Argos to Als: Beat 'Peg

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:18 PM ET

It might not be the first location they would choose, but the Argos fully intend to celebrate an East Division championship this weekend in Regina.

The big question: Whether (and if) the prairie party takes place tomorrow night or Saturday afternoon.

Even with nothing to play for but pride and momentum, the Montreal Alouettes can conceivably start the Boatmen bash early with a win tomorrow in Winnipeg.

But a Bombers win would put them a point ahead of the Argos, making the game the next day against the Roughriders a must-win for Toronto.

Either way, the Argos are planning to make their trip to Regina all business and fly home with a first-round bye and home field for the East final.

"If it happens (tomorrow), sure I'd go and have an extra piece of cheesecake from room service," Argos coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons said yesterday when asked how he might celebrate. "Then on Saturday morning I'd go back and pretend like nothing happened."

The varying levels of motivation in those two key contests provide the lone drama for the season's final week.

Saskatchewan and Montreal can neither help nor hurt their cause, so both could rest key veterans at the expense of the two squads battling for first in the East.

In his weekly column for a Winnipeg newspaper, Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown wrote an open letter to Saskatchewan coach Kent Austin. In it, Brown implored Austin to stick it to the team that released him last season as offensive co-ordinator.

"Do us a favour and watch our game against Montreal," Brown wrote, presumably tongue in cheek.

"If we lose, don't worry about helping out your prairie brethren to the east and go about your business. But if we win, help us make Toronto go through Winnipeg in the playoffs."

The Argos aren't so desperate because they ultimately can control their own fate with a win. But several players said yesterday that they don't expect the Als to roll over.

"I expect them to go out and play hard," defensive back Kenny Wheaton said. "You don't want to go out and lay down against a team you might have to play the next week."

The Bombers are listed as prohibitive 81/2-point favourites despite their injury woes and their miserable performance in a 16-8 loss in Toronto this past weekend.

The difficulty is getting a handle on how Als coach Jim Popp will approach the game.

"They may want to prove they can win in Winnipeg," Clemons said. "They may want to go in there and not show them anything and play for next week. Knowing (Popp), he's going to want to win the game, but he understands which is the most important of the two."


Videos

Photos