Ultimate Test for the Best in the West
Radio: Team Radio Rick Ball and Gulio Caravatta
TV: TSN and TSN HD
A trip to the center of the universe for the CFL’s ultimate prize is up for grabs this weekend and going into the Western Conference Final BC Lions Head Coach Mike Benevides needs to look past the recent history with Calgary and reflect on early season success against the Stampeders.
Washing away the last meeting, the Lions pasted the Horsemen by a combined score of 61 to 30 en route to 2 victories. While Calgary’s coach John Hufnagel may have won the last battle, Coach Bene has the artillery to win the war.
A trip to Toronto is on the line and BC could punch their ticket if the Leos’ brass takes note of these Top Shelf Keys to the Game.
With the disgusting taste of failure and defeat still lingering in their mouths, the BC Lions will try to overlook their week 17 loss to the Stampeders by coming out fast and furious, particularly in the first quarter, where the Leos have had some struggles this year. By standing up to the early onslaught and putting points on the board, BC will need to swing the momentum to their side because right now Calgary is playing with a lot of swagger.
Nik Lewis can be a media darling or a social media idiot but his actions on the football field speak louder than any of the dribble that comes out is mouth or onto his Twitter account. Nik Lewis the football player is a demon.
The portly slotback has a penchant for annihilating defenders after the catch as shown by his 1200 receiving yards. Lewis will pose a tremendous challenge to the Lions Defence as he may too quick to be covered by Linebacker and too large to go against some of the Lions Defensive Backs.
Calgary’s RB Jon Cornish has had a tremendous season rushing the ball, except when he played BC. Rich Stubler’s crew has been a force when stopping the run and with both Lion’s Defensive Tackles, Khalif Mitchell and Eric Taylor back in the starting lineup rushing yards will be hard to come by for the Canadian rushing leader.
To go along with the first key, if BC jumps out to an early lead, Calgary will be resorting to the pass attack, negating the effectiveness of their prized tail-back.
The BC Offense had some scoring struggles coming down the home-stretch because of injuries to key players. But with a week off and wounds healed, Jacques Chapdelaine’s Offense has its complete arsenal of weapons. Geroy Simon, Arland Bruce III, and Marco Iannuzzi will all dress for this weekend’s tilt.
Most importantly, reigning league Most Outstanding Player QB Travis Lulay has had an extended period of rest to re-hab his throwing shoulder.
The only question mark about this unit is the stability of the O-line. Guard Jon Hameister-Ries will probably miss the West Final with his back issues, but Patrick Kabongo will fill in.
Even with all the aforementioned offensive weapons returning, the single-most important key will be the play of Lions RB Andrew Harris. All season long it has been proven that if Harris gets the ball, either rushing or catching, the Lions will dominate.
Harris’s fingerprints are everywhere on the game-plan and will be a difficult matchup for every Calgary defender.
With over 1,800 combined yards on the season, Harris appears to be just warming up for another playoff run.
Calgary originally declared QB Drew Tate as the starter for the West Final but a broken wrist will sideline him. Kevin Glenn will replace him. Glenn threw for over 4,000 yards during the season.
The Lions recalled Rookie Guard Matt Norman back to the active roster. Norman was released from the team to attend teacher’s college. Norman will back-up the O-line.
SFU alum O-lineman Obby Khan was coaxed out of retirement this summer and will dress for Calgary.
Sack-masters: BC’s Keron Williams and Calgary’s Charleston Hughes finished 1-2 in QB takedowns. Both will be looking to make an impact on Sunday.
Sometimes it is not the X’s and O’s but the Jim’s and Joe’s that win football games. And this Conference Final may be just the case. On paper BC has superior talent at all the critical spots, including Running Back.
They just need to play inspired football. So maybe it’s time to bring back the early season motto of 501.
By 5:01 Sunday afternoon the Lions will either be heading to TO for the 100th Grey Cup or they’ll be cleaning out their lockers.
Cheers, The Bartender