Tuesday, November 29, 2011

There's no feud, like the old feuds...

You have to have a bit of sympathy to both the Lions and the Bombers this weekend, if it wasn't the kids trying to steal away the spotlight, it was the septuagenarians grabbing some of the buzz from Grey Cup Weekend.


The now much documented punch up between Angelo Mosca and Joe Kapp has gone beyond the realm of You Tube, gaining wide exposure in the US, with two high profile appearances one on Monday Night Football featured on Chris Berman's Cmon' Man segment of the weekly Monday Night show.


Berman did pay tribute to some actual Canadian Football later on in the Monday Night show, rolling the highlights of the Bombers/Lions game during the half time three minute reel,  but for entertainment value it would seem that the slug fest of the seventy somethings was the main attraction.

One of the other  notable mentions was on the on Fox News prime time program with Shepard Smith, who featured the dust up as his closing item on his 7 pm news program.

Beyond that, we're pretty sure it made a wide range of "local" sports casts across America over the last few days.

While the actual nastiness does in reflection seem kind of foolish, at the moment we have no doubt of the earnest nature of both men, who clearly still carry the burden of animosities some forty years old now.

You have to wonder what Willie Fleming would think of it all.

There indeed is no feud like an old feud.

Makes you kind of wonder just what it takes to make someone snap and who might next make it to the YouTube roll of fame...

The 99th Grey Cup

He was the Most Outstanding Player of the year in the CFL and by the time the Grey Cup would come to an end, Travis Lulay would be named the Most Outstanding Player of the game, but in the first half there were moments when Lions fans must have been wondering what was going on with their rising star.

The Lions quarterback missed on a few chances to put the Bombers away for good in the first half, a string of throws that went high and away brought the Lions march towards their championship to a halt a few times, resulting in two and outs and stalled drives.

As things turn out, Lulay wasn't playing at 100 percent, banged up in last week's Western Final he came into the championship game with a fair share of his own bumps and bruises, not enough however to keep him out of the lineup, finally getting untracked in the second half, more confident and more accurate.

The 99th Grey Cup was the defensive game anticipated, the Bombers D holding the tide of the Lions attack off, keeping their squad at least close for a possible comeback, one which in the end came up about four yards too short on a last minute onside kick for field position.

Before those dramatics however it seemed as though the Lions were on the cusp of blowing the roof off of the newly refurbished BC Place,  the 14-6 lead at half time not telling the full story of the Lions control, but  as documented a lack of finish in the red zone left points on the board heading into the half time Nickelback break.

While the Canadian rockers rattled off a few selections of their library, the Bombers were making adjustments to their game plan, one which had seen an anemic offence incapable of taking advantage of their teams defensive work.

Up until the fourth quarter all of the Bomber points came off the foot of kicker Justin Palardy, who went 3 for 3 on the day in field goals.

The Lions came out of the half time break much more focused on their offensive output, Lulay suddenly finding his range and accuracy hooking up with Kierire Johnson and Arland Bruce for touchdowns.

The Bombers could have seen the entire game turn around if not for a bobbled interception off the fingers of Odell Willis, who had his hands on a Travis Lulay pass and had nothing but empty field in front of him to the Lions end zone, but as fate would dictate it was not his time to make the game changing play.

Instead, the Lions kept possession and sent the ball down filed, leaving the Bombers to formulate another attempt at a long field drive.

As time was winding down in the fourth the Bombers did make things closer, a pair of quick TD passes  with less than four minutes to play from Buck Pierce brought the Bombers to within eight points.

The failed onside kick attempt, spelled the end of the Bombers comeback bid, Paul McCallum sealed the Lions win with a final Field Goal marking the final score BC 34 , Winnipeg 23 and with that the Lions would claim their  sixth Grey Cup, their first in front of a home crowd since 1994.

A remarkable end to a season that started off with many questions, as the Lions staggered out of the first quarter of the schedule, falling to 0 and 5 from the Canada Day weekend season kick off and then turning around 180 degrees to lay claim to the CFL West title and now the Grey Cup.

The Bombers who took the early charge in the first half of the season struggled towards the end, grasping first place in the East more to the lack of focus of the Alouettes than of their own domination, still with their berth in the Grey Cup came acknowledgment of their success this year, one which offers up hope of better years to come perhaps.

99 Grey Cups are now in the books, Number 100 destined for Toronto in 2012. An event we imagine that will come with all trappings of a centennial celebration and with a little luck a championship game to mark such an occasion.

Vancouver Province-- The case for CFL coach of the year
Vancouver Province-- Timely Grey Cup TD for energized Johnson
Vancouver Province-- Bombers thought they had Arland Bruce figure out - wrong
Vancouver Province-- Heartbroken Bomber Brown leaves game without a Grey Cup win
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Lions post rare Grey Cup triumph in front of hometown fans
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Lion put the dagger in Swaggerville
Vancouver Sun-- Lions provide sporting cheer, happiness
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Lions' Andrew Harris a Grey Cup all- Canadian
Vancouver Sun-- Bombers quiet, sombre and defeated
Vancouver Sun-- The best defence "proved it" in Grey Cup
Vancouver Sun-- Parting shot at B. C. Lions from "Braggerville" resident...
Vancouver Sun-- Bruce promoting 'real deal' Lulay
Winnipeg Free Press-- Bomber faithful welcome team home
Winnipeg Free Press-- Worst to first, but still cursed
Winnipeg Free Press-- QB wears the goat's horns
Winnipeg Free Press-- Mr. Brown is feeling down
Winnipeg Free Press-- Don't be mad, be pumped for 2012
Winnipeg Free Press-- Lions down Bombers 34-23
Winnipeg Free Press-- Lions roar with excitement after beating Winnipeg to win the Grey Cup
Winnipeg Free Press-- Blue Bombers with long faces return home to cheering fans despite loss
Winnipeg Free Press-- Average audience of 4.6 million viewers watch Lions beat Bombers
Winnipeg Sun-- Buck: I need to be better
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers close but so far away
Winnipeg Sun-- Lions share a special bond
Winnipeg Sun-- Grey Cup to remember
Winnipeg Sun-- Decision time looming for Bombers
Winnipeg Sun-- Heroes' welcome for Bombers
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers offence disappoints again
Winnipeg Sun-- Blue "Season for the ages" falls short
Winnipeg Sun-- Lions prove championship mettle
Winnipeg Sun-- The stats tell the story Grey Cup 2011
Winnipeg Sun-- "Bad day to have my worst game"
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers forget their lines again
Winnipeg Sun-- Recurring nightmare for Bombers
Winnipeg Sun-- Crushing finish to Hall of Fame career
Winnipeg Sun-- Lulay spreads wealth around
Globe and Mail-- Why B. C. Lions core is built for more
Globe and Mail-- Despite Grey Cup loss, Bombers cheered on return to Winnipeg
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Lions win the Grey Cup
Gobe and Mail-- Bombers can't penetrate Lions Orange wall
Globe and Mail-- How Bombers' Swaggerville became Staggerville
Globe and Mail-- Grey Cup blog
Globe and Mail-- Eastern Canada tunes out of all- West Grey Cup
Globe and Mail-- 4.6 million viewers watch 99th Grey Cup
National Post-- B. C. Lions cap season of parity as Grey Cup champions
National Post-- Less than perfect, but B. C. Lions good enough to win Grey Cup

The Kids put on quite the show

Canada's weekend festival of football got off to a rollicking start at BC Place on Friday night as the McMaster Marauders and the Laval Rouge et Or put on a fascinating battle for Canadian college football supremacy.

The Marauders totally dominated the Laval squad in the first half, a most convincing bit of football that Laval probably hadn't seen in its previous five CIS championship games, Hamilton's university team racked up the points and shut down Laval's much vaunted offence, sending shock waves back into the dark of night in Quebec, where the Rouge Et Or have become the Gold Standard of the Quebec conference.

Head coach Glen Constantine, seemed a bit lost for words as he headed off to the dressing room to talk to his troops, but whatever he cooked up between the first half ending interview and the return of the Rouge et Or to the field must have been one heck of a speech.

In the second half, Laval came out on fire, chipping away at the McMaster lead, gaining back yardage, collecting points and setting the Marauders back on their heels in the final thirty minutes, the shock of a huge lead disappearing etched on the faces of the McMaster players in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Still, McMaster didn't surrender, even when near disaster reared up its head with a potentially game winning last minute field goal attempt by Tyler Crapigna going wide and taken out of the Laval end zone, setting the scene for one of the wildest of playoff finishes that any league has ever seen.

The teams traded off scoring plays in a double overtime session, the hopes of Laval finally dashed with an interception by McMaster's Steven Ventresca and a follow up field goal of redemption for the McMaster kicker, who found his range and put the Marauders into the CIS history books with a 41-38 Vanier Cup victory.

It very much was two games played in sixty minutes plus, one half belonging totally to McMaster, the defending CIS champs from Laval owning the final frame, the rubber match of the championship was the Overtime, which McMaster seemed to will itself to win after their  second half collapse.

It was a testament to Laval's championship status that they battled back and a celebration of the McMaster program which has been building in Ontario.  The Marauders head coach,  clearly understands what his team needed to do to wrestle the championship away from Laval, though he probably had hopes that it wouldn't result in a nail biter of a final as Friday provided.

The game made for a wonderful showcase of the Canadian game, offering up to football fans a reminder that there is some great football for the viewing in their hometowns, as close as the nearest university campus.

The path to Vancouver's Vanier Cup showcase provided for some great playoff action over the last few weeks, from all corners of the country, Canadian football was showcased at a very high level, the eventual participants in Friday's finale, having taken a pretty tough road to get there.

Prior to the Vanier Cup there was some talk of a super conference of the top teams of the CIS, a pretty tempting option considering what Friday night brought for us.

Still, the success of the CIS is the spirit of competition and community that all of the CIS teams bring forward each season, hopefully if the Super Conference idea ever takes flight, there will also be a way to keep the game resonant on campuses across the nation.

Friday offered up some snapshots of what should be some key players of the future for the CFL, in particular the ever evolving nature of the Canadian Quarterback question seems to need some push at the professional level.

Watching the performances of McMaster's Kyle Quinlan,  and Laval's Bruno Prud'homme, in addition to the success of Hec Crighton winner Billy Greene from UBC, the pivot position in Canadian college football is in good hands, one hopes that there's an opportunity to come in the CFL for Canadian QB's to have their shot at CFL success, as we saw on Friday, there's some entertaining football to be had, if only a chance is provided.

TSN-- Vanier Cup thriller attracts large audience on TSN and RDS
TSN-- McMaster wins first Vanier Cup 
TSN-- Grey Cup Diary: CIS, Vanier Cup steals the show on Friday
Hamilton Scores-- Vanier Cup efforts bring Marauders more honours
Hamilton Spectator-- Mac Marauders their way to the Vanier Cup
Hamilton Spectator-- 'One of the greatest games' ever seen
Hamilton Spectator-- Marauders make history
Hamilton Spectator-- McMaster Marauders make triumphant return
CTV-- A Vanier Cup for the ages
Vancouver Province-- Marauders' double trouble for Laval
Toronto Sun-- McMaster wins Vanier Cup in double overtime
Toronto Sun-- Winning matters, owners don't
Globe and Mail-- McMaster stops Laval in Vanier Cup thriller

Standing out on the wide field (CFL edition)

In the lead up to the 99th Grey Cup, the CFL and its fans gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Thursday night to recognize achievement and excellence in this 2011 season.

The Gibson's Finest Awards were distributed at the CFL's gala event Thursday night, an evening which brought both college and professional played together in celebration of the three down game.

The Gibson's award nominees and winners were:

Outstanding Player

Anthony Calvillo, Quarterback, Montreal Alouettes
Travis Lulay, Quarterback, British Columbia Lions

Winner-- Travis Lulay, Quarterback, British Columbia Lions

Defensive Player

Jovon Johnson, Defensive Back, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Jerrell Freeman, Linebacker, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Winner-- Jovon Johnson, Defensive Back, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Top Canadian

Jerome Messame, Running Back, Edmonton Eskimos
Sean Whyte, Kicker, Montreal Alouettes

Winner-- Jerome Messam, Running Back, Edmonton Eskimos

Outstanding Special Teams Player

Paul McCallum, Kicker, British Columbia Lions
Chad Owens, Kick Returner, Toronto Argonauts

Winner-- Paul McCallum, Kicker, British Columbia Lions

Most Outstanding Rookie

JC Sherritt, Linebacker, Edmonton Eskimos
Chris Williams, Wide Receiver, Hamilton Tiger Cats

Winner-- Chris Williams, Wide Receiver, Hamilton Tiger Cats

Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman

Jovan Olafioye, Offenseive Lineman, British Columbia Lions
Josh Bourke, Offensive Lineman, Montreal Alouettes

Winner-- Josh Bourke, Offensive Lineman, Montreal Alouettes.

Tom Pate Memorial Award
Kevin Glenn, Quarterback, Hamilton Tiger Cats

Commissioner's Award
Larry Reda

Full reviews of the nominees can be found here, details on the award winners can be found here.

The CFL's 2011 All Stars were announced last week, the list of those players can be found here.

Vancouver Sun-- B.C. Lions QB Lulay named CFL's most outstanding player
The Province-- Lion King: Lulay named CFL's most outstanding player
TSN--  Gibson's Finest Player Awards
Toronto Star-- Lions quarterback Lulay captures CFL's outstanding player award
The Score-- Lions QB Travis Lulay wins CFL's outstanding player award
Globe and Mail-- Lions' Travis Lulay wins CFL MVP
Sportsnet-- Lulay's efforts rewarded
CTVBC-- Lions' Lulay captures CFL's outstanding player award
CBC-- Lions QB Lulay named CFL's outstanding player
Canada.com-- Rising Star Lulay named CFL's Most Outstanding player
Canada.com-- Emotional venting over award nominations
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers' Johnson named top defensive player

Standing out on the wide field (college edition)

Prior to the weekend's festivities on the football field, the CFL and the CIS honoured those athletes that excelled in their respective leagues this season.

Both the pro game and the college game had many stand out moments this past season, featuring a collection of players that rose to the top of the lists from coast to coast.

The celebration of football excellence took place on Thursday night with a combined Awards show, recognizing the best in Professional and college football in Canada.

Looking at the potential stars of tomorrow for the CFL,  the CIS award nominees and winners were:

Hec Crighton Trophy
Player of the Year

Atlantic- Kyle Graves, QB, Acadia
RSEQ- Simon Charbonneau-Campeau, WR, Sherbrooke
OUA- Michael DiCroce, WR, McMaster
CWUAA-- Billy Greene, QB, UBC

Winner- Billy Greene, QB, (UBC)

Presidents' Trophy
Defensive Player of the Year

AUS- Tom Labenski, LB, Acadia
RSEQ- Max Caron, LB, Concordia
OUA- Ryan Chmielewski, LB, McMaster
CWUAA-- Sam Hurl, LB, Calgary

Max Caron, LB (Concordia)

J. P. Metras Trophy 
Outstanding down lineman

AUS- Jake Thomas, Defensive Tackle, Acadia
RSEQ- Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, Defensive End, Laval
OUA- Osie Ukwuoma, Defensive End, Queen's
CWUAA- Akiem Hicks, Defensive End, Regina

Winner-- Arnaud Gascon-Nadon (Laval)

Peter Gorman Trophy
Rookie of the Year

AUS- Jacob Leblanc, Defensive Tackle, Mount Alison
RSEQ- Jeremi Doyon-Roch, QB, Sherbrooke
OUA- Tyler Varga, Running Back, Western Ontario
CWUAA- Jordan Arkko, offensive lineman, Saskatchewan

Winner-- Tyler Varga, Running Back, Western Ontario

A full review of the College side of the Awards, including interviews with the nominees and winners can be found here.

The CIS also announced it's 2011 edition of the All Canadian Teams, that list can be found here.

The Province-- Hec Crighton Award winner: UBC's Billy Greene honoured with ...
Vancouver Sun-- UBC pivot Billy Greene claims Hec Crighton as CIS top player
Globe and Mail-- UBC's Billy Greene collects Hec Grighton Trophy
Ubyssey-- UBC pivot Billy Greene named CIS MVP wins Hec Crighton trophy
Toronto Sun-- Best in the CFL, CIS
TSN-- UBC Quarterback Greene wins Hec Crighton Trophy
Canada.com-- UBC's Greene named Hec Crighton winner
Toronto Star-- UBC pivot Greene wins Hec Crighton Trophy
The Score-- UBC's Greene wins Hec Crighton Trophy
24H Vancouver-- UBC's Greene wins Hec Crighton

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The 2011 Grey Cup

From the training camps of May we arrive at the final game of the 2011 season, a showdown between East and West, featuring the two teams that through the test of the 2011 season came out on top of their respective divisions.

The Bombers and Lions join in the battle Sunday afternoon, the 99th contest for Lord Earl Grey's Cup, a much anticipated showcase of two of the leagues top defensive squads, two teams that at times looked unbeatable, the Bombers at the start of the season, the Lions at the end of it.

Both have had slumps, the Lions in particular suffering a skid that by the end of July had many wondering if Wally Buono may finally have come to the end of his reign as one of the CFL's longest serving head coaches.

Buono's team turned around a horrible season starting in August and never looked back, rattling of win after win, introducing CFL fans to a fellow named Travis Lulay, who simply went on to shine brightly in this 2011 season.

The Bombers, led by Buck Pierce, made their stand for first in the East a number of times, all be it backing in to first on the final week of the season, but then claiming the Eastern title in a most convincing fashion against the Tiger Cats last week.

That victory brings them into the Lions Den, where Vancouver stands ready to celebrate a national championship should their Lions prove victorious by games' end.  The culmination of a pretty good little party over the last few days, with more than a few surprising events along the way to keep things interesting to say the least! (to name a few, a wild Vanier Cup and what seems like a WWE exhibition between Joe Kapp and Angela Mosca )

But today the focus is on the end of the CFL season, an entertaining five months that brought saw a bit of a change of the guard from perennial  champions and offers a few concerns for the league's largest market,  though for today all is put on the back burner to watch the Lions and the Bombers settle the question of who will be champion for 2011.

The CFL has always been thought of as a scoring game, highlight reel tosses, lengthy rambles, lots of points, for this Grey Cup, there may indeed be a bit of scoring, but in the end, as it has all season, it will depend on how the Lions and Bombers' defences stack up that will tell us the tale of this 99th Grey Cup.

Game Time 3:30 PT, 5:30 CT, 6:30 ET  BC Place Stadium, TSN


Vancouver Province-- Preparation time is over, time to play the game
Vancouver Sun-- Battle of the big boys will likely decide Sunday champion
Winnipeg Free Press-- The deck may be stacked but history says...
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers ready to make it happen
Globe and Mail-- Grey Cup quarterbacks have on shot at glory
National Post-- Lions, Blue Bombers comes down to defence

Quick Snaps BC Lions
Quick Snaps Winnipeg  Blue Bombers

Twelve Men Prognostication

British Columbia 30
Winnipeg 24

Playoff record 4 - 4
Overall Regular Season Record 40 -72


Winnipeg 23 at British Columbia 34
Attendance-- 54,313

Vancouver Province-- Lions defence set the table for Grey Cup feast
Vancouver Sun-- BC Lions post rare Grey Cup triumph in front of hometown fans
Winnipeg Free Press-- Worst to first, but still cursed
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers close but so far away
Globe and Mail-- Bombers can't penetrate Lions Orange wall
National Post-- Less than perfect, but B. C. Lions good enough to win Grey Cup
Toronto Star-- Lulay, Lions roar to victory inn 99th Grey Cup
Canada.com-- Lions defeat Bombers to win Grey Cup at home

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CFL Divisional Finals

The road to the Grey Cup is almost complete and for one team, the drive to work won't be a very tough one.

The British Columbia Lions, hosts of this years Grey Cup punched their ticket into the national championship, with a convincing victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday, the back end of the two game eliminations to determine our Grey Cup participants.

In the east, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers overwhelmed the Hamilton Tiger Cats,  showing some of that early season form that many CFL fans watched week after week.

The divisional finals, perhaps weren't as entertaining as the previous week's semi-finals, but in the end the two teams that most deserved their berth in the Grey Cup came through with the wins, the path to those victories can be reviewed below.

Hamilton at Winnipeg

Prior to the Bombers/Cats divisional final, much was made about the departure of Terence Jeffers-Harris, the square peg that just wouldn't fit into round hole of team chemistry that Paul LaPolice was trying to build in Winnipeg.

Jeffers-Harris was dismissed from further duties with the Bombers in the days leading up to the Western Final and in a move that did raise eyebrows but seemingly was cleared by the league, the Hamilton Tiger Cats picked him up. And while he would not be allowed to play in the Eastern final, his arrival in the camp of the Tiger Cats was hailed by the Cats as a great move, bringing with him what was thought to be much knowledge of the Bombers game plan.

If so, it seemed pretty clear by the first quarter that whatever plans Jeffers-Harris might have relayed to his newfound friends in Hamilton, weren't current ones, or perhaps TJ didn't pay as much attention as he might have thought.

At any rate, the Bombers with Buck Pierce back in the line up had little trouble dispatching the Tiger Cats, the highly touted Bomber defence wreaking havoc with the Cats offensive play.  Ultimately sending  Kevin Glenn to the sidelines incapable of playing any further due to injury, the curse of Canad Inn stadium rising up to ruin Glenn's dreams of a Grey Cup trip once again (the last time he was a member of the Blue Bombers).

The Bombers offence provided a return to form for Pierce, who without fear took to his feet to claim key first downs, showing leadership to an offence that has struggled at times, but not when it counted the most so far this season.

But the real story for the Bombers in their 19-3 victory was their defence, one of the tops in the CFL (the other being British Columbia) the Blue defenders for the most part shut down any thoughts the Cats might have had of playing football further into November.

With the exception of a field goal, the Cats were shut out, swarmed, pummelled and hit time after time, the Cats could gain no momentum, delivering another inconsistent performance, part of a trend all year long where one amazing game (in this case last week's semi final) would be followed by a dog of an effort that leaves one to wonder as to the fate of a number of players and the coaching staff.

But that's talk for the off season, there's still one more game to go, the biggest one on the CFL calendar and this year the East will be represented by the Bombers, as it should.

They were one of the top teams in the CFL through the year, even during their slumps, they remained competitive, their defence for the most part carrying them through the dark patches, now it carries them on to Vancouver for Sunday's season finale.

Winnipeg Free Press-- Cup beckons Brown, Buck
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers all out blitz: A fine stadium send off
Hamilton Spectator-- Bombers freeze out Ticats 19-3
Globe and Mail-- Blue Bombers bound for Grey Cup
National Post-- Defensive battle sends Blue Bombers to Grey Cup over Ticats

Edmonton Eskimos at British Columbia

Always a class act, Wally Buono, the sage of CFL coaches, began his post game interview by praising the work of his opponent on Sunday, outlining the many assets that Kavis Reed brought to his Eskimos this season, all of the comments heart felt and correct, but for all his hard work and achievement through the year, on this Sunday in November Reed's team came up second best and with their convincing 40-23 divisional victory, the Lions put the exclamation mark on their return to prominence this year.

The Lions who as has been noted through the year started out this season in horrendous fashion, continued their remarkable turn around with a crushing defeat of the rising Eskimos, leaving no doubt that they were the best the CFL West had to offer, once they got the early season malaise out of the way.

The comeback season which began in August, brought us the debut of Travis Lulay as one of the CFL's top quarterbacks, a title that he provided ample evidence towards with a definitive performance in the Western Final.

Lulay threw for touchdowns, among the most poignant a highlight reel toss to Geroy Simon providing an emotional moment with bereaved trainer Bill Reichelt, when he wasn't throwing the ball he was controlling the clock and running for yardage including, his own long distance trot for a TD. providing for as complete a game as the Lions have provided for all year.

On defence, as has been the case since August, the Lions were a force to be reckoned with, they shut down Ricky Ray for the most part, the absence of Jerome Messam and his running game clearly a minus in the Eskimo playbook in the Western final.

Timely interceptions snuffed any thoughts the Eskimos might have had of launching any kind of a comeback, but in reality, what points they did obtain really only helped make the game look respectable, for the most part they were outplayed in all aspects of the game.

The Lions win, sets up the opportunity for BC to win the Grey Cup in their own stadium in front of what should be a loud and boisterous sold out crowd, bringing life to BC Place and perhaps if the fates shall allow it, taking some of the bad vibes of the Canucks' loss in the NHL playoffs of the spring.

Of course, the Bombers will have designs on changing that narrative, it's a big task ahead of them, clearly the underdog as they make the journey from Manitoba to the heart of Lions country, but a resilient team they have been all year, so perhaps they have one more win left in their repertoire, Sunday will give us an idea on that, offering up the hope of a fairly entertaining cap to the CFL season.

Vancouver Province-- Lions D line crushes Esks
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Lions roll to 40-23 win in CFL West Final
Edmonton Journal- Lulay leads charge as Lions tear apart Eskimos
Edmonton Sun-- Esks fell short of goal: Reed
Globe and Mail-- Lions crush Eskimos in West Final
National Post-- Lions stomp Eskimos, will host Winnipeg in Grey Cup

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CFL Gameday: Edmonton at British Columbia (November 20)

The latest of the cotillion balls for Travis Lulay continues on at BC Place today, the Lions starting quarterback who has seen his star rise through the season can take another step towards the upper reaches of the CFL's players lists today with a Lions victory and berth in next weeks Grey Cup.

Lulay who has had a meteoric rise in the last half of the CFL regular season has been receiving the praise and accolades as the Lions reversed a woeful start to enter the Finals as the CFL's hottest team, in from the cold reaches of Northern Alberta however is a cold front desiring to bring an end to the party on the west coast as the Edmonton Eskimos, themselves a pretty good story this CFL season seek to gain the Western berth for next week's grand national finale.

The Eskimos have made believers of many this year, Kavis Reed's stellar handling of a team that was supposed to be in a rebuilding phase, has been a thing to watch.  He clearly has the respect and attention of his squad and with it has built a cohesive group that have Edmontonians once again reflecting back on the days when it was just natural that an Eskimo team would be deep into the playoffs.

He goes up against one of the legends of CFL football today in Wally Buono, who never lost faith in his team in the early going when the losses rolled along one after the other until August when the Lions finally clicked and began their remarkable march to the playoffs.

That success coincided with the arrival of Lualy as a CFL quarterback, a confident leader that just seems to make things happen, add on a string of all star calibre receivers, hard running backs and a strong defensive squad that doesn't seem to like to give up points and Buono's team today probably is the one he planned to put together in the spring.

Still, there is one spot where the Lions failed and the Esks excelled and that was coaxing out a season long performance from running back Jerome Messam, he left the Lions under a cloud deemed not one to be part of the team picture, under the guidance of Reed, Messam became one to the major stories of the past regular season.  Gathering up yardage at a record clip, scoring highlight reel touchdowns and announcing his arrival as one of the league's most exciting players.

That was all Reed, who found the right combination to spur Messam on to more, normally that would set up a pretty good sub plot today's game, the spurned running back coming back to show his old team what a mistake they made, however, this year that's a storyline that won't develop, Messam, injured in last weeks semi final with Calgary won't be in the line up today, his season done with injury.

Still, he most likely will factor into the game somehow, the Eskimos in a final for the first time since 2005 will be feeding off his energy and adding in their own in the quest to become the representatives of the West next week, taking over the Lions locker room as home team at BC Place for the Grey Cup.

The Western Final will also provide us with a look at Ricky Ray's encore performance, lost in the Eskimo slide of the last few years, Ray, now surrounded with hard working and motivated team mates has once again been among one of the key leaders on a very confident Eskimo team.

The quiet, studious quarterback led his team through the early season to victory after victory, weathered the rough patches mid season and now with a championship shot but one win away seems more than focused on taking his team on to the final game of November.

Eskimo - Lions games of the past have provided for much in the way of entertainment, a study in coaching strategy and outstanding player performance, you have a feeling we won't be disappointed by the end of the game today.

Game Time 1 PM PT ( 2MT, 4 ET)  TSN

Pre Game

Vancouver Province-- First win over Eskimos turned season around
Vancouver Sun-- CFL West final on Lions players' backs, not Buono's
Edmonton Journal-- Now it's down to Eskimos, Lions players 
Edmonton Sun-- 'I hate Edmonton': Buono
Globe and Mail-- Kavis Reed: The Eskimos' gridiron doctor
National Post-- Lions veterans can leave legacy by turning success into ring

Quick Snaps BC Lions
Quick Snaps Edmonton Eskimos

Post Game

Edmotnon 23 at British Columbia 40
Attendance-- 41,313

Vancouver Province-- Lulay, Harris carry Lions to home Grey Cup
Vancouver Sun-- BC Lions roll to 40-23 win in CFL West Final
Edmonton Journal-- Reed proud of what his young team accomplished this season
Edmonton Sun-- Leos crush Eskimos 40-23
Globe and Mail-- Lions crush Eskimos in West final
National Post-- Lions Stomp Eskimos, will host Winnipeg in Grey Cup

CFL Gameday: Hamilton at Winnipeg (November 20)

The opening act of our Divisional finals, provides more than a few bad feelings and a dash of intrigue as the Hamilton Tiger Cats take on the Eastern Division champs the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the final game to be played at Canad Inn Stadium.

The Cats arrived in the Eastern Final after last weeks thriller in Montreal, where they eliminated the Grey Cup Champions and put out the final word  on that long running CFL dynasty.

And while the game already had more than a few sub plots to make things interesting, the Cats added some more fuel for a CFL fire, when they added former Blue Bomber Terrence Jeffers-Harris their squad, even if he can't play in the Eastern Final.

Jeffers-Harris became available after a number of Blue Bomber code of conduct violations, a situation that seemingly left the Bombers with little recourse but to cut him adrift, only to watch him be picked up by their Sunday competition.

The Bombers see the Ticats behaviour as treacherous, the Cats just say they outsmarted their genial hosts for the weekend.

It's a strange little rule that perhaps the CFL should investigate a little further for future years, leaving the league open to a bit of embarrassment over the prospect of a player leaving one team for another just prior to the biggest game of the year for both, maybe bring a peek at the playbook or maybe not.

At any rate, it's made for an interesting distraction over the week and sets up a fascinating sub plot to Sunday's game.

As for the actual product on the field, the Cats with their explosion on offence of last week clearly remember how to score now, though their defence perhaps could use a bit of work on stopping the other team's efforts a little more diligently.

They bring their offensive display led by former Blue Bomber Quarterback Kevin Glenn into the home of one of the toughest of defences in the CFL.

The Bomber on the other hand will once again have Buck Pierce back in the lineup, looking for a chance to move on to the Grey Cup and the chance to return to Vancouver and show his former team his skill set is still strong as field leader of the Bombers.

Sub plots, duplicity and some good old fashion life and death football it all  sets the stage for what could be a fairly entertaining Eastern Final

Game Time Noon MT ( 10 AM PT, 1 PM ET) TSN

Pre Game

Winnipeg Free Press-- Buck's heart Blue - Bomber Blue, that is
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers aren't worried about T. J.
Hamilton Spectator-- Playoff savvy Thigpen a real danger for Blue Bombers
Globe and Mail-- Bombers' Pierce ready to step up in CFL East final
National Post-- Bombers' Brown has one more chance to get it right

Quick Snaps Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Quick Snaps Hamilton Tiger Cats

Post Game

Hamilton 3 at Winnipeg 19
Attendance-- 30,051

Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers all-out blitz: A fine stadium send off
Winnipeg Free Press-- Garrett lifts Blue Bombers to 19-3 win over Hamilton in East Division Final
Hamilton Spectator-- Bombers freeze out Ticats, 19-3
Globe and Mail-- Blue Bombers bound for Grey Cup
National Post-- Defensive battle sends Blue Bombers to Grey Cup over Ticats

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Divisional Finals (November 20)

Four teams remain in the hunt for the Grey Cup, setting the stage for a Sunday of football that will determine who moves on and who packs up in this 2011 season.

In the east, the surprise of the playoffs thus far will be the arrival of the Hamilton Tiger Cats at Canad Inn Stadium, the farewell game at the old stadium will feature the battered and bruised Blue Bombers hosting the team the dethroned the Grey Cup champion Alouettes.

Hamilton which has been hot and cold all year, is hoping that they're on full boil as they try to knock those Grey Cup dreams from Swaggerville.

In Vancouver, the Lions will be home to what they hope will be a large and boisterous crowd, ready to celebrate the remarkable surge of the final half of the season, on the other side of the ball will be the Eskimos, a team that was supposed to be in a rebuilding year, but instead looked for a good portion of the regular season as a polished squad ready to reclaim Edmonton's traditional role as champions in the CFL.

The Eskimos always play the Lions tough, coming in after last weeks semi final victory over the Stamps the Eskies have the benefit of a full contact showcase last weekend to build on, the Lions on the other hand  have had the opportunity to rest, sometimes a good thing, sometimes not.

We'll find out which of the four teams is best prepared and which two of the four will still have some football to play by the end of Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, Nov 20-- Hamilton 3 at Winnipeg 19 (A-30,051)
Sunday, Nov 20-- Edmonton 23 at British Columbia 40  (A-- 41,313

Twelve men Prognostications: Predicted Winners

British Columbia

Weekly Record 2 - 2
Playoff record 4 - 4
Overal Regular Season Record 40 -- 72

Winners advance to the Grey Cup in Vancouver November 27

Globe and Mail-- CFL Playoff picks
National Post-- Road to the Grey Cup: Breaking down the CFL Divisional finals
Vancouver Sun-- This Grey Cup final four highlights a unique CFL season

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Stars that were shining brightly in 2011

As we head into the Divisional Finals this weekend, the CFL celebrated those players that impressed throughout the year, making it to the ultimate in recognition as CFL All Stars for 2011.

League balloting, head coach reviews and input from the Football Reporters of Canada were combined to tally up the list, a preamble for the league's Most Outstanding Player Awards which will be revealed during Grey Cup week in Vancouver.

Not surprising, considering their last season surge, the BC Lions led the All Star parade with 9 spots claimed on the 24 all star listings this year.  With their outstanding work all season long, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive corps were next on the list with 4 of the 5 Winnipeg all star spots.

The remaining six teams split up the rest of the all star spots on this years all star roster.

Of the 27 All Stars named to the CFL All Star listings this year, eight were Canadian, 19 were imports.

This years All Stars include:
( I - denotes import, C- Canadian)


Quarterback-- Travis Lulay - BC Lions (I)
Running Back-- Jerome Messam -- Edmonton Eskimos (C)
Running Back-- Brandon Whitaker -- Montreal Alouettes (I)
Receiver-- Nik Lewis - Calgary Stampeders (I)
Receiver -- Jamel Richardson-- Montreal Alouettes (I)
Receiver-- Geroy Simon -- BC Lions (I)
Receiver-- Fred Stamps -- Edmonton Eskimos (I)
Tackle-- Josh Bourke -- Montreal Alouettes (C)
Tackle-- Jovan Olafloye -- BC Lions (I)
Guard-- Brendan LaBatte-- Winnipeg Blue Bombers (C)
Guard-- Dimitri Tsoumpas -- Calgary Stampeders (C)
Centre-- Angus Reid -- BC Lions (C)


Defensive Tackle-- Aaron Hunt -- BC Lions (I)
Defensive Tackle-- Khalif Mitchell -- BC Lions  (I)
Defensive End-- Justin Hickman -- Hamilton Tiger Cats (I)
Defensive End-- Odell Willis -- Winnipeg Blue Bombers (I)
Linebacker-- Chip Cox-- Montreal Alouettes (I)
Linebacker-- Solomoan Elimimian -- BC Lions (I)
Linebacker-- Jerrell Freeman -- Saskatchewan Roughriders (I)
Corner Back-- Jovon Johnson -- Winnipeg Blue Bombers (I)
Corner Back-- Byron Parker -- Toronto Argonauts (I)
Defensive Back-- Korey Banks -- BC Lions (I)
Defensive Back-- Jonathon Hefney-- Winnipeg Blue Bombers (I)
Safety-- Ian Logan -- Winnipeg Blue Bombers (C)


Kicker-- Paul McCallum -- BC Lions (C)
Punter-- Burke Dales -- Calgary Stampeders (C)
Special Teams -- Chad Owens -- Toronto Argonauts (I)

2011 Division All Star listings

Globe and Mail-- Lulay one of nine Lions named to all-star squad
Vancouver Sun-- CFL All Stars represent youth, longevity
Vancouver Sun-- Lions CFL all stars separated by 17 years
Toronto Star-- Two Argos named CFL all-stars
Edmonton Journal-- Stamps, Messam named stars
TSN-- Lions centre Reid's pain pays off with First All Star nod
Straight.com-- BC Lions lead CFL with nine all-star selections

Monday, November 14, 2011

CFL Semi-Finals

The CFL's playoff rounds are underway and the first round offered up some high scoring action from the East and a family feud in the West that sees a familiar team back in the forefront of playoff football.

One game, one of those matches that CFL fans will talk about for more than a few years, the other perhaps a forgettable game for all those except for the hometown fans, who got the desired result against a rival, but with little in the way of a competitive battle along the way.

Hamilton at Montreal

The Alouettes, defending Grey Cup champions that they are, won't be heading to Vancouver to defend their title this year, coming out on the wrong end of the highest scoring playoff game in CFL history, as the Tiger Cats (despite their best efforts at times) persevered to claim a 52-44 Overtime victory and a berth in next week's Eastern Final in Winnipeg.

It's a rare occasion when your starting quarterback can amass more than 500 yards in offence and still end up losing the game, but such was the case on Sunday as Anthony Calvillo filled the Olympic Stadium's airspace with footballs all in a cause for naught as the Tiger Cats answered each and every drive with a successful one of their own.

Defense it was clear was not the strong point in Sunday's playoff opener, which saw both teams unleash their offences, a collection of players that hadn't particularly sparkled in the last few weeks of the regular season.

The sixty minutes of regular time and the overtime session featured incredible passes, remarkable catches and hard driving runs, lighting up the Olympic Stadium scoreboard to the point that perhaps the Fire Marshall may have been concerned about overloaded circuits.

While Montreal didn't go down without a fight, the end of the dynasty seemed to be nigh last week in Vancouver when the Alouettes looked terrible, they rebounded to a degree on Sunday but the problems that plagued them through the year seemed to be on display once again, mainly defensive this time around, though to be fair, the Als secondary in particular bore little resemblance to  the one that hoisted the Grey Cup last year.

The Cats, who have been a team that seemed on the cusp of success for the last few years, finally found a way to close out the deal, though not without a few tense moments for head coach Marcel Bellefeuille, who watched as they stumbled through the final seconds of regulation and then mishandled the clock to deny them a game winning field goal, leaving it to Kevin Glenn to construct the game winning drive in overtime complete with the two point conversion.

Montreal now moves on to rebuilding, the dynasty officially at an end, the areas of concern clear for all to review. Hamilton, flush with victory now moves on to the Eastern Final and a showdown against the Bombers in Winnipeg on Sunday.

Winnipeg has had no shortage of injuries to deal with in the last few weeks, stumbling to the finish of the regular season, for Hamilton who are coming off such an exciting victory, the prospect of another upset would seem more than within reach.

Globe and Mail-- Tiger-Cats upset Alouettes
National Post-- Ticats reach East final with wild overtime win over Alouettes
Toronto Star-- Ticats stun Alouettes in OT
Toronto Sun-- Ticats defeat Als in 'game for the ages'
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats win east semi 52 -33 over Als
Canada.com-- Death of Alouettes dynasty wasn't pretty

Calgary at Edmonton

The Calgary Stampeders may very well be Drew Tate's team now, but the Stamps quarterback will have to wait until the spring now to put more of a stamp on his squad.

The Stampeders couldn't match the intensity and production of the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday afternoon, losing the Western semi-final at a cold, windswept Commonwealth Stadium by a score of 33-19.

The undoing of the Stampeders quest to make it a road trip roll to the Grey Cup came in the second quarter, when the Eskimos took advantage of Calgary miscues and turnovers to put their stamp on the CFL semi final.

Edmonton made good on those opportunities, including a key fumble by Drew Tate which turned into an Eskimo defensive touchdown,  part of the second quarter flurry of scoring that set the Eskimos up for their victory by half time.

The Eskimos defence, which has been strong all season long, once again rose to the occasion, putting the finishing touches on the Stamps exit from their duties this CFL season.

Tate, who took a nasty tumble in the latter stages of the second quarter never came back into the game, replaced at the half by Henry Burris, who perhaps in his swan song as a Stampeder quarterback, could not deliver the victory that would have made for a rather interesting side story to the game.

Instead, he was sacked a number of times, chased around the field more often than not and skipped balls to receivers off the turf, not quite the Burris we remembered of sharp crisp passes and dangerous options for the running game.

Still, he didn't receive much help from his team mates, a theme on the year as a matter of fact and so, the Burris era most likely has come to an end in Calgary, while the Stamps will have to review where they go from here in a most disappointing season.

Disappointment isn't the word around Edmonton these days, in fact confidence and a renewed sense of place seems to be the way the winds are blowing from Northern Alberta.  The Eskimos who were supposed to be in a rebuilding phase this year, instead looked very much like those dominating Green and Gold teams of the past, stumbling a bit at mid season, they regrouped and never seemed to fall too far off the pace in the CFL West, but one win from hosting the CFL Western Final.

Ricky Ray while not as spectacular as his counterparts of the east on this day, still had a fairly successful day of it, finding his receivers at key times, keeping the Stampeder defence guessing as to what was ahead and once again providing that steady hand on the tiller that Eskimo fans have seen all season long.

On another day of positives, the only negative for Kavis Reed may be the status of Jerome Messam, who having had a remarkable season with Edmonton was injured in the latter stages of the game, limping off the field in visible pain, perhaps not to be seen again until the CFL Awards at the Grey Cup.

If that indeed is his scenario, the Eskimos will have to dig in a little deeper next week against the Lions if they hope to make that trip with him to the Grey Cup in two weeks.

Edmonton Sun-- Esks dump Stamps 33-19
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos defence shuts down Stamps
Calgary Sun-- Stamps' season over
Calgary Herald-- Stampeders find ways to beat themselves in CFL West ...
Globe and Mail-- Eskimos eliminate Stampeders
National Post-- Eskimos off to West final with win over Stampeders
Canada.com-- Second quarter stinker ends Stamps' season