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By Ted Michaels, CFL Editor - Archive - Email
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Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - We're halfway through the CFL regular season and the Labor Day Weekend is when teams start to make their move for a playoff berth, and try to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Three of the four weekend games went down to the wire, and if they are indicative of what's to come, the second half of the season should be a beauty.

Montreal Alouettes (6-3)

The Labor Day weekend got off to a great start Friday night, when the Als beat the defending Grey Cup champion BC Lions, 30-25.

The win, their fourth in a row, was a dramatic one; Billy Parker knocked down a pass in the end zone with less than a minute left in the game to preserve the win.

Offensively, quarterback Anthony Calvillo threw for over 300 yards for the eight consecutive game, establishing a new CFL record. Montreal appears to be reverting to the form that has made them perennial Grey Cup contenders.

BC Lions (6-3)

The Lions had their four-game winning streak end with the loss in Montreal. Still, the Lions can take a big positive from the loss, which was the play of kick returner Tim Brown, who had 11 total touches for 270 yards.

Lions fans also can take solace that the game was the third for their team in 12 days. Take that, along with the five-hour flight, and three-hour time zone difference, and the loss may be just a temporary setback in a long season.

The two teams meet in the rematch on Saturday in British Columbia.

Toronto Argonauts (5-4)

In the words of Argos slotback/kick returner Chad Owens, "That is the turning point of the season."

He was referring to the Argos' 33-30 win over Hamilton.

Owens had a career day, with 11 catches for 176 yards and a total of 402 combined yards. Meanwhile, Ricky Ray passed for 375 yards.

The Argos host Hamilton again on Saturday. With a win, the Argos will just about wrap up second place, and a home playoff game.

Owens may be right.

Calgary Stampeders (5-4)

The Labor Day Classic at McMahon Stadium in Calgary had a bit of everything, but in the end, Calgary beat Edmonton, 31-30.

Quarterback Kevin Glenn, who was close to wearing the goat horns after throwing an interception that was taken into the end zone to give Edmonton a 30-25 lead with just over five minutes left in the game, redeemed himself by leading the Stamps on a five-play, 51-yard drive that culminated in his game-winning 7-yard touchdown pass to Larry Taylor with 1:03 left.

Glenn completed 23-of-30 passes for 273 yards along with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and showed the leadership that was expected of him.

The Eskimos could have won the game, but Grant Shaw missed a potential game- winning, 48-yard field goal as the clock ticked down to zero.

Edmonton Eskimos (5-4)

The Stamps and the Eskimos meet again Friday night in the traditional rematch at Commonwealth Stadium.

The big question heading into the game is, who starts at quarterback?

Kerry Joseph, the 38-year-old veteran, made his first CFL start in 2 1/2 years on Labor Day, replacing Steven Jyles, who dressed but didn't play due a to calf injury.

Joseph was 17-of-27 for 311 yards, but that may not matter.

"If Steven is not healthy, Kerry will be our starter," Eskimos coach Kavis Reed said after the game.

"Emotionally and physically, we played a good game. We could have won," he added.

The Eskimos usually get their biggest home crowd of the season at the Friday night rematch. With a win, they even the series between the two, with two games left. A loss and it may be tough for the Eskimos to clinch second place.

Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-5)

Rider Nation breathed a huge sigh of relief on Sunday, when they saw their team destroy the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 52-0.

The shutout was the ninth in franchise history, but the first since a 40-0 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Aug. 15, 1976.

Saskatchewan held the Winnipeg offense to just 102 yards in total yardage, including 10 first downs. The win was the Riders' first after starting the season 3-0, then losing five in a row.

If the Riders can string a few more wins together, they may finish in fourth place in the CFL West.

Normally, that wouldn't be good enough for a playoff berth. But, remember, if the fourth-place team in the West has more points than the third-place team in the East, it crosses over into the East for a playoff berth. And that may happen.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-6)

A sell-out crowd, the last Labor Day Classic at Ivor Wynne, and more of the same.

The Tiger-Cats coughed up 22 points in the fourth quarter and lost 33-30 to the arch-rival Argos. That's the fourth consecutive game in which Hamilton leads have evaporated.

The highlight was the play of Chris Williams. The diminutive punt returner took a punt back 82 yards for a touchdown - his sixth return touchdown of the season, setting a new CFL record.

Overall, Williams has 11 of the Tiger-Cats' 30 touchdowns. Which begs the question, where would they be without him in the lineup?

Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-7)

So Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack decides to make a coaching change heading into the Labor Day weekend grudge match with Saskatchewan. Paul LaPolice was replaced by Tim Burke.

One of the reasons given was a lack of discipline. After the game, the stat sheet said it all: 12 penalties for 101 yards, including two for unnecessary roughness and one for objectionable conduct.

Oh, by the way, the final score was Saskatchewan 52, Winnipeg 0. It was the first time the Blue Bombers had been shutout since 1969.

Immediately after the game, a Facebook page called "Fire Joe Mack Petition" was started, and a "Fire Joe Mack" Twitter feed was created.

What do the Bombers brass think of that?

Bill Watchorn, the chairperson of the Blue Bombers board of directors said, "One game is not a season. Disappointing though it may be, the board has confidence in Joe Mack, the coaches and the players and the CEO (Garth Buchko)."

Blue Bombers fans deserve better..

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? ted@900chml.com


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