Als hold heads high

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

They've been there before and they've vowed to get there again.

That doesn't mean much this morning, but after dropping the 94th Grey Cup to the B.C. Lions on Sunday by a 25-14 margin, the Montreal Alouettes certainly don't plan to go quietly into the night.

Sure, the naysayers will say that all of the Alouettes regular-season success doesn't mean much.

And it's true that the franchise has won only one Grey Cup of late, despite appearing in five finals over the past seven years.

But ...

"The thing is, we have been there five times in seven years and we've won one Cup," said Alouettes head coach and general manager Jim Popp. "B.C. won in 2000 so they've won two now, Edmonton has won two in seven years, there's a couple teams that have won one and some have won zero.

"When you get there that many times, you would expect to win more than one and the odds are with you to win more than one but most teams don't in that amount of time."

Popp believes things are going to change in the Alouettes favour sooner rather than later.

"We've done more things in this league than most teams in the history of this league have ever done," said Popp. "In modern time, it's very difficult to get it done. We've done a lot of things that we're very proud of and we can continue building on.

"If we keep giving ourselves enough chances to get here maybe it will swing totally the opposite way and people will quit talking about it. But we have to play better than what we played to accomplish that."

At least the Alouettes aren't being foiled by the same problems over and over again.

"Every single Grey Cup is different," said Alouettes slotback Ben Cahoon, who caught 11 passes for 137 yards. "Last year it was a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. This year it was a poor half of football all around. It's definitely not just one thing that is repeating itself.

"It starts in the off-season. We need to get bigger, stronger, faster in the off-season to be able to go out and push people around."

Alouettes defensive lineman Adriano Belli, who was acquired late in the season from the woeful Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was disappointed he was unable to take advantage of his opportunity to hoist the Cup.

"We're going to go back to the drawing board for next year," said Belli. "We got a chance to play in the Grey Cup this year and that's more than other teams got.

"You only get so many kicks at the can, right? It's been special for this organization to be in the Cup so many times. Life doesn't guarantee you're going to be back so it's rough."

Alouettes centre Bryan Chiu was crushed but shared a rare sense of perspective in the losing locker-room.

"It's going to be a long off-season, but this is our job," said Chiu. "In the long run, it's a football game. It's not life or death. Yes, it's our job. The key is that we gave it 100%.

"It's not like we didn't try. The effort was there and we fell short. I just hope our fans understand that. Life goes on."


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