The Matchup at McMahon

By Michael-Louis Ingram, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: November 27, 2009

PHILADELPHIA (BASN) – The combatants for the 97th edition of North America’s oldest professional football championship — Canada’s Grey Cup — are now defined and poised for a Hoedown Showdown in Calgary, Alberta this Sunday.

Behind five touchdown passes by quarterback Anthony Calvillo, the Montreal Alouettes crushed the British Columbia Lions, 56 – 18 in the Canadian Football League’s Eastern Division final.

A partisan crowd of over 53,000 viewed the carnage with glee at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium as the Als and Calvillo shredded the Lions’ defense.

The win would allow Montreal to compete for the Grey Cup for the seventh time in the decade. At 15-3, Montreal was the best team in the league by a wide margin during the regular season – but can claim only two Cup titles in the last nine years; their most recent cup appearance was an upset by the Calgary Stampeders last year.

If there was any positive to take from the loss, the B.C. Lions may have resurrected a franchise quarterback in their re-signing of Casey Printers. Printers, named the league’s Most Outstanding Player in 2005, was selected to finish a season of banged-up pivots in Vancouver, and his play was spectacular down the stretch.

With incumbents Buck Pierce and Jarious Jackson in tow, it will be interesting to see who will be under center next July in beautiful British Columbia.

Meanwhile, in the West, a sky of blue and a Sea of Green spoiled the plans of the defending Grey Cup champs as the Calgary Stampeders were soundly defeated by the Saskatchewan Roughriders 27-17 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

In the Western Division final, quarterback Darian Durant passed for two major scores and the Rider defense came up big in frustrating Calgary QB Henry Burris’ efforts to have the Stampeders defend their Cup on home turf.

Twenty years removed from the franchise’s signature Grey Cup appearance, the Green Riders have a similar look in their offensive approach as the 1989 team; Canadian content via the Riders’ Air Force – wide receiver Rob Bagg (Queens University) and slot backs Chris Getzlaf (Regina) and Andy Fantuz (Western Ontario).

The slot back tandem on the 1989 team, Jeff Fairholm and Ray Elgaard, were crucial to the team’s success in defeating Hamilton in one of the greatest Grey Cups ever played. Getzlaf and Fantuz’s roles and dependence on performance in this current Rider offense are similar – but take on a different look with Bagg thrown in.

The delicate import/non-import balance is usually weighted with import players at the skill positions; so Sky Marshall Durant and his Canadian Air Force will have to be ready to soar against a very powerful opponent in Montreal.

As to the outcome, well – while it is kind of difficult to argue against les Alouettes, I see destiny peeking back at history.

The Green Riders of the Western Plains emerge victorious: 43 – 39.