Friday, November 27, 2009

Alouettes and Roughriders to Battle for the Grey Cup

This article was first published in the November 27th edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

Alouettes and Roughriders to Battle for the Grey Cup

As the CFL prepares for the 97th Grey Cup in Calgary's McMahon Stadium on November 29th, the most intriguing storyline is the fact that the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders will meet in the championship game for the first time in the history of the league. Considering the numerous all-stars that have suited up for both teams over the years, it is remarkable that this will be their first meeting in the Grey Cup. The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association team defeated the Regina Roughriders 22-0 in the 1931 Championship; however, this will be the first Roughrider/Alouettes match-up.

It has been a season to remember on the Prairies. With a first place finish in the Western Division, the Roughriders earned a home date for the Western Final for the first time in 33 years. The “sea of green” was out in full force, as 30,945 Saskatchewan fans gathered at Mosaic Stadium to help the Riders defeat the defending Champions from Calgary by a 27-17 score on November 22nd.

To put the importance of the victory in perspective, the last time the Roughriders played a Western Final at home, CFL legend Ron Lancaster was at the helm for the green and white. It was a well-earned victory for the Roughriders and their faithful fans and they can now proudly call themselves the Western Champions.

In the Eastern Final at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, the Alouettes handled the B.C. Lions quite easily and defeated the Lions by a 56-18 score in front of 53,792 fans. Montreal QB, Anthony Calvillo, added another CFL record to his 16-year resume with 5 touchdown passes in the game to tie the record for most TD passes in a playoff game. Once again, Montreal is the Eastern Division Champions and they will be the favourites in the Grey Cup game.

The Montreal defence was after Lions QB Casey Printers right from the start of the game, forcing him to scramble for yards and make ineffective passes. Movie buffs may remember the 1968 film, Paper Lions, starring Alan Alda as real-life reporter George Plimpton. In the movie, Plimpton secretly joins the Detroit Lions training camp to try-out for the team and conduct research for a series of articles. When his cover is blown, he must earn the respect of his teammates by surviving the daily scrimmages and practical jokes at his expense.

When he enters a pre-season game as a rookie quarterback, fearing for his life, Alda’s character repeatedly runs towards his own end zone, trying to avoid the rushing defenders and the crushing hits that he is about to receive. With the Montreal defenders cutting through the B.C. offensive line like a warm knife through butter, Printers resembled Alan Alda and probably felt like he played on the B.C. Paper Lions.

The 97th Grey Cup game will be one to remember; for Saskatchewan, it is their second Grey Cup appearance in three years - winning the Championship in 2007 over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Alouettes will make their seventh appearance in the Grey Cup since the year 2000; with only one victory during that time, Calvillo and the Al’s will look to earn their place in CFL history as one of the greatest all-time teams with a win. Have a great sports day everyone.

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