Win or else, says Berry

Blue Bombers slotback Milt Stegall works out during practice at Canad Inns Stadium on Tuesday. (Sun...

Blue Bombers slotback Milt Stegall works out during practice at Canad Inns Stadium on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Jason Halstead)

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

The two longest-serving Winnipeg Blue Bombers couldn't be further apart on the emotional spectrum entering tonight's home-opener against the Montreal Alouettes.

Slotback Milt Stegall, a 13-year veteran, needs to get to the end zone only one more time to move past George Reed and Mike Pringle, and become the CFL's all-time touchdown leader with 138.

Struggling placekicker Troy Westwood, meanwhile, will watch tonight's contest from the sidelines, ending his consecutive games streak of 279 that has spanned 17 seasons. Newly acquired Rob Pikula will take his place.

In the end, though, both situations are all about the real reason for tonight's gathering at Canad Inns Stadium (7 p.m., CJOB/TSN), and that's winning or losing a football game.

Bombers head coach Doug Berry doesn't care about Westwood's consecutive games streak; he just wants to win; Stegall doesn't care about breaking the record tonight; he only wants to win

"I'm sure a lot of people are talking about the touchdown record," Stegall said. "But if you ask these fans, if you ask this organization, they'd rather that we win the game than Milt Stegall just break the record."

Stegall was asked yesterday how he would feel about someone other than Westwood kicking the convert on his record-breaking touchdown.

"You want to keep it business, but it becomes personal because he has been here my entire career," Stegall said. "I don't think he's missed a game in his entire career if I'm correct.

"(But) it won't be a bittersweet thing because I won't be thinking about it. As long as the guy who's kicking it makes it, that's my only concern."

HEAD START

Thanks to Winnipeg's 39-39 tie against the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal's 16-7 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week, the Bombers have a chance tonight to get a solid head start on a team that is expected to challenge for the East Division title.

"Should we come away with a win, being up three points on the Montreal Alouettes at the end of two weeks would be huge for our team," Berry said.

Stegall's record chase and the Westwood saga have overshadowed the fact that the Bomber offence, led by quarterback Kevin Glenn, is coming off one of its best performances in a while while the defence is coming off one of its worst.

"We're trying to come out, especially as an offence, and try to duplicate what we did last week," Glenn said. "But come away with one more point than the other team.

"Just because they're coming off a loss doesn't mean they're not a good team. They participated in the Grey Cup last year."

Glenn is looking forward to playing an important part in CFL history, but he knows it won't be about him at all should Stegall break the record.

"I'll go down in history as the guy that threw the pass to him," Glenn said. "But Milt is still going to get all the credit. You know how it goes. Milt is Milt. He's Mr. Winnipeg."

Interestingly, the CFL and the Bombers have decided to not have an in-game ceremony tonight if Stegall hauls in the history-making pass. If it happens this evening, he will be feted before next week's home game against Edmonton.

"That's how it should be," Stegall said. "... We don't need any distractions. The stoppage would be more for the fans. I would understand if they did, but since they're not stopping it I think it's a good thing.

"Montreal I'm sure doesn't want it to stop, and I know coach Berry doesn't want it to stop. It's a good thing."

Stegall will have a couple of close friends in the stands tonight, but his wife Darlene and son Chase won't be in Winnipeg until next week.


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