Paopao's going out in style

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

The Renegades have confirmed that executive VP of operations Forrest Gregg will become the club's GM next week when John Jenkins is announced as their second head coach.

But for one last day, Ottawa's CFL entry belongs to Joe Paopao and he's doing what he can to help it win.

"As a pro coach, there's no such thing as a nothing game," said Paopao, whose 6-11, out-of-the-playoffs club hosts the 11-6, first-place Toronto Argos this afternoon at Frank Clair Stadium.

"Coaches have worked hard all week, 12 hour days, to give our players a chance at success. Any time you put on a jersey at this level, you get out there and do your job to the best of your ability. Come (today) at 3 o'clock our expectation to win has not changed."

'SIMPLE PROJECT'

Paopao also knows there can be a tendency to go home early, mentally, for players who know they're about to cross the finish line a loser. And to that end, he came up with his own "simple project" in preparing for Game 18.

The motivational tools he used to "bring them together for one more game" are still on a table in the meeting room -- family photos brought in by the players.

"All week,'' Paopao said, ''we had our men for 30 seconds get up in front of their teammates and give a testimony of who they are, people who are influential in their lives, so when they look back after at the team picture, they'll have some type of memory of their teammates, their coaches. It was pretty powerful stuff. Some guys I haven't heard two words out of for four years stood up here and gave a dissertation of what's important to them. Some times it was very emotional.

"That's our team right there, and I'm proud to be associated with them, proud to be their head coach,'' Paopao said, motioning to the table of photos. "They're not just playing for their teammates and their coaches, they're playing for the people in their lives that are special."

The Renegades are making two roster moves this week, as receiver Pat Woodcock returns to the roster for David Azzi (ribs) and offensive lineman Jean-Francois Roy replaces import guard Morris Unutoa.

The Argos are off after this game until they host the East Division final, so they're planning accordingly.

Coach Michael "Pinball" Clemons has made eight changes and is giving three players their first CFL start. As well, MVP candidate Damon Allen is unlikely to play as Toronto is expected to go with Michael Bishop at quarterback.

"There's a little bit of me that would like to play (Allen) for at least a portion of the game,'' Clemons said, ''but wisdom keeps jumping on my back and weighing me down. If wisdom tackles me, you won't see him in there. If emotion overcomes me, you might."

RUSHING TO MARK

The Renegades will use Kerry Joseph, who needs 58 yards to reach a bonus-collecting 1,000 yards rushing and become just the third QB in CFL history to combine that mark with a 4,000-yard passing season. Brad Banks will also play.

Linebacker Kyries Hebert says he also has some individual tackle goals to reach.

"Everybody out here is a competitor and is paid to do a job, to play 18 games," said Hebert, second in the league in special teams tackles. "We all have pride and we're not going to let them push us around.

"I'm going to show up ready to fight all game long."

Whether Hebert shows up next season is a bigger issue, as he should receive off-season interest from the NFL.

"It's a possibility," he said of returning to the Renegades. "The owners seem like they're willing to do what it takes to get me back here. Before I talk with anyone else, I have lots of talking to do here first."

Pascal Cheron also vows to play hard today.

"I'm a warrior, that's what I do," said the veteran guard, one of 16 Renegades eligible for free agency next February.

"I really feel like I have a gift and I'm going to try to use to as best I can, to the end."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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