Labour Day means CFL rivalries

The Labour Day weekend is upon us. The traditional Canadian Football League rivalries have been set and the less traditional Montreal-B.C. game will open the festivities tonight at B.C. Place.

The Labour Day weekend is upon us. The traditional Canadian Football League rivalries have been set and the less traditional Montreal-B.C. game will open the festivities tonight at B.C. Place.

It may well be geography that figures into Montreal’s horrific record in B.C. The Als play like they are up well past their bedtime on the West Coast. Actually they are, but they live in an exciting city like Montreal and I would guess that the single guys rarely turn in early at home.

However, Montreal will win their first game in B.C. since 2000. Too much Anthony Calvillo, Ben Cahoon and Avon Cobourne will be too much to handle for the Lions. Montreal also has the best defence in the league and these guys will put pressure on the B.C. quarterbacks. Note that I said quarterbacks because I don’t think Jarious Jackson will play the whole game as B.C.’s pivot. Just a hunch.

The Sunday game features Winnipeg and Saskatchewan in a very heated Labour Day rivalry. This year, the Bombers come to town with Michael Bishop as their quarterback. Despite this serious handicap, the Bombers will be stiff competition for the ’Riders who must contend with Fred Reid’s superb running skills against a Saskatchewan defence that has been soft against the run.

Special teams are a major concern for the ’Riders, who have added Jason Armstead as a return guy to light things up for the green guys. The Bombers have also not been world beaters in the return game but have been good in special team coverage.

The ’Riders win this game because they have more balance on offence and pressure on defence. Plus Michael Bishop is Winnipeg’s quarterback.

The Toronto Argonauts find themselves in a must-win game even though the season is only at the halfway point. Their traditional rivals are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and this game reminds many people in southern Ontario that they actually play football in the region.

Toronto is right on the edge of competitive football as receiver P.K. Sam tries to make Argo fans forget the messy Arland Bruce divorce. Cody Pickett is clearly the undisputed starter at Argo quarterback as he advances his game every week. The next step is more touchdowns so a final play doesn’t become a bad decision not to attempt a field goal for Argo coach Bart Andrus.

The ’Cats are a much better team this year as a balanced offence produces solid pass and run numbers for the Tabbies. They don’t really have a quarterback starter written in stone but Kevin Glenn adds a competent presence to the team. The weakness for Hamilton has been the performance of their young Canadian receivers, who have been brutal at times.

This will be a hotly contested game but I believe that Hamilton will win on Monday.

The final game of the weekend is the Calgary-Edmonton game on Monday. The last game was a shootout as the teams scored at will and proved why our league is unmatched for sheer excitement when played at its best.

Expect more of the same in this game because two of the league’s best gunslingers (Ricky Ray and Henry Burris) meet again. Injuries and replacements in both teams’ secondaries will mean a lot of scoring in this game. Stamps win at home.

Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer whose column on the CFL appears on Fridays and Tuesdays. He may be reached at

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