Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Stamps will win
But don't bet on it
TORONTO — Doug Flutie summed up the foolishness and unpredictability of sports gambling perfectly.
Flutie was quarterback of the 1996 Toronto Argonauts and I was a terrible public relations man whose main chore was carting the grumpy quarterback around from one media outlet to another in a vain attempt to sell the CFL in Toronto.
That Argos club was very good with Flutie at the helm and they eventually won the Grey Cup. But along the way they went into Vancouver and lost to a vastly inferior B.C. Lions club. This was a long time ago and I wasn’t taking notes, but the conversation is easy to recall.
"You never know what’s going to happen. It’s why you should never bet on a game. There are no sure things," said Flutie. "No one knows if the quarterback is going to get in a fight with his wife over breakfast. Or which player is going to get messed up the night before. You can prepare all you want and most often the best team wins, but there are so many variables. It’s impossible to predict." Truer words on the subject have never been spoken. With that being said, the Calgary Stampeders will win the Grey Cup today. Bet on it. Or don’t.
There’s not much science to this pick. It’s Kevin Glenn’s turn. The Stampeders defence is underrated but efficient. Finally, Stamps coach John Hufnagel and his staff are the better group and will find a way to outwit the Argos.
Argos pivot Ricky Ray has been on the mark the last four weeks, throwing 11 touchdowns and just one interception. He’s tough to rattle and deadly at short range. His level at this moment is the highest of any quarterback in the league all season. Kevin Glenn has found his stride with the Stamps and the combination of offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson and Hufnagel has worked wonders for his game. Glenn has cut down on his interceptions, throwing 16 this season against 25 touchdowns. There’s lots to like about both quarterbacks and while Ray gets the slight edge in performance, Glenn will be the story of the season if he gets a win.
Jon Cornish led the CFL in rushing with 1,457 yards on 259 carries. The Stamps are 10-0 when Cornish has 15 carries or more.
Toronto’s Chad Kackert had a solid season collecting 638 yards on 100 carries, and his average gain of 6.4 yards per carry is slightly higher than Cornish’s 5.6. Cornish is the more experienced back and the most patient in the CFL, allowing his line to work for him.
Stamps rush end Charleston Hughes was second in the league with 11 sacks. The Argos defensive line has grown old and slow this season. Both secondaries are average.
Calgary allowed 1,786 yards on the ground this season while Toronto gave up 2,000.
Calgary’s front seven does a better job than the Argos.
The Argos were best in the league at plus-10 while Calgary was minus-4.
Stamps kicker Rene Paredes was good on 40 of 43 field-goal attempts this season for a 93 per cent success rate. Toronto’s kickers, including today’s starter Swayze Waters, were good on 47 off 66 attempts for a 71.2 percentage. Toronto’s Chad Owens is dangerous but so is Calgary’s Larry Taylor.
Hufnagel set the tone for the week when during the coaches press conference he put his hands on the Grey Cup while Argos boss Scott Milanovich did not. When asked about their choices, Milanovich said he was deferring to tradition. Hufnagel smiled and said, "I think my name’s already on it." Hufnagel has the experience and has surrounded himself with the best coaching staff in the CFL.
The final word
Calgary has been the better team all season and they knocked off the champ to get here. Toronto has made a nice surge but I’m not convinced they’re at the level of the Stamps. Kevin Glenn doesn’t have to win this game alone. He can rely on Cornish to eat up ground and the clock. Mistakes will be key, but with Cornish carrying the load, Calgary will minimize its opportunities for error. Ray will make it interesting and if he has a perfect day could steal the game. But I like Calgary to grind it out and win 35-31.
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About Gary Lawless
Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.
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