Opportunity to grow

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

The young offensive lineman has gone from being a backup on a perennial playoff contender to a starter for the woeful Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

But centre Aaron Fiacconi is not complaining.

"It's actually been quite interesting," he said yesterday. "It's been real good. I've gotten a lot of valuable experience here. I'm playing with some good football players. This record (4-9) may not indicate how good a football team we really are. We've made a lot of strides. And I've made a lot of strides. I won't say I haven't made my share of mistakes this year but it's just part of the experience of growing at the professional level.

"Each game, I'm getting more comfortable and seeing a lot of different defensive linemen around the league. It's been fun. It's definitely been a high point in my career."

The 6-foot-3, 304-pound Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native was acquired from Montreal in the deal that sent popular offensive tackle Dave Mudge to the Alouettes earlier this season. That allowed Bomber head coach Jim Daley to move Matt Sheridan from centre to his natural left guard spot. That, combined with the addition of former Toronto Argonauts import tackle John Feugill, improved the O-line vastly.

"They gave me an opportunity to come in and start here and I'm definitely going to do what I can to stay here and be a part of this football team, get some victories and possibly a Grey Cup here," said Fiacconi, 25.

This weekend he will be returning to his old Montreal haunting grounds for the first time since the trade.

"It's going to be my first game back where I'm not in an Alouette uniform so, it's going to have some sentimental value," Fiacconi said. "It's definitely going to be emotional to see my old teammates and play against them again.

"I made some good friendships there over the last few seasons and they're good guys so, I'll have to make sure they take me out for dinner and we get off on the right foot."

Fiacconi has been on the horn lately talking to all of his old O-line mates. But those Als were not talking any trash.

"I don't think they can afford to take too many shots after the last game," said Fiacconi, referring to the Bombers' 51-46 victory over the Als when they were in Winnipeg earlier this season. "They know we're coming in to play hard and definitely going for a victory, and they're in the midst of a playoff hunt so they're definitely going to give us their A game. It's going to be a challenge for us to go in there and win."

Fiacconi's wife, mother-in-law and stepdaughter will make the trip from Sault Ste. Marie to Montreal to watch him play.

Fiacconi, however, seems to have found a football home in Winnipeg.

"As long as they'll have me, I'd definitely be honoured to stay with this team," said Fiacconi, who still has a year and an option left on his current contract. "I'll just try to keep on improving, play the best football I can and get to the point where I can really be a name in this league."


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