Lions top of the line

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

The good news is B.C. Lions sackmaster Cam Wake can only be one place at a time.

Perhaps that gives Calgary Stampeders left-tackle Ben Archibald, whose off-field duties include keeping tabs on one-year-old triplets Tessa, Ashlyn and Kylee, the edge when his club hosts the Leos in Saturday's West Division final?

"I wish," Armstrong said with a chuckle. "I have my hands full at home, and I have my hands full on the field, too."

As Armstrong and his Stampeders teammates are already aware, squaring off against the Lions' star-studded defence is a bit like babysitting the entire cast of The Little Rascals.

The CFL announced its All-Canadian defensive lineup yesterday, with three members of the Lions' fearsome front four -- Wake, Brent Johnson and Aaron Hunt -- making the grade. Leos cornerback Dante Marsh and safety Barron Miles also earned all-star nods, while cornerback Brandon Browner was the only Stampeder on the list.

After watching the Lions bounce the defending champion Saskatchewan Roughriders from the playoff picture with a 33-12 victory last Saturday at Taylor Field, Stamps head coach John Hufnagel suggested a marketing slogan for the divisional final, noting "It's the Calgary Stampeders playing the CFL all-stars."

The numbers will likely be close to even after the offensive All-Canadians are revealed today, but yesterday's announcement seems to back Hufnagel's claim.

The Lions' star attraction is Wake, who led the league with 23 sacks, including four in three outings against the Stamps. Hunt finished the regular season with 11 sacks, while Johnson racked up 10.

By contrast, the entire Stamps defence sacked opposing quarterbacks 33 times.

With Wake, the West Division nominee for the CFL's most outstanding defender award, it's no longer a matter of whether he'll bolt for the NFL after this season, rather which four-down football squad he'll sign with.

"He isn't the strongest guy, he isn't the quickest guy, but he's a guy that's going to get you on effort," said Stampeders right tackle Jeff Pilon.

"You can have him blocked, on the ground, done, and he'll get up and make the play.

"He's one of those guys that doesn't stop, and their whole defence is like that. They don't stop. They keep going and keep going and keep going, so we've got to keep going, too."

Wake, Hunt and fellow defensive lineman Tyrone Williams were all West Division all-stars last season and Johnson was the CFL's top defender in 2006, so the success of B.C.'s front four is no big surprise. The Stamps offensive line, on the other hand, has exceeded expectations.

With three starters who'd never taken a CFL snap -- including first-round draft picks Dimitri Tsoumpas and Jesse Newman -- there were questions about whether the revamped unit could keep Henry Burris' jersey clean.

So far, so good. The Stamps average 6.4 rushing yards per attempt, the CFL's second-best mark in a statistical category often used to shed light on the effectiveness of the blockers, and have surrendered just 30 sacks, the third-lowest total in the league. Saturday's showdown with the Lions will be their biggest test yet.

"We have a great challenge ahead of us, but we've had challenges all year long, and we've been able to step up and perform," said Archibald, a Brigham Young grad in his first CFL campaign after four seasons in the NFL.

"I think we've answered all the questions, and we've done it little by little throughout the course of the season, and different players have improved and stepped up."


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