Labour Day Classic version 2012
This year’s trip to Montreal will be no different then. The Alouettes, once again, sit atop the East division with a 5-3 record and are riding a 3 game winning streak.
Last week both squads finished with victories where last second field goals were de riguer.
This week both clubs hope that their supercharged Offensive machines can fire on all cylinders. But if the Lions look to extend their winning streak to 5 games, they must again rely on the strength of their Defence.
Let’s examine this tete-a-tete with the Top Shelf Keys to the Game
The Lions Offence has the potential to be most destructive force in the league, unfortunately they haven’t found the right rhythm to be in sync. One bright spot has been the play of Slot Back Shawn Gore.
Gore has contributed to the Offense with timely catches and elusive runs and this week he lines up on the same side of the field as Wopamo Saisai, the least experienced DB in the Alouettes secondary.
Look for either Gore or Akeem Foster to have an above average outing.
Jamel Richardson returns to the Alouettes line-up on Friday which should make for a tough match-up for HB Korey Banks. Richardson has been Montreal’s dominant receiver for the past few seasons but in his absence Al’s SB S.J. Green was the go-to receiver.
Last week Green went off for 10 catches, 168 yards and a TD. With his last performance Green was nominated as the CFL’ Offensive Player of the Week.
As great as the Lions Secondary has been playing, this will be their toughest test.
One matchup to keep an eye on this game is between the two premiere Running Backs. BC’s Andrew Harris and Montreal’s Brandon Whittaker have eerily similar stats. Harris ranks 5th in league rushing with 487 yards and 3 TD’s, Whittaker is 6th best with 468 yards and 2 TD’s.
Proving they are equally effective through the air, Whittaker and Harris are ranked 18th and 19th in league receiving respectively. Whittaker has 37 catches for 343 yards and 3 TD’s with a long catch of 28 yards.
Harris’s numbers are 36 catches for 333 yards with 3 TD’s and a long gain of 29 yards. Most likely, the winning team will have the back with the bigger day.
Turning off the A-C
Friday’s game sees the return of BC’s Defensive Tackle Khalif Mitchell. Mitchell, who was suspended for two games, will definitely unleash some pent up rage, hopefully within the confines of CFL rules.
Mitchell’s return is critical for the Lions as they need to provide as much pressure on Montreal’s ageless QB Anthony Calvillo.
Calvillo, the league’s leader in passing yards, must be hurried or else the Lions will have to endure a long evening getting surgically taken apart by the pin-point pivot.
The Lions Punt Return team will face some stiff competition this week-end as Montreal boasts 3 of the top 4 special team’s tacklers. Lately this team has failed to gain much traction, aside from one Tim Brown return last week.
For his part, Lions Coach Mike Benevides, has given some of the return duties to speedster Marco Iannuzzi in an attempt to change up the look.
Travis Lulay has thrown a TD pass in 19 straight games.
Anthony Calvillo has thrown for over 300 yards in 7 consecutive games.
This will be the last game for Lions sensational rookie OL Matt Norman who will return to the University of Western Ontario for his teaching degree.
WR Kierrie Johnson is still out with an injury, Ernest Jackson will slot in for the 3rd game in a row.
C Angus Reid suffered a high ankle sprain but will draw into the starting line-up again.
Call it a Grey Cup preview, or just another installment of a Labour Day classic. Whatever the case may be, when these two squads face each other, we are often witnessing a magnificent competition.
Being the first installment of a home-and-home, these two teams will spare no punch to gain the upper hand heading into the re-match.
Call it a rendezvous, next week.
Cheers, The Bartender