Three-horse race in East

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

The Montreal Alouettes had a six-game losing streak last season ... and finished first in the CFL's East Division.

Can't wait to see how they're going to top that trick this year.

Then again, it looks like it could be another wacky year in the East, because not one of the four teams appears to have firmly established itself as the front-runner.

The Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts both had 10-8 records last season, while the much-improved Winnipeg Blue Bombers soared to a 9-9 mark. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats started rebuilding midway late in the year en route to a 4-14 campaign.

It looks like it's going to be a three-horse race again in 2007, but there are many factors that could knock the Als, Argos and Bombers out of the turtle derby. And the biggest question mark surrounding those clubs is the most important position -- quarterback.

Montreal's Anthony Calvillo will turn 35 this year, and some are questioning his stamina.

QBS GETTING OLDER

Toronto's Damon Allen will turn an astounding 44 this season, and the Argos are already preparing for life after Allen.

The doubts in Winnipeg are more for when Kevin Glenn gets hurt than when he's throwing the ball. His backups couldn't win last year, and they didn't land anyone new in the off-season who had CFL experience.

The Tiger-Cats, meanwhile, don't look like they've added enough talent in the off-season to push for a playoff spot. Then again, if six-game losing streaks are the key to winning the division ...

Training camps are only a week away, so here's a closer look at the East Division:

HAMILTON

TIGER-CATS

- In the year 2006: The Tabbies were without claws once again, finishing with a 4-14 record and out of the playoffs. Head coach Greg Marshall was fired four games into the season, and poor Ron Lancaster had to guide the rudderless ship into port.

- Head coach: Charlie Taaffe (first season).

- Projected starting quarterback: Jason Maas.

- Three significant returnees: RB Corey Holmes, DB Tay Cody, RB Jesse Lumsden.

- Three significant acquisitions: DT Nautyn McKay-Loescher, SB Kwame Cavil, OL Jerome Davis.

- Three significant departures: WR D.J. Flick, DB Jason Goss, DE Tim Cheatwood.

- Three significant questions: Will the Jason Maas of old finally show up in Steeltown, or is he long gone? Has GM Marcel Desjardins assembled enough experienced talent to improve the club? Is the defence worse than it was last year?

MONTREAL

ALOUETTES

- In the year 2006: The Alouettes weren't as dominant as they usually are, and head coach Don Matthews retired late in the season, but their 10-8 record was good enough for first in the East. They advanced to the Grey Cup game, which they lost to the B.C. Lions.

- Head coach: Jim Popp (first season).

- Projected starting quarterback: Anthony Calvillo.

- Three significant returnees: SB Ben Cahoon, RB Robert Edwards, LB Tim Strickland.

- Three significant acquisitions: LB John Grace, DE Tim Cheatwood, SB Keith Stokes.

- Three significant departures: DT Ed Philion, DT Adriano Belli, WR Thyron Anderson.

- Three significant questions: Is Calvillo on the decline? Who will replace Philion and Belli on the interior of the defensive line? Who will start at the halfback spots in the secondary?

TORONTO

ARGONAUTS

- In the year 2006: The Boatmen got hammered hard by injuries, but they bounced back to compile a 10-8 record and finish second in the East. They fell to the Alouettes, however, in the East final.

- Head coach: Pinball Clemons (seventh season).

- Projected starting quarterback: Damon Allen -- for now.

- Three significant returnees: WR Arland Bruce III, LB Kevin Eiben, CB Byron Parker.

- Three significant acquisitions: DT Adriano Belli, QB Mike McMahon, offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto.

- Three significant departures: RB Ricky Williams, DE Eric England, LB Antonious Bonner.

- Three significant questions: Will the 43-year-old Allen hold on to his job, or will Michael Bishop, former Heisman winner Eric Crouch or ex-NFLer McMahon take over? Can tailback John Avery last a full season in the wake of Williams' departure? Who will be their starting offensive tackles?

WINNIPEG

BLUE BOMBERS

- In the year 2006: The Blue and Gold had a roller-coaster campaign that concluded aptly with a 9-9 mark. They led the Argos late in the East semifinal but blew a chance to win when Kevin Glenn threw an interception in the final minute.

- Head coach: Doug Berry (second season).

- Projected starting quarterback: Kevin Glenn.

- Three significant returnees: SB Milt Stegall, RB Charles Roberts, LB Barrin Simpson.

- Three significant acquisitions: DB Davin Bush, OL Alexandre Gauthier, WR O'Neil Wilson.

- Three significant departures: DB Stanford Samuels, LB Ike Charlton, DT Ron Warner.

- Three significant questions: Can they develop a decent backup quarterback? Who will replace Charlton at the strong-side linebacker position? How much leg does Troy Westwood have left?


Videos

Photos