Avery would love a repeat of 2002

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

TORONTO -- John Avery breaks into a size-large grin the moment he hears the question.

So what does the Toronto running back remember about the last time he faced the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a division final?

"Somebody told me that was going to come up," Avery said. "It was a very interesting game. I did OK."

That's one way of putting it.

It was the 2002 West Final in Edmonton, and Avery ran roughshod over the Bombers defence -- 144 yards on 17 carries in less than three quarters' work -- in a 33-30 Eskimos victory that vaulted Edmonton into its hometown Grey Cup game.

Today, Avery will be one of two Toronto running backs trying to run the Argos into their Grey Cup.

"There was a time this season no one thought we could be in this position," Avery said yesterday. "No one thought I'd be in uniform. You never understand how much you miss it until it's taken away from you."

It's been a spotty year for the part-time standup comic, scriptwriter and actor, sidelined first by an ankle injury, then by Toronto coach Pinball Clemons, who went with Robert Edwards much of the second half of the season.

With Edwards hurt, Avery played the last two games, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for a combined 137 yards.

Today, they'll both play.

"We've got a two-game season right now," Avery said. "It's a great feeling. I haven't wanted a win this bad in a long time."

OH, CANADA: Bomber D-lineman Tom Canada is plenty hungry, too, having never played in a division final.

"I've never been this far," Canada said. "From what I hear from guys like Milt, guys who've been around a while, this is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Who knows when it could happen again? You can just feel a buzz around the locker-room and on the field. We're pumped to go out there and kick some butt."

ARGOS CFL'S CHOICE?: We'd love to inject CFL commissioner Mark Cohon with truth serum, which, we're guessing, would produce something like this: "Go, Argos, Go!"

Let's face it, having Toronto in the Grey Cup would be best for three-down football in the Centre of the Universe.

Right, Doug Berry?

"I don't know what the league expects, wants or anything else," the Bombers head coach said. "I know what I want."


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