Argos aren't ready to end 'storybook' season

Argonauts quarterback Cleo Lemon walks on the field during practice at Olympic Stadium in Montreal...

Argonauts quarterback Cleo Lemon walks on the field during practice at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on November 20, 2010. (SHAUN BEST/Reuters)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:33 PM ET

MONTREAL — No matter what happens on Sunday afternoon, the Argonauts will realize at some point that their 2010 season has been a success.

It’s just an area that no one who is involved with the team wants to go to quite yet. The Argos weren’t supposed to do much in a rebuilding year with a new head coach and a new quarterback, yet they will be on the temporary field at the cavernous Olympic Stadium in the East Division final against the Montreal Alouettes, one win away from playing for the Grey Cup.

“After (the season) is done, maybe I will look back on it, but right now, I am looking forward to going to Edmonton (for the Grey Cup) and going out tomorrow afternoon and playing at a very high level against the defending Grey Cup champs and see where we are at,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said. “We’ll deal with whatever happens after it happens.”

There has been a notion that the Argos have done too much too fast, but it’s not one the players buy into, nor should they.

“In professional sports, the opportunities are few and far between, and the rug can be pulled out from under you at any second,” special teams captain Bryan Crawford said. “Too fast? It’s usually not fast enough, no matter what you do. There is no question this season has been a big step for us.”

More than a few things will have to happen at Olympic Stadium — 56,000 of 58,000 tickets had been sold as of Saturday afternoon — for the Argos to continue what Crawford rightly called a “storybook” season.

The defence will have to keep the Alouettes out of the end zone. Special teams will have to ensure that Chad Owens gets the proper blocking to make an impact, and thereby provide good field position.

But the biggest thrust the Argos need will have to come from quarterback Cleo Lemon and the offence. Lemon talks a good game, saying on Saturday afternoon after two days of eschewing the media that “we feel like we can win no matter the situation. We feel like our chances are just as good as anybody to win the Grey Cup.”

The Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders probably would disagree.

Lemon, though, has to be sound, and never mind that he was anything but in the victory in the semi-final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last weekend. The Ticats committed five turnovers, more or less handing the game to an Argos offence that still could produce only 16 points.

The Alouettes gave up the football 34 times during the regular season, the fewest turnovers in the Canadian Football League.

Montreal also allowed 35 completed passes of 30 or more yards, and it’s something Lemon will have to get after.

“I think we are (capable),” Barker said. “Cory Boyd is a big-play running back. Chad Owens is a big-play receiver. I feel we have big-play players.

“Can we put them in position to do that? That’s where coaching comes in and we have to find ways to put them in positions to make big plays.”

If they can, the potential is there for a big upset. Of the four times the Argos scored 30 or more points during the regular season, three were in games versus the Alouettes.

And they can put off discussion of what a surprising season it was for another week.

“Going into this season, there wasn't anything expected of this team,” Crawford said. “We got to decide what we wanted to be, and that’s the great thing about having a young team and new guys and strong leadership.

“But guys have been in big games throughout their careers in all levels, and this is the next one.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

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