Lions ready for redemption

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

It's playoff time and Canadian Football League players and coaches are quick to remind anyone within earshot that it's a whole new season.

For the B.C. Lions, this "new season" must have the same outcome as the start of the 2006 regular season.

That's when they achieved their only win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Lions have since lost three consecutive to the Riders, but have the opportunity to make those results irrelevant when their nemesis visits for Sunday afternoon's Scotiabank West Championship.

A win would not only send B.C. to the Nov. 19 Grey Cup in Winnipeg, but it would erase any doubts about the first-place team's superiority.

A loss and fans will be demanding changes.

Roughriders and their green-clad flatland fans will be coming into B.C. Place with confidence thicker than a sheaf of prairie-grown wheat. They have the streak and they also have last Sunday's inspirational victory in Calgary.

Quarterback Kerry Joseph's pass to Matt Dominguez with three seconds left in the first half rallied the team. Rookie Luca Congi converted both of Kenton Keith's rushing touchdowns, added a field goal and scored a punt single to shutout the Stampeders in the second half.

Dave Dickenson will be the Leos' starting pivot, but his endurance is a question mark. He has not played a full game since July. First an ankle sprain and later a concussion has limited his action. He missed three games after the Sept. 24 loss in Regina and played portions of the final two regular season tilts. The upshot is that understudies Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson have benefited from game action and are ready to step in should Dickenson falter on the field or limp off.

Lions are hosting their third straight West final. In 2004 they relied on a missed Paul McCallum field goal to pass the Riders in overtime, but lost the Grey Cup to Toronto. Last year, they went 1-5 down the stretch and let the Edmonton Eskimos ruin their Grey Cup party plans. This time McCallum is on their side and they don't have the pressure of a home Grey Cup date.

The time is now for redemption.


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