Now or never for 'Gades

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

TORONTO -- Marc Pilon readily admits what should be obvious -- that he has never been on a CFL team as bad as the 2005 Renegades.

"This one (is the worst), yes," said the Ottawa defensive tackle -- who has been to four Grey Cup games and never missed the playoffs in his six-year pro career -- before adding, "but we have the best chemistry, too."

What the Renegades really need is better math.

They have to start getting the bigger numbers to line up on their side -- and once again figure out the correct answers -- or they can officially kiss their ever dwindling playoff hopes goodbye.

NEED AN 'A' EFFORT

To earn an improbable win tonight over the East Division-leading Argos at the Rogers Centre this evening (7:30, p.m., TSN) will require an 'A' for effort, something coach Joe Paopao has not been receiving enough of from his players during this current five-game losing streak.

They will also need to remember their history.

"We can't focus on beating Toronto as much as doing the right things every play," said receiver Yo Murphy, limping his way back on the roster tonight after missing one game with a leg injury -- a problem that has claimed Canadian pass catchers David Azzi, Pat Woodcock and Darryl Ray this week. "When we were 5-3, we were focused on doing all the little things right. That's why we were winning. We have to get back to that."

Pilon was also reaching into the past for positives.

"It's the same situation as the beginning of the season ... teams are going to start taking us lightly again," said the former Calgary Stampeder, Edmonton Eskimo and B.C. Lion, whose personal regular-season won-loss record was 69-38-1 before he signed in his home-town team last winter. "If we're up and they're down, that's huge. The team that's mentally prepared is going to win. We've just got to be up for the game more than they are. It's good to be the underdog sometimes."

Pilon knows what a dog looks like, all right. Growing up in Ottawa, he was a regular visitor to the end zone stands that no longer exist at Frank Clair Stadium. He estimates he saw "20-30" Rough Rider games during the 1980s and early '90s, and believes he never left the stadium as happy as could be.

"I don't think I ever saw (the home team) win a game. I just remember yelling, 'Hooooobarrrrt," he said, referring to the popular chant of the day for backup quarterback Ken Hobart. "The fans deserve a winner. I think the Gliebermans are committed to doing that."

FACING GRANDPA

Ironically, the guy Southsiders wanted Hobart to replace back then was Riders QB Damon Allen, now a 42-year-old grandfather still leading the Argos into battle.

How do the Renegades stop Allen, perhaps the best to ever play his position in the CFL, when they couldn't beat Stampeders third-stringer Danny Wimprine last week? Wimprine is an up and comer many think has a bright future in this league, but Allen is ... Allen.

"As a D-lineman, I've just got to concentrate on the guy I've got to beat," said Pilon. "Instead of looking at the whole game, we've got to take it one step at a time. As long as everybody looks after their position, everything else will take care of itself."

And if they don't start doing so soon, well, the Renegades' position will be a familiar one come playoff time.

Once again they'll be on the outside, looking in.


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