Paul LaPolice believes it will be a “neat moment” when he makes his debut as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach in a CFL regular-season game versus Hamilton on Friday.
“I don’t feel any different,” LaPolice said Thursday. “I just want to make sure that we get out there, and make sure that we’re ready. I’m sure, (Friday) afternoon when we go out on to the field, that will be a real neat moment just because this is a great place to be.“
LaPolice was asked if he thought he would be able to sleep the night before his debut.
“Probably. I think I will,” he said. “You try to do your heaviest lifting mentally (Wednesday), the day before, when you’re trying to get everything right, to make sure the gameplans are all ready. I think the players are prepared and ready, and we’ll go see who executes the best (Friday) night.”
SNAPPING TO: Bomber offensive lineman/long snapper Adam Bestard will also make his debut, filling in for injured veteran long snapper Chris Cvetkovic.
“There’s always nerves but there’s always the excitement part of it, too,” said the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Wilfrid Laurier product. “So, I’ve just got to get settled in and, once I get my first snap, I think I’ll be all right.”
Bestard, 23, even made the odd special teams tackle during the pre-season.
“Yeah, I got downfield for a few tackles so that was pretty exciting,” he said. “In college, I think I had a half-dozen or so. When I was able to get one, everyone was pretty happy.”
DOUGLAS DEBUT: Another one of at least seven Bombers making a CFL debut Friday is import offensive tackle Andre Douglas.
“I’m excited, very excited,” said the 6-foot-4, 318-pound offensive tackle. “I’m a little bit nervous but I’m prepared for this so, I’m going to go out there and let it all out.
“I’m just going to do my best. That’s all you can do, then let the chips fall where they may.”
13TH NIGHTMARE: LaPolice was part of the Saskatchewan coaching staff that was partially at blame for allowing a 13th man on the field when Montreal missed a field goal attempt on the last play of the Grey Cup game. The penalty gave the Alouettes a second try, which was made and which won the CFL championship. So, he was asked what has been done to ensure that the Bombers have the correct number of players on special teams.
“Every day, we do that,” he replied. “We spend a little more time going through situations than other teams do.”
PLAYOFF EXPECTATIONS: LaPolice seemed taken aback when asked if not making the playoffs this season would be considered a failure.
“That’s a hard statement to say,” he responded. “Our goal is to be at the championship, so I don’t think anybody … is saying, ‘It’s OK if we have a decent year but not make the playoffs.’ Our goal is to be in the playoffs and be in the hunt at the end of the year.”