Quest for best in the West… and beyond
Last year’s magical season for the B.C. Lions was seemingly written by a Disney producer and delivered as a true rags to riches story.
If you recall they began 2011 playing in the temporary Empire Field because B.C. Place renovations were behind schedule.
The Leos stumbled out of the gates, going 0-5 to begin the season. In a very competitive West Division they were nearly a write off in many fans’ minds.
But something seemed to click somewhere in the middle of that horrible losing skid. The Lions turned on their burners and didn’t look back, finishing the season in first place, clinching the West Final.
Of course you know what happened next. Now the big question is, how do they repeat?
There are many, many factors that contribute to the success, or lack thereof for a football team. Here is a breakdown of the five most critical factors that will lead the orange crush to a franchise-first Grey Cup Championship repeat.
It’s an old cliche that defense wins championships, but that’s because it’s true. The CFL in general isn’t noted for it’s defensive battles by any means, however if you look closely at any great team their D will stand tall when it matters most.
The Lions’ D has stood tall time and time again this year.
The Leos have the league’s sack leader Keron Williams, and standout Adam Bighill, who finished second in the CFL in tackles and fourth in sacks. But it is far from a two-man show on B.C.’s stingy defense.
The collective unit finished first in total defense, allowing less than 20 points per game this season, and was second in team sacks with 45
The B.C. Lions lost just one game in the comfort of their own home this season. And their one indoor road game in Toronto, they won that too. The Leos clearly love the be in a warm, clean environment.
And that’s just what they’ve earned by locking up first place and hosting the West Division Final.
But they also get to play indoors in the 100th Grey Cup. It’s the second consecutive championship game in a controlled environment.
Things will be drastically different in 2013 when the Cup will be played on frozen Taylor Field in Regina.
Number 14 just knows how to win. The cool-headed pivot always seems to know just what to do with the pigskin. He’s one of the best in recent memory at not making big mistakes.
And in the playoffs, it’s players like him that give their teams the best chance to win. Turnovers are one of, if not THE, most important important stats in playoff football.
Look for Lulay to make smart throws and use his feet when he sees an opening.
This Canadian kid is undoubtedly the most popular player in B.C. The West Final will be a classic match-up of all-Canadian running back talent.
Harris vs. Jon Cornish will be much of the focus in the game, but after the Lions advance to the Grey Cup, look for number 33 to have an even bigger impact against the eventual East Division champs.
His ability to run the ball, catch passes out of the backfield, and pass block effectively make him a triple-threat player that any team would die to have.
The orange and white are the one team fortunate enough to have his talent, and they sure don’t take him for granted.
Mike Benevides has his team firing on all cylinders this season.
There was no let down after their amazing 2011 campaign, which is often an issue in pro sports. It is true what they say, it’s hard to get on top, but even harder to stay on top.
This Lions team is poised to repeat for a number of reasons, but mostly because of their attitude. These players have a swagger and confidence in each other that is unshakable. The team is a mix of veterans and youngsters, all with one focus and one purpose… to win.
These players feed off each others’ energy and fuel the faithful fans. Lions Pride is alive and well in B.C
Roar you Lions roar.