Kelly on familiar turf

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- Mike Kelly never thought this day would arrive.

The offensive co-ordinator with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for five seasons (1992-96), Kelly didn't believe he would coach with another CFL team.

"To be honest, I never thought I would stand on somebody else's sideline in that (Winnipeg) stadium," said Kelly this week.

But that will happen tonight.

In his first year as receivers coach with the Edmonton Eskimos, Kelly will be on the visitor's sideline at Canad Inns Stadium this evening as the Green and Gold battle the Bombers.

"It is the hometown of my daughters," said Kelly of Winnipeg.

"The city I lived my longest spell in my whole life. There is a lot of feeling of home there."

Admitting to have some different feelings entering this critical game for the Esks, Kelly is returning to a city where he was very successful and respected.

Under his guidance for those five years in Winnipeg, the Bombers offence set 29 club records - including 713 yards passing in one game (Matt Dunigan at quarterback).

The Bombers were the regular-season champs in the East Division three times in those five years.

And the club found its way to the Grey Cup twice.

But maybe Kelly's most important contribution in Manitoba was helping develop Milt Stegall.

In his final season and a half with the Bombers, Kelly introduced the CFL game to Stegall.

"When I first got up here he gave me a test," remembered Stegall.

"It was basically coverages that CFL teams play. I had no idea what was going on with the CFL. But he sat me down and he helped me a lot.

"He is part of the reason why I am at this point right now. He did a lot for me. Every time I see him, I thank him for it."

Now the CFL's all-time touchdown leader, Stegall is a certain Hall of Famer in this country. This season, he became the league's all-time leader in receiving yardage (15,015 to date).

"I see him adjusting his routes (in) very similar (fashion this year) to when I was there (in Winnipeg)," said Kelly on his former pupil.

It has been five years since the pair have met face-to-face.

But what is much more important for Kelly is a win against his old team.

After a 36-point defeat in Montreal on Sunday, the Green and Gold need to bounce back.

"I think it might be our most important week as a team -never mind just for the receiving core," said Kelly.

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WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Quarterback - Bombers

Defensive line - Bombers

Running back - Bombers

Linebackers - Bombers

Receivers - Bombers

Secondary - Bombers

Offensive line - Bombers

Return game - Eskimos

Coaching - Bombers

Kicking - Eskimos


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