Advantage for Boatmen

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

While one game does not make a season, one game can impact the rest of this Argos season.

If the Argos beat the Montreal Alouettes tonight at the Rogers Centre, they will clinch the three-game series having already beaten their East Division rival 36-24 at Molson Stadium on July 28. The two teams play again on Oct. 22 in Montreal.

The Argos, who lead the Als by two points, haven't clinched the season series against Montreal since 1997, the year Toronto finished first in the East for the second consecutive year and went on to win its second consecutive Grey Cup.

Argos head coach Pinball Clemons, who played on that '97 team, has been preaching to his players to take advantage of beating the Als and clinch the series.

"It's important for us to maintain that first-place position and go out and have a convincing win and show everybody we ain't just paper champions," receiver Robert Baker said.

Safety Orlondo Steinauer acknowledged beating the Als to clinch the season series is paramount.

"I think it's important for us to beat them because it's a four-point (swing) for us, plus they are in our division," he said. It's an important game in the East and to get the season series is huge," he said.

Als head coach Don Matthews, who coached the Argos in '97, said he has not talked to his team about the season series, although the players may have discussed it among themselves. As far as Matthews is concerned, this is merely the seventh game of the season.

"I look at the big picture," he said. "I don't look at the short term. I think looking down the road is a dangerous vision."

Als starting quarterback Anthony Calvillo acknowledged that he thought about the implications of the season series.

"If we do fall behind and lose to them and they have the season series there's always the possibility that could come back and hurt you at the end of the year," he said. "There's still a lot of games to be played whether we lose or win this game. "You never know what's going to happen in the second half of the season, but in the back of my mind I do think (about the season series) at times, but it's still a long season.

TOUGH TASK

"The most important thing is we've got to beat them in their backyard and it's going to be a tough task. It's always tough when you've got to go on the road. There's not too many teams that have winning records on the road at the end of the year and that's one of our goals.

"Right now we haven't even won a game on the road and we're trying to improve on that."

Secondary to the season series is the sidebar considering who will start for the Argos at quarterback. Michael Bishop has taken most of the starting reps because Damon Allen has been nursing a bruised ankle. He'll dress, but Clemons said whether or not Allen starts will be a game-time decision.

"Michael in all likelihood will get the start, but that's not guaranteed," Clemons said.


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