Let The Game be­gin

98th Grey Cup could go down as one of the all- time great­est matchups

SundayXtra - - TRENDS - BY ED TAIT

DMON­TON It is Ali vs. Frazier, Yan­kees vs. Red Sox, Cana­di­ens vs. Maple Leafs all wrapped up to make one spec­tac­u­lar matchup that should have ev­ery foot­ball fan in this coun­try hang­ing on ev­ery snap.

Star power It is a re­match of last year’s Grey Cup. It’s a game with sig­nif­i­cant sub­plots and over­flow­ing with star power.

And when the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers and Mon­treal Alou­ettes meet in the 98th Grey Cup game we can all only hope it delivers the same drama and thrills as ev­ery other meet­ing be­tween these two squads over the last year or so, in­clud­ing last year’s cham­pi­onship that ended in dra­matic fashion.

“ We just don’t want to feel like we did af­ter the game,” said Rider re­ceiver Andy Fan­tuz. “ It’s not about pay­back or re­venge or any­thing like that. It’s a new sea­son, new teams and we want to be champs. Mon­treal stands in our way. We don’t want to have that sick feel­ing like last year.”

The Als and Rid­ers have many sim­i­lar­i­ties, in­clud­ing a pass-first of­fen­sive phi­los­o­phy and ac­tive and mul­ti­plelook de­fences.

That said, Mon­treal is cast in the role of grey­beard champ cling­ing onto the belt for one more ti­tle de­fence — they want to be­come the first re­peat champ since the Toronto Arg­onauts of 199697 — while the Rid­ers are the ris­ing con­tenders.

“ We’re the champs. Un­til some­body tells us dif­fer­ent, that’s how we’re go­ing to go out there and act, and that’s how we’re go­ing to go out there and play,” said Alou­ette slot­back Jamel Richardson on Satur­day. “ We’re go­ing to go out and try to cap­ture this moment and make his­tory.”

It’s been an in­ter­est­ing Grey Cup week, what with the Alou­ettes claim­ing a league bias to­ward the Rid­ers and feel­ing like they’ve been dissed by any­one and ev­ery­one.

They’ll take the field in what should be a pre­dom­i­nantly pro-Rider crowd at Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium and then at­tempt to es­tab­lish them­selves as one of the great­est CFL teams in re­cent me­mory.

“ We got the away locker-room. We got the away ho­tel,” said run­ning back Avon Cobourne “ And ba­si­cally the me­dia are act­ing like we didn’t win it last year. They’re act­ing like they ( Saskatchewan) lost it. Them act­ing like we didn’t win it is def­i­nitely some­thing that’s go­ing to make it a lot eas­ier to get out here and give ( Saskatchewan) what they got last year.”

Both head coaches said Satur­day they didn’t say any­thing pro­found to their charges af­ter their fi­nal pre-game walk-through, nor will they be overly dra­matic in their speeches be­fore kick­off.

No need to, re­ally. This is a matchup that needs no fur­ther hype.

“ In the last three games, we’ve be­come more phys­i­cal, so I’ve talked with them about phys­i­cal dom­i­nance,” said Rider boss Ken Miller. “ I said ‘ Re­gard­less of what you’re do­ing to­day, if you’re lay­ing down to take a nap, if you’re go­ing to have a bite to eat, if you’re go­ing to kiss your wife, think about mind­set. Think about those things, mental tough­ness and phys­i­cal dom­i­nance, that when we play to­mor­row, those things come to the fore­front.”’

Both teams wake up to­day Grey Cup con­tenders. Only one ends the day a cham­pion.

DON HEALY / POSTMEDIA NEWS

Roughrid­ers slot­back Andy Fan­tuz will be all steamed up to­day when he takes the field at Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium.

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