Biggest game in years

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

Saturday.

6 p.m.

Canad Inns Stadium.

If you're a Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan, you might want to be there.

That's because the Montreal Alouettes -- the 3-0 Alouettes -- are the ones coming to town this weekend and Winnipeg is 3-1 after a gritty, 24-17 triumph over the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.

That means the Winnipeg-Montreal winner will be sitting in first place in the East Division, six points up on the third-place Argos, come Saturday night.

'TRULY EXCITED'

"Hopefully we'll get a packed house in here," said Bombers slotback Milt Stegall. "It'll be exciting. I think the people are truly excited right now. They're slowly coming back, and that's what winning does."

Even if it is only Week 5, you have to go back several seasons to find a game of this magnitude for the Bombers. As a result, this weekend's game could represent a box-office boost the Winnipeg Football Club must be desperately wanting after two mediocre crowds so far this season.

The subplots for Saturday's game are juicy.

The teams met in the season-opener in Montreal, which the Alouettes won 27-17 after scoring 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. In addition, members of both teams traded barbs through the media in the days following the match, accusing one another of dirty play.

It will also mark the first regular-season appearance in Winnipeg for Montreal safety Richard Karikari, who almost signed with the Bombers in the off-season but decided at the last minute to re-up with the Alouettes.

"I don't think they'll have to market too much as far as selling tickets this week," noted Stegall.

There's also Bombers head coach Doug Berry, who spent the past seven years in Montreal and has helped transform the Bombers from pretender to contender in just a few months on the job.

Berry is well aware of the history.

"I know what playing Montreal in Winnipeg is going to be all about," he said.

The Bombers and Alouettes despised one another back in 2001, which is the last time they were in the East together.

The Bombers sold out the Stadium both times the Alouettes came to town that year, and the contests were decided by five points or fewer.

The optimism surrounding the Bombers, meanwhile, hasn't been this high since 2002, which is when the club began its free-fall that led to playoff misses in 2004 and 2005.

There are plenty of reasons for the Bomber faithful to be hopeful.

Quarterback Kevin Glenn is taking care of the ball, not coughing up turnovers, and staying upright behind a strong offensive line.

The defence, meanwhile, is allowing a league-low 30.5 rushing yards per game.

The secondary, which is giving up the yards but not the touchdowns, is playing well but will face a stiff challenge in Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

Stegall isn't concerned about Winnipeg's Cinderella defence turning into a pumpkin any time soon.

"We know what our defence can do, and a lot of people are saying it's gonna end one day," he said. "I think they can play like that all year long."

How much help they get from the 13th man on Saturday will say a lot.


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