A Wake-up call

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The Montreal Alouettes woke up the B.C. Lions - and the rest of the league is paying the price.

The Lions are the hottest team in the CFL entering tonight's game at B.C. Place against the Edmonton Eskimos.

With five straight wins, the Leos are in a three-way first-place tie in the West Division - two points ahead of the Eskimos - because their quarterback situation is solved and their defence is the best in the country.

And it all started to come together after the Lions failed to score on three straight attempts from Montreal's one-yard line to end a game on Aug. 29.

That loss was the turning point for Wally Buono's crew.

"Discipline and urgency wasn't always a critical issue (until then)," said Buono, the Lions' head coach.

Since then, B.C. has outscored its opposition to the tune of 154-86. That's an average per-game score of 31-17.

It all means the defence is playing lights-out on many nights.

"It's the best front four you come across," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia on tonight's opponent.

Defensive end Cameron Wake leads the CFL with 19 sacks with bookend Brent Johnson second with 10.

That B.C. combo has more quarterback sacks than the team total for Edmonton (26), Toronto (25), Saskatchewan (23), Calgary (23) and Hamilton (19).

"When it comes to quickness, No. 91 (Wake) is an a league of his own," continued Maciocia.

Calvin Armstrong - who is the Esks' bargain-basement tackle making about $55,000 a year - is having a rock-solid rookie season but now faces Wake for the first time in his career tonight.

"He is blockable," said Armstrong on Wake. "Speed kills at any level of football.

"But a lot of it (tonight) comes down to the game plan. If we run the ball, throw in some screens to slow him down, it will help."

While Edmonton's offence will have its hands full, the Green and Gold's defence will try to derail a confident Buck Pierce, who has started at quarterback for all five B.C. wins in this stretch.

After watching Jarious Jackson start for seven games in the opening half of the year, Pierce has thrown nine touchdowns and just two interceptions during this undefeated streak.

To B.C. centre Angus Reid, Pierce's hot play is the result of calming down.

"I think (Pierce and Jackson) at the beginning of the year felt the gun at their head from Wally and both tried to show they were the best in the world, every single play," said Reid, referring to Pierce seeing some action in relief to start the year. "Now Buck knows this is his team,"

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WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Quarterback - Eskimos

Defensive line - Lions

Running back - Lions

Linebackers - Lions

Receivers - Lions

Secondary - Lions

Offensive line - Lions

Return game - Eskimos

Coaching - Lions

Kicking - Lions


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