Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Leos look forward to frosty faceoff

Say chilly temps in Regina no problem

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VANCOUVER -- B.C. Lions defensive back Dante Marsh has seen the weather forecasts ahead of Sunday's CFL West Division semifinal.

It doesn't faze him one bit.

"If we've got to play at two in the morning on the moon, Jupiter, Neptune ... then that's where we've got to play," the 10-year veteran said this week. "I'm not going to let peripheral things sidetrack me mentally to take me away from the job at hand."

While that job won't be taking them out of this world, the Lions (11-7) travel to chilly Regina to meet the Saskatchewan Roughriders (11-7) on Sunday for a playoff game that could see temperatures drop as low as -15 C.

Despite the frigid conditions in this year's Grey Cup host city, neither team expects the cold to be much of a factor in the contest to decide the Calgary Stampeders' opponent in the West final.

'Once you're out on the field and running around, a lot of times you don't feel it. That's not to downplay it. (But) a lot of times you can mentally block out the weather. I don't foresee cold being too big of an issue'

-- Lions QB Travis Lulay

"Once you're out on the field and running around, a lot of times you don't feel it. That's not to downplay it," said Lions quarterback Travis Lulay. "(But) a lot of times you can mentally block out the weather.

"I don't foresee cold being too big of an issue."

Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin said the conditions could give his team a slight edge, but noted it could also have the opposite effect.

"If we start to prepare in our minds that 'Oh it's going to be huge. They can't do this, they can't do that,' that's when it becomes a disadvantage," said Chamblin. "They've played in this league long enough to understand that it's going to be cold this time of year.

"We're not looking for advantages, we're just looking to do what we need to do, execute and win a game."

What's more likely to be the difference on Sunday is both teams' ability to run the football.

Saskatchewan running back Kory Sheets finished No. 2 in the league in total yards with 1,598 to go along with 12 touchdowns despite missing two games because of injury.

He suited up for two of the Roughriders' three games with the Lions -- Saskatchewan's only victories against B.C. -- compiling 228 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think he's a very special running back," said Lions defensive end Keron Williams. "For somebody that size to be that nifty ... his centre of gravity is not that low and he can bounce it and go the distance -- that's a special player.

"He's definitely circled in our books."

Lions head coach Mike Benevides, himself a big proponent of the passing game, said stopping Sheets will be crucial for the No. 1-ranked B.C. defence that was second against the run.

"That's their DNA. It's been that way since Day 1. When they get up ... they really manage the clock well that way by running the football," said Benevides.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2013 C4

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