Realty One

Sunday, November 20, 2016


CALGARY - There was no magical comeback to be found this time around for the B.C. Lions.

There wasn't even the possibility amidst their 42-15 beatdown at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders in Sunday's CFL West final, not with the way the hosts ran roughshod over the Lions before the McMahon Stadium crowd of 32,115 to earn a berth in the Grey Cup.

Even in the CFL, a 32-0 deficit in the first half is too much to overcome.

"We knew that what we did against Winnipeg, we can't do that against a great team like Calgary. We didn't start off fast enough and they took it to us,'' said Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings, whose team erased a 19-point deficit against the Blue Bombers a week earlier.

"For whatever reason, we weren't as electrifying as always. Playing like that against a team that score like they can, it's going to be hard for you to win.''

Calgary will play the Ottawa Redblacks for the CFL championship next Sunday in Toronto.

The Stampeders clinched the West Division regular season crown on Thanksgiving and hadn't played a meaningful game since. Toss in the fact they hadn't even suited up for a game since before Halloween, and the possibility of being a rusty squad loomed large.

Those thoughts were alleviated on their first drive. After Roy Finch returned the opening kickoff 46 yards, Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell promptly marched the team to the end zone, a drive capped off by Lamar Durant's three-yard scamper.

The Lions had no response and watched their season slip away before even having a chance to regroup in the locker-room at halftime.

"There's lots of things, some of them you can't repeat but it's the game,'' Lions head coach Wally Buono said when asked what was going through his mind during the first half. "I've been in the game 100 years and I've seen this 100 times.

"I've been on the other side when it's been good and I've been on this side when it's bad. Once it starts rolling, you've got to break the momentum. In the first half, we couldn't break the momentum.''

Buono's squad couldn't find a spark, either, whether it was on offence or defence against a Calgary team which led the league with a 16-1-1 mark in the regular season.

"You've got to give credit where credit is due. They've won that many games for a reason,'' said Lions defensive back Ryan Phillips amidst a sombre locker-room. "The things we were supposed to do to eliminate some of their big plays and minimize some of their big plays, we didn't execute in the first half and it showed up on the scoreboard.''

Jennings completed 17-of-24 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown, but the only points came late in the contest when the result was determined.

Travis Lulay took the helm to start the second half and engineered a touchdown drive on his first possession, but an interception toss in the Calgary end zone late in the third quarter spelled the end of his outing.

"It was important for us to try to get Jonathon back in the game, make sure he didn't leave 2016 with the bad taste of the first half in his mouth,'' Buono said of his decision to give the controls back to Jennings.

That said, the end result isn't much to savour.

"We probably accomplished a lot more than people thought we could, but for me, I still feel disappointed,'' Buono said. "My goal was to be in Toronto and sip out of the Cup, and that didn't happen. Maybe that was unrealistic, but, if your dreams aren't big, they're not really your dreams.''

(The Canadian Press)


Anonymous said...

I envy the Stampeder fans. It would sure be nice to have a team you could be proud of year after year.

Anonymous said...

Glad I never wasted the afternoon watching that "game".

George Porge said...

So stoked to be a Stampeder fan cheering for Durant in the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

Stamps should be a 21 point favourite in the Cup next Sunday

Anonymous said...

So turn in your Rider gear and become a stump fan. Easy to jump on and off the band wagon.

Anonymous said...

And how is it that Bo Levi is not starting in the NFL?? New York Jets and the Chicago Bears sure could use him.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"So turn in your Rider gear and become a stump fan. Easy to jump on and off the band wagon."

I'm not turning nothing in, I just admitted I'm jealous. I'd like a good team for years to come but obviously you're content with the sh*tshow we now have.

George Porge said...

"I'd like a good team for years to come but obviously you're content with the sh*tshow we now have."

I don't think a lot of people are content with the sh*t show happening in Riderville. In fact, plenty of CFL fans who normally hate the Riders (like yours truly) recognize the need to have a healthy team in Regina and are missing the rivalries that we had only a few short years ago.

Chris Jones was hired to rebuild the team into a long-term contender, and every single move he's made to-date (yes, that includes the supposed hardball tactics with the Durant negotiations) has been with that goal in mind. Sure, it was ugly (really, REALLY ugly) this year, but you have to think of it this way - from the start of the off season, everyone *knew* the Riders weren't going to be a Grey Cup contender in 2016. Every decision made has to start from that premise.

So now you consider two choices - do what other "guaranteed non-contenders" like the Argos did this year, and play your games all year with experienced guys who are not going to be around in two, three, or four seasons down the road, and *maybe* finish the year with a better than .400 record, maybe even make it to the playoffs (in a nine-team league) and still end your season without a championship. You might have a little more pride than you have now, but all you've accomplished is gaining experience for players who are only going to retire or be on competing teams in the coming seasons.

Or, you treat the whole season as a training camp. Bring in player after player in almost every position on the depth chart. Try them out, experiment with schemes, and figure out who might actually have potential to be a good player for the long term. End the season with an abysmal record, sure, but also end the season with a good core of players who have nothing but youth and upside who you actually may be able to sign for multiple seasons.

This is the choice Chris Jones had to make when starting his tenure with the Riders. His choice became clear when he let go players that were clearly good players, but would have gained the team only a few more wins on the season but few future prospects.

The one choice that many (like myself) found odd about Jones' choices in the year was having Durant start most games this season, instead of focusing on developing the QB of the future. However in retrospect, I think he really wanted to see how prospective receivers would do with a decent QB at the helm. Now that I think he's got a good base of receivers, Jones' next task will be finding and developing the next franchise quarterback. Durant will probably be back next year, but he's going to be in a Travis Lulay role with a short-term incentives-based contract and a permanent spot on the sideline with a clipboard.

A lot of people can envy Calgary and the fact that they've been contenders year in and year out. The thing is, to get to a place where you have that kind of winning culture takes a ton of work and dedication (it can be argued that the situation in Calgary doesn't exist anywhere else in the CFL right now). It's not just good scouting and finding diamonds in the rough, it is a constant attention to developing the next man up and treating your backups like they are starters. It is making *all* players compete for their jobs (and yes, the downside of that is franchise favorite players like Nik Lewis, Keon Raymond, Joffery Reynolds, Henry Burris may find themselves benched, even if they play well enough to win, because someone better has come along). It is developing a clear succession plan both on the field and in the coaching ranks.

Anonymous said...

There has been 1 O-N-E western final played at Taylor Field/Mosiac Stadium since the days of George and Ronnie.

That constitutes a sh*tshow.

But if you say anything about it, someone labels you a 'bandwagon jumper'

Chris said...

"There has been 1 O-N-E western final played at Taylor Field/Mosiac Stadium since the days of George and Ronnie."

Lack of Grey Cups can be directly correlated with the inability to win your division on a semi regular basis. Finishing first doesn't guarantee anything but sure makes that road easier.

George Porge said...

"Finishing first doesn't guarantee anything but sure makes that road easier."

It does, and it also usually means that you have been consistently better than your opponents. Including this year, it will have been three years in a row that the Grey Cup was won by a team that finished first in their division.

Unknown said...

Once the Rider's figure out there isn't a salary cap on scouts and talent scouts they will be fine. That's why Calgary is at or near the top of the league year after year. That's why Wally is seemingly able to find a star QB on the lower East Side.