Clubs' Grey-t expectations

IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Both contenders have their eyes on the prize, but each is looking at it differently.

The B.C. Lions, the defending Grey Cup champions, played a montage of photos following their final practice yesterday to kickstart emotions for today's West final.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have posted wallet-sized photos of the Grey Cup in their lockers with the name of each player the bottom.

So if either team is lacking focus, it won't be from a lack of trying.

"It helps to visualize," said Riders defensive lineman Scott Schultz. "All the greats do things to visualize and see themselves in those situations and mentally picture things.

"We get it in this locker-room. We get what it means to play and compete. That being said, there are guys who get it at different levels. The visual cues help guys focus at different levels."

The Lions montage played on the Jumbotron with the entire team at midfield watching. It really was inspiring as highlights of the 2007 season were displayed to The Killers hit 'These Things That I've Done' playing over the loudspeakers.

Some of those snapshots were from Roughriders matchups, including receiver Geroy Simon's favourite, during a game in which he caught a last-second game-winning touchdown.

"The one where Rob Murphy had the guy on the ground, that was a great picture," Simon said of the brawl the left tackle had with John Chick.

"It kind of brings back a bunch of emotions. But it's not just one picture, it's really everything. It's been a long, tough year. We feel good about what we've done, but it's certainly not over."

This has become a huge CFL rivalry and not just because of regular-season battles.

Saskatchewan is known for its hard-luck history, but the Riders have made the West final four times in the past five years. Including this one, they faced the Lions three times, but have yet to make the championship game.

Sitting in the backs of the Riders' minds is a 45-18 loss at B.C. Place last year.

"Last year, we came here and were sent home early. We didn't like that feeling," said rush end Fred Perry, laughing at the suggestion the Lions wanted a rematch.

"They really didn't want that. They have it but they didn't want it. But we want their fans to be cheering for them so we can take them out as well."

When the Lions won the 2006 Grey Cup, it was a culmination of five years hard work under president Bob Ackles and head coach Wally Buono.

Complacency was an issue Buono addressed at the start of this year and was reiterated with yesterday's video.

"It makes us think back to when training camp started, where we are now and all the things that had to happen along the way," said Lions lineman Brent Johnson. "It took a lot of commitment. We're bonded and our rally cry has been loud all year."

Being 61/2-point underdogs, the Riders feel the pressure is off them and they were a loose and jovial group when they arrived at the stadium yesterday for final preparations.

Although there will be decent pockets of Green and White supporters among the expected 52,000-plus spectators, the crowd will be loud for the home side, which is fine with Riders coach Kent Austin.

"What's there to be tight about?" said the first-year head coach. "We're playing a football game.

"It's all about how you view the opportunity. These are the moments you want to arrive at. You want to be able to play for the opportunity to make you a champion."


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