Argos make Bombers nervous

Argonauts back Andre Durie runs toward Eskimos cornerback Chris Thompson at the Rogers Centre in...

Argonauts back Andre Durie runs toward Eskimos cornerback Chris Thompson at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 21, 2011. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

WINNIPEG - With the football calendar poised to usher in November, Glenn January had a few words of wisdom for his Blue Bombers teammates, advice that is only gleaned from experience and pain.

It was during January’s rookie season as an Argo when the table appeared set for a Toronto coronation.

At home for the Eastern final, the Grey Cup to be played in Toronto, all that stood between the Argos and a date with destiny was Winnipeg and complacency.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a championship, a rude and sobering lesson January will likely never forget.

“Having that off week and the free money was great, but we came out flat and it was a huge disappointment,’’ January recounted on the eve of Friday’s kickoff against the Argos.

“To this day when I talk with players on that team, we all admit that we really slipped up. We beat Winnipeg during the season, but when it mattered most we didn’t. I’m teaching these guys (January’s Winnipeg teammates) what not to do in that situation.

“The focus is on this game.”

Despite their four-win season heading into Friday, the Argos are being viewed in the ‘Peg as a dangerous opponent, a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain if an upset is somehow fashioned.

For January, all he needs to do is recall the way his rookie year in 2007 ended to understand how nothing must be taken for granted.

For the Bombers, the team has invoked a ban on the words ‘bye’ and ‘first place’ to avoid any notion of looking past the present.

Head coach Paul LaPolice initiated the ban, which forces violators to fork over $5.

By his estimate, LaPolice figures about $20 has been collected.

With so much at stake and the Bombers playing their final regular-season game at Canad Inn Stadium, the mood hasn’t changed much around the team.

“We’re trying to keep it loose, but we all understand this is a very important game,’’ added January. “The hay’s not in the barn yet.

“You can go two ways. You can tighten up and play tight or you can try to keep it loose and go out and do what you’ve been doing all year and that is have success against division opponents.”

When they staged their remarkable fourth-quarter comeback last week against visiting Montreal, the Blue Bombers basically put their fate in their own hands.

Win Friday night and take care of business next week in Calgary and Winnipeg will play host to the East final with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line.

One of the members of the 2007 Bombers team that upset the Argos in Toronto was Dominic Picard, who returns to the site where he began his CFL career.

“Everything started for me here,’’ said Toronto’s starting centre as he soaked in the sunshine. “It’s both nice and a blessing to be able to play in this stadium for the last time.

“I have great memories here. The wind, the cold, beating Montreal here in 2007 (in the East semi).

“But the focus is on Friday night and beating a first-place team.”

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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