Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's a battle of Canadian running backs, eh

Cornish, Harris key cogs in today's West final

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VANCOUVER -- The CFL's West final is shaping up as a battle featuring a couple of Canadian running backs -- with two different approaches to the game.

The game marks the rare occasion when two homegrown running backs, Jon Cornish of the Calgary Stampeders and Andrew Harris of the B.C. Lions, will start in the West Division's battle for a Grey Cup berth.

For Cornish, the game is a chance to prove that his CFL rushing title -- the first by a Canadian since Orville Lee of the defunct Ottawa Rough Riders in 1988 -- was no fluke. For Harris, who led the league in combined yards from scrimmage, it's just about doing more of the same.

"I might have received some recognition for my achievements," said Cornish after his team's walk-through Saturday at BC Place Stadium. "But at the end of the day, it's what you do in the post-season. To really solidify a solid season, you have to get to the Grey Cup. Without doing that, I would look back on the season with a little bit of regret.

"And I'm not a person that normally feels regret."

The 28-year-old New Westminster, B.C., native rushed for 1,457 yards while averaging 116 yards per game and 5.6 per carry while recording 11 touchdowns. He also broke former Edmonton great Normie Kwong's single-season record for a Canadian (1,437 yards).

Cornish's accomplishments earned him the Western nominations for CFL most outstanding player and top Canadian awards. Accordingly, the University of Kansas product has high expectation of himself heading into Sunday's contest.

"You can track it all the way back to high school," he said. "Any playoff game, any bowl game, any big game I've played in, I've had 100 or more yards. For me, this is when you make your mark -- in the playoffs. Approaching (the playoffs) the way you do a season game is not quite the same. You have to go each and every game prepared to play your heart out."

Harris gained 1,830 combined yards rushing and receiving to become the first Canadian to lead the CFL in yards from scrimmage since Terry Evanshen in 1967.

Heading into the 2011 West final against Edmonton, he was clearly an underdog. But after helping the Lions win the Grey Cup after a 0-5 start and achieving his latest accomplishments, he faces higher expectations. However, the 25-year-old Winnipeg native is still taking a low-key approach to his team's most important game of 2012.

"I don't really feel there's high expectations," he said after the Lions held their walk-through. "I just feel, at this point now, I just need to make plays again. It's always been the same for me."

But Harris, who rose up through the Canadian junior ranks and was tested as a returner, defensive back and receiver before he was given a chance to shine at a spot usually reserved for an American, said it's great to be compared to an outstanding running back like Cornish. Such comments differed from recent one when he expressed dislike for some of Cornish's antics, which have included mooning fans on a couple of occasions.

Harris downplayed the competition for yards with Cornish today.

"It's a different game now," said Harris. "It's playoff time. None of that stuff really matters, and what you did throughout the season doesn't really make a difference anymore. It's what's happens and how you react to this game, and what you do in this game."

The Stamps will start Kevin Glenn at QB today, due to an injury to Drew Tate.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2012 B4

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