Argonauts in a funk

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

All is not well in Argoland.

That was the message issued yesterday by coach Pinball Clemons heading into tonight's game against the Ottawa Renegades at the Rogers Centre.

The Renegades have lost five in a row, their starting quarterback, Kerry Joseph, has been struggling, their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, as is the long-term future of general manager/coach Joe Paopao.

And yet Clemons said his team is in a funk, a direct result of a 24-13 loss against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Friday.

"The only way to cure a loss is a win," Clemons said. "We want to focus on our own house and get back in the winning way. Not (being) well in Argoland is (all about) losing. Guys feel ill when you lose a football game. It's an awful feeling. The ill will of losing is greater than the thrill of winning.

"When you don't win it bites at you. It eats at you until you get out on the field, so that's the good thing about a short week. You get a chance to get back on the field and correct that. That's what our desire is, what our focus and energy is."

The Argos (7-5) are first in the East, clinging to a two-point lead over the surging Montreal Alouettes (6-6). Three times this season the Argos have had games which would have increased their four-point cushion and three times they have lost. Clemons bristled when asked about the Argos' inability to pull ahead of the pack.

"I know that. I understand that," he said. "If you want me to admit our frailty, yes, absolutely."

Quarterback Damon Allen said the team was disappointed in itself for losing games it should have won.

"We can actually spread the distance and we haven't done a good job of doing that," he said. "So often like Pin says, 'We like to do it the hard way.' That makes the game important (tonight)."

Safety Orlondo Steinauer said the Argos are desperate to win, but not in the same way as Ottawa.

"Right now, our goals have obviously changed," he said. "We're trying to make the playoffs. That's the first thing we've got to do, then we'll worry about the rest."

When asked what has changed from earlier in the season when the Argos were talking about finishing first in the East and claiming a first-round playoff bye, Steinauer said CFL parity has become a factor.

"There (are) no gimme games anymore," he said. "Earlier in the year, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Calgary were struggling. Everybody was winning games they were supposed to win. Now it's the second half of the season. We control our own destiny. That's the thing you always want. When we were (clearly) in front we still knew we controlled our own destiny. At that point we were talking about getting the bye. Now we're fortunate to control our own destiny to get in the playoffs. We play everybody we need to play and if we beat them we'll be in. Same thing as probably Montreal is saying."


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