Bombers clinch playoff spot

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

CALGARY -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers clinched a playoff spot yesterday, and they didn't even have to wear helmets.

The Bombers secured their second straight post-season berth under head coach Doug Berry when the B.C. Lions downed the Edmonton Eskimos 24-18 yesterday afternoon.

Though it was a West Division battle, Edmonton's loss means Winnipeg can't fall victim to the crossover rule.

The news wasn't greeted with a massive celebration by the Bombers, as they have led the East Division all season long and have a bigger goal in mind.

"Our focus is on Calgary and securing a home playoff game, not just making the playoffs," Bombers GM Brendan Taman said.

HOME SWEET HOME: This weekend is a homecoming for Winnipeg offensive lineman Alexandre Gauthier, whom the Stampeders traded to the Bombers in February.

Gauthier still has a house here and works all over Alberta in the off-season for a Calgary-based seismic company. He will have many friends in the crowd this afternoon.

The quick trip to Cowtown prevented Gauthier from visiting with his old teammates, however.

He had to go to his house yesterday to get it ready for winter, and the Bombers return to Winnipeg immediately after today's game.

"I'm going to talk with those guys probably 10 or 15 minutes after the game, that's about it," Gauthier said. "But they're coming to Winnipeg next week."

Winnipeg hosts Calgary on Friday night at Canad Inns Stadium.

FAMILIAR FACE: When the Winnipeg offence is on the field today against the Calgary defence, two friends will be trying to out-think the other.

Bombers offensive co-ordinator Kit Cartwright and new Stamps defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke go back 14 years. When Cartwright was the head coach at Butler University three years ago, he tried to hire Burke as the team's defensive co-ordinator.

Burke instead decided to join the Stamps staff as the secondary coach and was promoted last week when Denny Creehan was fired.

"This is a complete surprise that now we're duelling as co-ordinators," Burke said.

Cartwright, who met Burke at Ball State in 1993, believes his former colleague has what it takes to thrive in his new position. Calgary will use a 4-3 defensive front formation for the second straight week.

"He has great leadership skills and is a people person," Cartwright said. "He's very knowledgeable and professional."

LATE HITS: Stamps punter Burke Dales, who has been benched since mid-August, will return to the lineup today. Duncan O'Mahony, the man who disappeared mysteriously en route to Bombers training camp last year, had been filling in for Dales ... The Bombers have lost 10 of their last 12 games at McMahon Stadium since 1995, including four in a row ... Stamps linebacker Scott Coe, a Winnipeg native, will have his 68-game playing streak come to an end today thanks to a knee injury. Stamps safety Wes Lysack, another Winnipegger and former Bomber, is out with a shoulder injury.


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