Blue aiming for first

JIM BENDER, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 12:28 PM ET

It is not as if the Blue Bombers needed any more reasons to beat detested Saskatchewan in tonight's 40th Labour Day Classic in Regina.

But now that Montreal lost to B.C. Friday night, Winnipeg is four points behind the first-place Alouettes in the CFL East.

"(First) has always been in my sights but we've got to take advantage of these opportunities, and hopefully we'll be able to this week," Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry said yesterday.

"We can't control what other teams do but when they play before us, it presents an opportunity and it should be one extra incentive if we need one."

The Bombers are not only hoping to snap a three-game losing skid but Saskatchewan swept their three-game series last season.

"They beat us three times last year?" said offensive lineman Mike Abu-Mechrek. "How about the year before that when they didn't beat us? So maybe this is the rubber year where they got last year and we got the year before that.

"If we want first place in the East, we can have it. All we've got to do -- and it's not going to be easy -- is to win the next two games. Then we're sitting pretty."

Tonight's match is the first of back-to-back games between the two prairie rivals.

'ONE WE WANT'

"Every game becomes pivotal here, this one not quite as much as an Eastern opponent. But still, it's one that we want to get," Berry said. "We need them all right now. We couldn't take the last three and we let other teams close in on us (in the East). We want to be able to separate it again."

The Bombers will welcome back both starting quarterback Kevin Glenn and slotback Milt Stegall from injury after a three-game absence -- all losses.

"I'm thinking about Saskatchewan and not thinking about Montreal losing," Glenn said. "We've got to go out and handle our business. If we take care of our business, all that other stuff will fall into place.

"We're trying to get back on track. What's happened in the past has happened in the past, so this is a clean slate we're trying to work on from here on. We're going to go out as if we were 0-0 and we're trying to get our first win."

But Winnipeg is 5-5 and tied with Toronto for second in the East. The Roughriders are also 5-5 and third in the West after winning their last two games.

Saskatchewan won the back-to-back series last season, starting a five-game winning streak. The Bombers dropped to 3-7, finished 5-13 and missed the playoffs.

"The bottom line is we need a victory," said Bombers cornerback Omar Evans. "I don't care who we're playing against this week, we need a victory bad. It just so happens to fall on Saskatchewan and they're pretty much in the same predicament we're in. We're 5-5 and they're 5-5 and you want to get the victory because you want to start going in the right way, not the wrong way."

Winnipeg will play host to the Roughriders in the third annual Banjo Bowl next Sunday.


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