufnagel no fan of Stamps' game film
September 27-- Moncton film like a Stamps horror show
September 27-- On the way home
September 27-- CFL might skip Touchdown Atlantic in 2012
September 27-- Moncton eyes the next big event
September 26-- Moncton enhances their CFL reputation
September 26-- CFL's Touchdown Atlantic has winning formula
September 26-- Red Alert in Calgary
September 26-- Same old mistakes as Ticats score at will against Stamps
September 26-- Touchdown Atlantic has fan in Kevin Glenn
September 26-- Calgary defence suffers meltdown
September 26-- CFL alumni enjoy weekend football festivities
September 26-- Ticats pummel Stampeders in Moncton
September 26-- Non-sellout for CFL game not alarming
September 26-- Moncton makes another great CFL impression
September 26-- Moncton Stadium becomes Ti-Cat Thigpen's playpen
September 26-- Football fans praise Metro Moncton hospitality
September 26-- Families, football fans cram onto Main Street for food, games and more
September 26-- CFL is Moncton's and Canada's game
September 26-- Football fans say Hub City needs a CFL team
September 26-- Thigpen shows his love for Moncton with big game in Ticat
September 26-- Touchdown Atlantic sideshow, story links and the Box J Boys
September 26-- Moncton pulls off football feat
September 26-- Diehards revel to see their favourites
September 26-- Comments cast doubt on 2012 game
September 25-- Thigpen's three TDs power Ticats
September 25-- Tiger Cats rout Stamps in Moncton
September 25-- Ticats vs Stamps TD Atlantic Twitter feed
September 25-- Ticats WR Marcus Thigpen puts "touchdown" in Touchdown Atlantic...
September 25-- Ticats Thigpen eats up seafood, then Stamps and the future of TD Atlantic
September 25-- 360 degree view of University of Moncton Stadium
September 25-- Dispatches from Moncton ahead of Ticats vs Stampeders
September 25-- The stands weren't full, but there was a lot to be praised
September 25-- Measuring the Maritimes
September 25-- Maritime sojourn to test focus of Stamps
September 25-- Moncton faces big hurdles, despite grassroots support
September 25-- Talley eager to provide returns in Moncton
September 25-- Stamps bring stockpile of equipment to Moncton
September 25-- Ticats, Stamps touch down in Moncton
September 24-- Metro singer will belt out O Canada at Touchdown Atlantic
September 24-- Ambulance N. B. ready for Touchdown Atlantic
September 24-- Stamps running back may miss game
September 24-- Stamps hope to be seeing red
September 24-- Getting yourself to the big game
September 24-- Sloan to rock Moncton tonight
September 24-- Another touchdown for Metro Moncton
September 24-- Ticats make changes ahead of title with Stampeders and dispatches from TD Atlantic
September 24-- Ticats will adjust to new Stamps rushing attack
September 24-- Ticats-Stampeders Gameday
September 24-- Shoe will be different for Stamps, Ticats
September 23-- Desire is definitely there for a CFL team on East Coast
September 23-- Update from Ticats practice in Moncton
September 23-- TD Atlantic success has Moncton keen for more Ticats action
September 23-- Burris loves his lobster
September 23-- CFL ponders Maritime future
September 23-- Personal Touchdown Atlantic cheering section for Calgarian
September 23-- Angelo Mosca in town for CFL fun
September 23-- Get to know your CFL stars
September 22-- Touchdown Atlantic a big deal - Conn
September 22-- The Ticats vs Stampeders match up as Tim Horton's art
September 22-- Stampeders president impressed with stadium, sight lines
September 22-- Stamps, Ticats making the most of Moncton
September 22-- Former Mountie eager to play in Moncton
September 22-- Stamps in Metro
September 22-- Stamps receiver ain't fishing for grub
September 22-- Moncton gears up for Touchdown Atlantic II
September 22-- Stampeders practice in Moncton ahead of Sunday's match up vs. Ticats
September 22-- Stevie Baggs in Moncton lobby
September 22-- Stamps call in practice "recruits"
September 21-- Busy week ahead for Stamps in Moncton
September 21-- Will the grass be greener for Ticats in Moncton?
September 21-- Home away from home has happened before for Ticats
September 21-- Tasty treat for Stamps
September 21-- Ticats hope to get back on track in Moncton
September 20-- Stamps prepare for Moncton game
August 7-- Halifax can't afford to drop ball on stadium
June 30-- Commissioner Cohon on the state of the CFL
February 24-- Opportune time for CFL expansion: PA boss

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week Thirteen Review (ending September 25)

When the weekend's action came to an end on Sunday, there were but six weeks left in the regular season, two thirds of the 2011 season's returns are now in and it's safe to say that there have been a few surprises along the way.

Week thirteen continued to provide it's moments, including one of the rare occasions of the CFL this year a Toronto Argonaut win.  Reviews of the weekend can be found below.

Montreal at Edmonton

While the Alouettes probably would rather not discover Adrian MacPherson's talents in the way they were forced to on Friday night,  the Montreal backup rose tot he occasion when forced into action on Friday night.

When Anthony Calvillo left the game late in the third quarter after another ferocious Eskimo hit, MacPherson stepped into the huddle and took charge of the Alouette attack for one of the most extended periods of time in recent Als history.

Picking up where Calvillo left off, MacPherson skillfully led the Als down the field and added to the points total as Montreal rolled on to a 34 to 21 victory over the Eskimos, the third straight home loss for the Green and Gold and another egg provided to a large Commonwealth crowd.

Brandon Whitaker accounted for eighteen of the Als 34 points, scoring all three of the Als touchdowns on the night, the remainder of the Alouettes scoring came from the foot of Sean Whyte with a safety adding to the final totals.

The Als defensive squad once again rose to the occasion, shutting down Ricky Ray's offensive attack for the majority of the game, the punctuation mark being their ability to get into the Eskimo backfield to hurry Ray's offensive plans,  limiting the Eskimos ability to execute many of their offensive plays, instead leaving Ray to scramble for safety and or dump off the ball with limited gains.

The Als victory moved them back to within striking distance of the CFL East leading Blue Bombers, by the end of the weekend Montreal would be two points away from catching Winnipeg for the top spot in the east.

The only cloud on the day for Montreal, the status of Anthony Calvillo who appeared to be knocked out cold from the hit  by the Eskimos' Marcus Howard, Calvillo was expressing cautious  optimism that he will be ready for Friday nights match up with the B. C. Lions.

The Esks continuing troubles at home only serve to muddy up the CFL West, both Edmonton and Calgary continue to struggle to put together wins on a consistent basis, while coming up fast from the far west are the B. C. Lions, the CFL's hottest team over the last month and one which suddenly finds itself right in the mix for first in the West with their Alberta relations. Eskimos still fuming over loss to Als
Globe and Mail-- Alouettes close the gap on Bombers
National Post-- Alouettes lose Calvillo, defeat Eskimos
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos Howard sends message to other QBs through Calvillo hit
Edmonton Sun-- Als complete sweep over Eskimos

British Columbia at Saskatchewan

The power shift in the CFL West is coming from across the Rockies, as the B. C. Lions continued on with their dominating ways on Saturday, totally crushing the Saskatchewan Roughriders by a score of 42 to 5, a game which no doubt brought back bad memories for the 30,000 plus faithful at Mosaic Stadium.

The Lions who have been the hottest team in the CFL for over a month now, continued their climb back into the CFL West upper reaches based on another strong game from starting quarterback Travis Lulay and the smothering efforts of the Lions defensive squad.

Saskatchewan which has had some impressive success since Ken Miller returned to the sidelines, took a large step backward on Saturday, seemingly not ready to play, making a number of mental errors that led to Lion opportunities, scoring chances that the Lions gladly accepted and took advantage of.

On both offence and defence the Lions were the vastly superior squad on Saturday afternoon, dismissing the Riders from school early, sending them back to study film and try to make sense of how they returned to their stumbling ways of earlier this year.

In the meantime, with little noise but a lot of commitment, the Lions have suddenly reached the 500 mark, reversing a horrible start to the season with five consecutive victories and a whole lot of momentum, ready to catch up to and pass both the Stamps and Eskimos in the West, two teams where consistent victories seem to be a problem area all of a sudden.

The timing of the Lions surge is a wonderful thing for Lion management, they move into their renovated digs at BC Place this Friday night with the Alouetttes coming to town, with their 5 win streak and top calibre competitor coming to town, the Lions could very well set the bar for high attendance in the CFL so far this year when the take to the field Friday.

For Saskatchewan, all that promise of the Labour Day and Banjo Bowl victories had best be put in the scrapbook, from their efforts (or lack of) on Saturday, it would seem that Ken Miller suddenly has a first hand look at what Greg Marshall had to deal with over the first third of the CFL season, a string of bad habits and a lack of finish and accomplishment marking the main talking points for the Riders practice sessions in the week ahead.

Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Lions impress Edmonton Eskimos coach Kavis Reed
Vancouver Province-- B. C. Lions' romp over Riders shows promising signs for home stretch
Regina Leader Post-- Riders surrender too many big plays in loss to B. C. Lions
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Lions catching fire at right time of season
National Post-- B. C. Lions take a bite out of Roughriders

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Toronto Argonauts

By the time the final whistle went (the real one held by CFL officials) the field at Rogers Stadium resembled the set for the old television show M*A*S*H, you half expected Hawkeye , BJ and Hot Lips to stagger to the centre of the field and bemoan the fate of meatball surgery.

Five quarterbacks found some playing time during the course of the carnage of Saturday's Argos Bombers game,  Winnipeg's Buck Pierce knocked from the game as was his replacement Alex Brink, leaving Bomber fans to rush to the Internet to learn more about Justin Goltz, not a household name around River city we're pretty sure.

All told there were seven Blue Bombers knocked out of action during the course of the game, the most head coach Paul LaPolice had seen in his eleven years of coaching.

The Argos too gave a workout to the training and medical staff, though nowhere near to the levels of service of their Winnipeg counterparts.  Though anxious moments no doubt were felt by coach Jim Barker as Stephen Jyles suffered a stinger to his shoulder, limiting his offensive output towards the end of the game.

Beyond the medical report, the autopsy of the Argos 25 to 24 victory over the Bombers provided for a review of one of the ugliest games in recent CFL history, one filled with strange happenings, a host of  turnovers, and any number of errors from both teams as well as the officiating staff.

A phantom whistle from the crowd allowed a redo for Noel Prefontaine field goal attempt, his first one bounced off the goal post, which would have resulted in a dead ball, but with the whistle from the crowd (if the reported 19,000 strong can be called a crowd) causing confusion, the officials allowed Prefontaine a second chance. another miss but one that resulted in a single point, enough for a victory on a night of comical performance.

The Argo victory while hailed as "one for the good guys" by Barker, had a different interpretation by the Bombers coach LaPolice, who while careful to keep his hand on his wallet over commentary, left no doubt that he wasn't overly impressed by the standard of officiating on the day.

Of more immediate concern now however is probably the state of his battered line up, heading into the final six weeks of the season, the Bombers injury woes are piling up at a most inconvenient time, their loss in Toronto combined with the victory of the Alouettes on the weekend, sets the scene for a CFL East showdown down the stretch, with not only the Als and Bombers in the mix, but perhaps featuring the Tigercats who looked as though they were back in a groove on the weekend.

If it comes down to filling in the holes in the line up, the job for Winnipeg is going to be a little bit harder than for their Eastern rivals, much as he relished the opportunity, we're thinking that fans of the Blue aren't quite ready to rush out and buy their Justin Goltz replica sweaters just yet.

Toronto Star-- Argos win ugly - but at least they win
Toronto Sun-- Twilight zone win for Argos
Winnipeg Free Press- Blue Bombers a banged-up bunch after loss to Argos
Winnipeg Sun-- Whistle-blowing alarms LaPo
Globe and Mail-- Bombers suffer huge offensive loss
National Post-- Argos beat Bombers with last minute single Toronto wins an ugly one

Calgary at Hamilton (at Moncton)

The famous food of the Maritimes was bountiful through the week, a banquet for the visiting gladiators that  once again served to highlight the attachment of the Canadian game in the Atlantic Provinces.

It was a week that featured workshops for amateur football, photo ops for the faithful and a less than full practice schedule for the two squads involved in this years Touchdown Atlantic and by the end of the day on Sunday,  the fans of Atlantic Canada who were excited for the return of the CFL to their region were no doubt singing the praises of the Hamilton Tiger Cats, who put on a clinic of sorts for the Stamps on the way to their convincing 55 to 36 victory.     

Hamilton which had suffered some rather strong lessons of their own over the last two weeks, clearly had this game in focus as a turnaround one, reversing their mistakes of the last few weeks they executed their offensive plays with precision, defensively the mean, snarly Cats were back, making life as difficult as possible for the Henry Burris offence, shutting down the Stamps through most of the game.

Mistakes once again a costly thing for Calgary, whether missed assignments, fumbles or untimely penalties providing the Cats with opportunity after opportunity, something that they took advantage of with frequency.

So frustrating was the day for Burris that he found himself watching the carnage from the sidelines in the fourth quarter, removed from the game after a third quarter interception, though truth be told, if John Hufnagel could have probably had his way, Burris would have had plenty of company on the sidelines watching how bad his team was playing.

The lack of performance from the Stamps has their head coach seeking answers at the wrong time of the year, by the final six games of the year you really shouldn't have to be retraining your squad, it should be more of a case of refining the work in progress.

But with so many inconsistencies in the Stamps this season, it's almost as though the Stamps need a training camp to get back on focus for the rest of the CFL season.

It's a spot not unknown to the Tiger Cats who have struggled over the last few weeks themselves, though you wouldn't have known it from their performance on Sunday, the quickly won over the Moncton crowd with their play.

Tiger Cat football as ferocious as that which the faithful see at Ivor Wynne, Kevin Glenn found his offensive groove early and combined with Marcus Thigpen to put on an offensive display that should provide a fair amount of motivation for the amateur ball players in attendance at Moncton Stadium.

The key for Hamilton now will be to build on their success of Touchdown Atlantic and carry it forward through the remaining six weeks of the season, if they can keep the level of play in mind through October, the race for first in the East is going to be an exciting one, with the Cats in the thick of it through to the end of the season.

Hamilton Spectator-- Speed kills... at least it did in Moncton
Calgary Sun-- Stamps must refocus
Calgary Herald-- Same old mistakes as Ticats score at will against Stamps
Globe and Mail-- Red Alert in Calgary
National Post-- Ticats pummel Stampeders in Moncton Huff questions the mental toughness of his Stamps

Sunday, September 25, 2011

CFL Gameday: Calgary at Hamilton (in Moncton) September 25

Providing they spaced out the timeline between  the Lobster feed and the football game, both the Stampedes and Ti Cats will be hoping for a positive result from today's match up in Moncton.

Touchdown Atlantic returns again this year, with Hamilton and Calgary the guests of honour, a full week of events, occasional practices and more seafood than probably either team has seen for a long, long time, all of the festivities coming to an end with today's game at Moncton stadium.

Hamilton which has been on a losing skid for a couple of weeks now is probably getting a little nervous watching the Alouettes once again pulling away from them in the CFL east, the Als securing second place again yesterday with an eye on first, while the Argos showed signs of life from below with their win over Winnipeg on Saturday, leaving the Cats to have to watch up and down the standings for the final month of October leading into November's playoffs.

Calgary too has been inconsistent of late, interchanging impressive wins with worrisome losses, mental miscues, turnovers and such marking the negatives, while on the other side of that spectrum when the Stamps are good they look very good and dominating, the problem for coach John Hufnagel is he never seems to know which team is coming out on the field on any given day.

The two points up for grabs today could very well be the difference in the last week of October, letting them  slip away could be a most costly thing for one of the two teams in Moncton today.

Game Time 2 PM AT (! ET, 11 MT, 10 PT) TSN

Pre Game

Calgary Sun-- Ticats will adjust to new Stamps rushing attack
Calgary Herald-- Despite festivities, Stamps face must-win game
Hamilton Spectator-- Changes at the secondary
Globe and Mail-- Stamps, Ticats making the most of Moncton
National Post-- Hufnagel plays down Lewis's complaints

Quick Snaps Calgary Stampeders
Quick Snaps Hamilton Tiger Cats 

Post Game

Calgary 36 at Hamilton 55 (at Moncton, NB)
Attendance-- 20,153

Hamilton Spectator-- Thigpen shows his love for Moncton with big game in Ticats 55-36 victory
Calgary Sun-- Stamps stomped in Moncton
Calgary Herald-- Same old mistakes as Ticats score at will against Stamps
Globe and Mail-- Tiger Cats rout Stamps in Moncton
National Post-- Ticats pummel Stampeders in Moncton

Saturday, September 24, 2011

CFL Gameday: Winnipeg at Toronto (September 24)

Two teams in two very different positions, one the toast of the CFL after last week's signature victory of the season over the Alouettes, the other, well for most the Argonauts are just considered CFL toast this season.

Winnipeg brings the swagger thing into Toronto tonight, a Saturday night match that will put the CFL's best team up against the league's most struggling of squads, a game which the Bombers suggest that they aren't taking lightly, bad news for the Argos who might have hoped that Winnipeg might have just thought that mailing in the effort today might be enough.

Instead, the Bombers say they are focused on a Toronto squad that is desperate to show improvement and a team that will be relying of newly installed number one QB Steven Jyles to continue to grab those reins of leadership to move the Double Blue forward.

Since taking over the QB duties from the recently removed Cleo Lemon, Jyles has added a bit of confidence to the Argonaut attack, last week's game in Saskatchewan while still a losing effort for the Argos was a marked improvement from recent efforts, so there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon we imagine for Argo fans (what few Torontonians that apparently will claim this team as their own this year).

For Jyles the Saturday game provides an opportunity to payback his former employers for their lack of confidence, Jyles still carries a wee bit of anger towards the Bombers for the way he was dispatched to Toronto in the off season, this marks his first opportunity to exact a bit of revenge on his one time team mates.

Winnipeg however may be just too large a nut to crack this week, the Bombers having put an exclamation point on the season thus far with last week's win in Montreal will be seeking to keep their distance from the second place Als in place with a win tonight.  Buck Pierce who has had a strong season and answered a few questions of his critics through some hard hitting affairs is the key cog in the Winnipeg offence, should his O line allow him the time to set up he could make the Saturday night match up a long sixty minutes for the Argos.

Game Time 7 ET (6 CT, 4 PT) TSN

Pre Game

Toronto Sun-- Jyles looking for payback
Toronto Star-- Bombers bring swagger back to Winnipeg
Winnipeg Free Press-- Don't blow it, Blue
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers are 'over-dogs'
Globe and Mail-- Revenge factor at play for Argos against Bombers
National Post-- Argos' receiver Rideau on the hot seat

Quick Snaps Toronto Argonauts
Quick Snaps Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Post Game

Winnipeg 24 at Toronto 25
Attendance-- 19,108

Toronto Sun-- Crack in confidence for Bombers
Toronto Star-- Argos  win ugly - but at least they win
Winnipeg Free Press-- Blue banged up in debacle
Winnipeg Sun-- Whistle blowing alrams LaPo
Globe and Mail-- Argos edge battered Bombers
National Post-- Argos beat Bombers with last-minute single

CFL Gameday: British Columbia at Saskatchewan

They are the two hottest teams in the CFL at the moment, a position that nobody probably thought was possible when the Lions and Riders both got off to terrible starts.

When we kicked off the 2011 CFL season, there was much talk about what was wrong with Saskatchewan and British Columbia, the losses kept rolling on through July and into August as the two CFL West teams held the bottom of the division quite closely, watching with a sense of urgency as the Eskimos and the Stamps began to put a fair amount of distance between the upper and lower reaches of the division.

However, the turnaround for both has come with the turn of the calendar from August to September, more so for the Lions who currently ride a four game winning streak, putting that on the line today in Regina against the Riders who hold a three game run on the CFL schedule.

It is perhaps the most important game thus far for both, the prospect of a CFL West playoff position the tantalizing vision just off in the distance, a win for the Lions would solidify their hold on the final spot in the West and give the surging Leos a launching pad for run at second and maybe even first. For the Riders a win will tighten up an already congested West, making October a rally race for placement whether in the division or perhaps for a CFL crossover spot.

The Lions arrive at always loud and very Green Mosaic Stadium riding the hot hand of Travis Lulay, the Lions QB who has found much success through September, bringing a stable of sure handed receivers and a running game that earns every yard. On the Defence the Lions hope to continue to punish opposition squads, adding to their sack totals, forcing errors and turnovers that have been the hallmark of the Leos for the last five or so weeks.

The Riders who have had a remarkable turnaround since the return of Ken Miller to the sidelines are hoping to continue to build on their momentum since the Labour Day wars, this weekend another major test for the Green and White as to whether this is indeed the real deal or just the enthusiasm over a popular coach making his return.

While the records aren't among the best of the league thus far, this is perhaps the weekend's marquee game when it comes to importance.

Game Time 1 PM ST (Noon PT, 3 ET)

Pre Game

Regina Leader Post-- Lions remain Riders' focus
Vancouver Province-- Lions' Marsh may be hard not to notice soon
Vancouver Sun-- Lions to tackle Riders' '13th man' in noisy Taylor Field crowd One day at a time for Riders

Quick Snaps Saskatchewan Roughriders
Quick Snaps British Columbia Lions

Post Game

British Columbia 42 at Saskatchewan 5
Attendance-- 30, 048

Vancouver Sun-- Resurgent Lions crush Roughriders 42-5 for with straight win
Vancouver Province-- Give Buono credit for Lions revival
Regina Leader Post--Darian Duran'ts comments after Riders' 42-5 loss to B. C.
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Lions catching fire at right time of season
National Post-- B. C. Lions take a bite out of Roughriders

Friday, September 23, 2011

CFL Regular Season Week 13

The final weekend of September offers up a snapshot of two divisions that have had similar paths for the most part, the only difference being that in the CFL East the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the most part have remained the dominant team, a small stumble around Labour Day the only real blemish on their record thus far.

Still, despite those back to back losses to Saskatchewan, Winnipeg remains atop the CFL East, having added some distance between themselves and the defending Grey Cup Champs in Montreal.

The rest of the East (with the exception of Toronto which seems to be all but going through the motions at this point) and the West have been up and down, winning and losing, sending their fans home happy or off confused as to where they really are thus far in the year.

Some of that confusion may clear up a bit once the weekend's action is done, some key match ups have important ramifications on potential seeding in the playoff drive of November.  Some teams may add points to their lead, others may fall a little further off the pace, all of it plays out over three days.

Montreal opens up the weekend with a visit to Edmonton, a game which will give us a glimpse as to whether the Als  have regrouped enough to make their annual charge,  or if the Esks will return to their early season form.

Saturday's twin bill features a showdown between the two hot teams of the last few weeks as the Lions head into Mosaic Field to see if they can bring the Riders back down to earth after their success since Labour Day, winning streaks are on the line, so someone is going to see that string come to an end.

The Bombers have the chance to pad their lead atop the CFL East as they make the trip into Toronto, the Argos haven't had a win in many a week now, desperation could be their only motivation these days, the Bombers perhaps should keep that in mind.

The weekend wraps up with a feel good moment, as the CFL returns to Atlantic Canada for their Touchdown Atlantic game, this year featuring the Stamps and the Tiger Cats, two teams that have confounded their fans with their hot and cold moments this season.

Providing they can pull themselves away from the lobster feed, it could be a most pivotal game for either team heading into October.

Friday, September 23-- Montreal 34 at Edmonton 21  (40,274)
Saturday, September 24-- British Columbia 42 at Saskatchewan 5   (30,048) 
Saturday, September 24-- Winnipeg 24 at Toronto 25  (19,108)
Sunday, September 25-- Calgary 36 at Hamilton 55 at Moncton  (20,153 )

Twelve Men Prognostications: Predicted Winners

British Columbia

Weekly Record-- 2 - 4
Overall Record-- 24 -- 48

CFL Gameday: Montreal at Edmonton (September 23)

At the start of the season, considering the start that the two teams were off to, more than a few CFL fans probably wandered along the CFL schedule and circled this date as a major kind of showdown.

But as we've seen through the first twelve weeks of the 2011 season both the Alouettes and Eskimos have provided for more than a few conundrums along the way, from fast starts to sudden losing streaks, both teams have had cause to regroup and rethink during the year.

Friday night's match up at Commonwealth Stadium, might not be the marquee match that the early season suggested, but it still offers up a good measuring stick as to where the two teams are at heading into the home stretch of the CFL season.

Both Anthony Calvillo and Ricky Ray have had opportunity to put lots of points up on the board so far in the years, and equally both have seen games where their offence has sputtered, perhaps an anticipated situation in a rebuilding Eskimo team, but a scenario that at times has raised a few flags of concern over the Alouettes long time domination of the CFL.

Regardless of the past history of the season so far, there are two vital points available to the victor tonight, the Esks can keep their grip on first in the CFL West with a win tonight, while the Als need two points desperately to keep within striking distance of the Blue Bombers.

It makes for the ingredients for a potential Friday night shoot out.

Game Time 7 PM MT ( 9 ET, 6 PT) TSN

Pre Game

Edmonton Sun-- Esks look to turn negative into positive
Edmonton Journal-- O line's hot and cold act just "part of football"
Globe and Mail-- Alouettes look to answer questions with statement game in Edmonton
National Post-- Alouettes' Richardson looks for redemption Esks Laurent knew football, in any language

Quick Snaps Montreal Alouettes
Quick Snaps Edmonton Eskimos

Post Game

Montreal 34 at Edmonton 21 
Attendance 40,274

Edmonton Sun-- Als complete sweep over Eskimos
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos coach shoulders blame for loss to Alouettes
Globe and Mail-- Alouettes close gap on Bombers
National Post-- Alouettes lose Calvillo, defeat Eskimos Back-up leads Montreal to 34-21 win over Eskimos

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CFL Players of the Week - Week 12

Three of our four nominees this week are returning Gibson's winners, finding that their performances in week twelve were worthy of yet another nod by the Gibson's panel.

The Bombers seemingly had the most distractions of the week,  some internal issues to settle, flights to rebook and all of that, but when the final scores came in over the weekend, they were the again on the winning side.

That fact resonated with the Gibson's Player Awards panel, which found Buck Pierce's success at Molson Stadium to be worthy of the top Offensive Player of the Week award.

The return of the Saskatchewan Roughriders once again caught the attention of Gibson's, as Chris McKenzie grabbed the Defensive Player of the Week award. Noel Prefontaine's work for the Argos on the weekend in another losing cause proved to be worthy of the Special Teams award for the week.

And once again Jerome Messam finds himself on the honour rolls at Gibson's, Messam collected the Canadian of the week award, his their award this year so far.

The full review of the awards for week twelve can be found below.

Official website for the Gibson's Player Awards

See video replay here

Offensive Player of the Week
Buck Pierce
Winnipeg Blue Bombers - Quarterback

Defensive Player of the Week
Chris McKenzie
Saskatchewan Roughriders - Defensive Back

Special Teams Player of the Week
Noel Prefontaine
Toronto Argonauts - Kicker/Punter

Canadian Player of the Week
Jerome Messam
Edmonton Eskimos - Running Back

Items of Note

McKenzie headlines Players of the Week
Top Ten plays of Week Twelve
End Zone replay Week Twelve

Gibson's Award Archives for 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week Twelve Review (ending September 18)

Week Twelve's returns provided a glimpse of teams on the upswing and some starting to stall again, a change of momentum that could provide for an interesting race for playoff positioning as the CFL heads into the final month of the regular season in October.

Reviews of the weekend results can be found below.

Edmonton at Hamilton

Consistency is something that the Tiger Cats have been lacking all year, the usual pattern being that the Cats would have one really good game, followed up by a stinker that no one wishes to talk about.  The good news is that the Cats have found some consistency, the bad news, it's going in the wrong direction.

For the second week in a row the Cats were on the wrong end of a score and for the most part were outplayed by the competition, this time the visiting Edmonton Eskimos, who found a fair bit of success on the field at Ivor Wynne Stadium on their way to the 38 to 23 victory.

Edmonton made quick work of the Ticat defence, a trend that seems to be an ongoing concern of late for football fans in Hamilton, as opposing teams rattle off yardage gains in the hundreds and add points by the dozens.

Offensively Hamilton struggled once again, Kevin Glenn never seemed to be in sync with his receivers and found Alouette hands at key times that worked against any Ticat comeback, Avon Cobourne coughed up the ball at a vital moment of the game, a gift that the Eskimos exploited for seven points.

Edmonton's offence found a bit of its direction once again as Ricky Ray read the field well, taking every opportunity provided by the Cats defence to put more points on the board,  resulting in a win, combined with a weekend loss by the Stamps that will tighten up the CFL West once again.

In the meantime, the Cats continue to lose ground in the east, a division which they had a very good chance to move to the top of just a few weeks ago, but with consecutive losses and a suddenly porous defence and anemic offence the Cats are suddenly mired in third with a shot at first place starting to fade off into the distance.

Hamilton Spectator-- Eskimos have Cats for dinner

Toronto at Saskatchewan

Another week and well, it's the same old result for the Argos, another loss in the standings and the prospect of post season action all but a fanciful wish at this point.

The reassurances of the Argo management that coach and GM Jim Barker's job is safe, about the only good thing to happen in Toronto these last few weeks, if only because, firing Barker probably wouldn't do much to change the dynamic at the moment.

Though as GM he has his share of responsibility for the team the Argos have put on the field this year, one which we imagine he thought would have had much more success than their record would show.  However, the Argos just aren't clicking as a unit, half the season lost in a failed experiment to turn Cleo Lemon into a CFL quarterback has left the Argos far behind their competition in each and every CFL city.

That gap was never more in evidence than it was in Saskatchewan on Saturday, up until a few weeks ago the Argos and the Riders were partners in misery, each with but a single win on the CFL season, the Argos able to hold bragging rights of the horrible by the virtue of their win over the Riders.

But with Labour Day now far in the rear view mirror the Riders under returned head coach Ken Miller are on the rise, collecting consecutive wins over three weeks, suddenly very much part of the CFL West playoff picture and chasing down a potential cross over playoff spot if need be.

The Argos in the meantime are off in the dust, bottom dwellers with a record of 2-9 and  in a city that quickly can lose interest in its CFL team if there isn't any kind of winning buzz associated with them.

The Argos were improved on Saturday and seemed to be the dominant team on the afternoon, but in the end they couldn't push the ball over the goal line for the winning points for their third win of the season, finding yet more ways to lose a game that they had a chance to win.

The Argos were deep into the Saskatchewan end of the field four times on Saturday and on each occasion it was up to Noel Prefontaine to provide the points, a total of 12 compared to 28 any team that settles for that kind of margin is not going to be on the winning side of the scoreboard and once again that was the Argo story.

Saskatchewan once again found the points when required, resulting in a 30- 20 Rider victory, though Saturday's game was a test for the Riders who couldn't count on the emotion of the annual back to backs with the Blue bombers to help motivate the troops.

Still, with the prospect of a playoff spot now back on the Rider radar, Saskatchewan made the most of their opportunities, that combined with the Argos problems scoring touchdowns proved good enough to secure the third consecutive victory.

Regina Leader Post-- Riders needed gutsy win

British Columbia at Calgary

If you're looking for a team with a bit of swagger, give some thought to British Columbia, where the Lions have quietly put together a three game winning streak, the third in row coming with an impressive  32 to 19 defeat of the Calgary Stampeders.

The Lions who were among the ranks of the Argos and the Roughriders for the first few months of the season, have been gaining confidence with each week since late August, riding along with quarterback Travis Lulay as they find success and make their run up the CFL West standings.

The best test for the resurgent Lions came this weekend in Calgary, having dispatched their cousins the Argonauts in two consecutive weeks, Saturday's prime time match up with the Stamps offered a much better measuring stick for Wally Buono as to where his team is at heading towards the final month of the season.

And by the time that the full sixty minutes of football was done, Buono probably was relatively happy with the effort, perhaps a little disconcerted over some of their mistakes but thankful for the forward momentum in the standings.

The third quarter offered up some hope for Calgary as the Lions let the Stamps back into the game, Calgary  clawing their way back to within five points, but between the Lions special teams and their defence in the fourth the Stamps couldn't mount enough of a comeback to send the hometown crowd off with a win.

Lions receiver Arland Bruce III seems to be finding his place in the Lions offensive arsenal, scoring the key touchdown in the fourth to put the game away, since joining the Lions in August, Bruce has slowly begun to carve his nice into a team loaded with talented receivers, his presence enough to draw defenders which in the end frees up Geroy Simon or any of the other Lions receivers to make key plays.

The Stamps struggled on both offence and defence, Henry Burris once again did not have a stellar game,  part of a trend which sees him having one good game alternating with a bad one and while blame can't be necessarily assessed just to him, it does seem that as goes Henry so goes the Stamps offence.  

Calgary now moves on to the Touchdown Atlantic festival, where they play the Tiger Cats in Moncton this weekend, the Lions will meet up with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, heading into Mosaic Stadium, putting their winning streak up against that of the Riders.

Winnipeg at Montreal

A few of the players didn't make the team flight, some of the players were getting a little ornery in the media scrums and yet when the scoreboard shut down for the day in Montreal on Sunday, it was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on the winning side.

It was a most interesting result, one that probably most CFL observers probably hadn't anticipated heading into Sunday's game.  

The Als are a juggernaut when playing in the comfy confines of Molson Stadium, losses on the home field a rather rare occurrence, the prospect of the local home crowd heading for the Metro in a foul mood something that doesn't happen all that often.

Combine that with the fact the Bombers had seemed to be losing their focus over the last few weeks, what with the smack downs at the hand of Saskatchewan, the swaggerville strut getting a bit of a knock down and then the much discussed missed flights and snarling media scrums and well, no one probably would have been surprised if the Bombers dropped the ball in Montreal.

However, to their credit, Winnipeg put all of that baggage behind them on their way to the 25 to 23 win, as signature a win as they could have had thus far in the year, a gut check for a team that had been punched in the gut a few times over the last few weeks.

Sunday's game had to be the most rewarding one of the season thus far for head coach Paul LaPolice, with all the distractions, the nervous commentary back in Winnipeg in the background his team went out and made their statement, shutting down the always dangerous Alouette offence and despite some heavy hits administered to the Bombers Buck Pierce, the Winnipeg quarterback continued to impress in an already impressive season.

The game was no cakewalk for the Bombers however, going down to the last minute or so, with the Bomber defence rising to the occasion to keep the Als from putting any go ahead points on the board, Holding onto two valuable points and securing first place once again for another week for the Blue and Gold.

Winnipeg Free Press-- Swaggerville reincarnate