HAMILTON -- For reasons everyone who follows the Winnipeg Blue Bombers can understand, Paul LaPolice is tired of talking about last year.
To relive what it was like to lose his starting quarterback, finish the season with a fourth-stringer at the controls who didn't attend trying camp, constantly be reminded of the fact his last-place team set a league record by dropping nine games by four points or fewer would qualify as a bad horror movie.
The good news for LaPolice is that he and his team will begin the process of making a 4-14 season in 2010 a distant memory on Friday night as the Blue Bombers open the 2011 CFL campaign against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Although the Blue Bombers return most of the starters from last year's squad, LaPolice rattled off a substantial check list when asked about the strengths of this edition of the football club.
"One of the strengths is going to be our secondary," said LaPolice. "Our linebackers are pretty fast and our overall team speed is going to be good on defence. Offensively, the run game should be a good part of what we do and our receiving corps can grow and get better.
"And I think our quarterback is pretty good."
The importance of quarterback Buck Pierce has been a recurring theme since training camp opened and rightfully so.
Now that the real games begin, it's clearer than ever that a healthy Pierce is the key to the Blue Bombers finding a way to get back to the post-season.
After spending most of the winter rehabbing in Winnipeg, Pierce is eager for the real games to begin.
"I've been preparing for it for about six months now," said Pierce, referring to the fact he hasn't played in a game since a season-ending elbow injury that took place in the Labour Day Classic against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. "I feel fine. The game is going to go how it's going to go."
While it's no surprise to have optimism at this point in the calendar, if the Blue Bombers are as good as they say they are, they might just be a Grey Cup contender.
"The strengths are across the board," added Blue Bombers defensive tackle Doug Brown. "It's pretty competent and pretty balanced. That's what it exciting about this, there's no gaping void."
Blue Bombers running back Fred Reid offered up a lofty goal for his team to try and live up to.
"Win all our games home and away, that's the plan," said Reid, who signed a contract extension on Wednesday. "I believe we've got all of the players in the locker room to do it. We've got the coaches. We just have to put everything together and handle our business."
Kickoff is 6:05 p.m. CT on Friday (TSN, CJOB).