Secrecy starts early

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The playoff skulduggery and paranoia has already started, a month before the CFL post-season kicks off.

B.C. head coach Wally Buono will reportedly keep today's Lions' walk-through closed from the media's prying eyes.

The Stampeders, meanwhile, who typically stage a walk-through at the home team's stadium the day before a game, have answered by holding media availability today at their Vancouver hotel.

With the first-place Lions enjoying a four-point advantage over Calgary in the West Division standings, who said tomorrow night's clash at B.C. Place is just another two-point game?

At issue for the Lions is choosing this week's starting quarterback, with No. 1 Dave Dickenson still suffering the effects of a concussion.

That could leave the Lions offence in the capable hands of backup Buck Pierce, who also damaged his throwing arm last week in Hamilton, or third-stringer Jarious Jackson.

"B.C. has three starting quarterbacks and any team that faces them has to look at them that way," said Stampeders linebacker John Grace. "They've all started in this league and had success. Pick your poison. No matter who's in there, they're going to stretch the field, throw the ball deep and scramble to make first downs.

"When you play B.C., you don't see the other guys as backups. They're three starters."

Although Dickenson orchestrated the Lions' 40-23 win over the Stampeders earlier this season, Grace's theory seems to hold water. Last week in Hamilton, with Dickenson on the sidelines, Pierce tossed two TDs before being sidelined in favour of Jackson, who also played well sealing the win.

"They pretty much play everything the same way except that Buck has a little more mobility than Dickenson," said Stamps DB Jermaine Chatman.

"We'll prepare for both and be ready for whoever we get.

"Last week, when Dickenson wasn't playing, it seemed like Buck gets out of the pocket a little bit more, a bigger guy and I don't see him sliding very much."

Dickenson completed 23 of 32 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting July 21 at McMahon Stadium. He has also guided the Lions to four consecutive wins over Calgary, a trend not lost on Stamps safety Trey Young.

"Dave always finds a way to get the job done and did in the last three or four games we played them," Young said.

"Last time we played them he only threw for two hundred yards but they still won. He comes through. But Buck Pierce is a good quarterback, too, and he could start on any team in the CFL. It's a dual threat.

"Dave can run and make you miss but Pierce is a bigger guy, so when he runs and gets outside the pocket you have to anticipate that he won't slide like Dave does. He also has a good arm like he showed in the Saskatchewan game (two weeks ago), brought them down the field and gave them a chance to win."

Linebacker Brian Clark agrees with Grace's assessment.

The Lions pose a challenge no matter who holds the ball, although the Stamps' deceptive defensive schemes might create havoc for a less experienced starter.

"I don't see a lot of difference because they don't put a whole lot of emphasis on the quarterback in that system," Clark said.

"They have guys who aren't panicking when they go in there, run the offence and they're not simplifying things for them. It's a matter for us of who we can mess with a little more (with different looks). Dave's a guy who tends to have good games against us. (Pierce) is a little bigger, more mobile and will take off running with it. He'll try to hit you instead of sliding out of bounds ... they don't change offences or philosophies, they just let the other guys go in and run their plays and make it happen."

Although it looks like Pierce will be handed the ball tomorrow night, the Stampeders are preparing for any scenario.

Even if the Lions keep their decision under wraps until game time.


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