Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jul 3 2015, Page 32

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - July 3, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C2 C 2 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2015 FOOTBALL winnipegfreepress. com MONTREAL — It could be that coach Tom Higgins was having some fun with his dire quarterback situation by not announcing which rookie, Brandon Bridge of Rakeem Cato, will be tonight’s starter. Higgins would only say both 23- year- olds will see action when the Alouettes play host to the Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders. “ I’m very pleased that you don’t know who the starting quarterback is, but flip a coin and know that both are going to be playing,” said Higgins. The Alouettes ( 0- 1) landed in hot water when starter Jonathan Crompton and newly acquired backup Dan LeFevour both suffered shoulder injuries in a CFL season- opening 20- 16 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks last week. Third stringer Tanner Marsh was already on the six- game injured list with a knee problem. Bridge should have the upper hand because he dressed as the third quarterback and ended up playing most of the last two quarters against Ottawa, while Cato has yet to see any CFL action. But Cato, considered the better passer of the two, was equally impressive in the pre- season. Either way, the Montreal offence is in deep against the Stampeders ( 1- 0), who are coming off a comeback 24- 23 win at home over Hamilton. “ All they told us is that me and Cato are both going to play and they said for us to be ready,” said Bridge, a Mississauga, Ont., native and a rare Canadian pivot in the CFL. “ It’s like a 1- 1A thing. “ I don’t know if their idea is to go with the hot hand. That would be the smartest thing to do. Whoever’s hot, you just keep rolling with him.” If Bridge starts, he will be the first Canadian to start a CFL game since B. C.’ s Giulio Caravatta in 1996, when Bridge was four years old. “ Honestly, I didn’t think about it until you guys, the media, kept bringing it up,” said Bridge, who played at South Alabama before the Alouettes picked him the fourth round of this year’s draft. “ All I want to do is start. “ I don’t think about it being the first quarterback to start in a long time. I just want to help this team win, that’s all.” The rookies at least have a veteran receiving crew to work with, including former Stampeders star Nik Lewis. “ We love challenges,” said Lewis. “ We’re going to put it on our shoulders. “ We’re going to have to make plays no matter who is throwing the ball. I’ve been on teams that won games with rookie quarterbacks, so I’m confident.” They will also try to run the ball as much as possible and running back Tyrell Sutton is ready if there is extra work. “ I’m hoping I can take some pressure off the young guys,” said Sutton. “ I know the game’s going to be flying around for them, so the biggest thing for me is to keep them calm and mellowed out.” The Stampeders’ only road loss in 2014 was in Montreal but they have a prime chance to correct that on this visit. It will be a test for quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who uncharacteristically had three passes intercepted against the Ticats. He threw only eight picks in all of last season. Crompton was placed on the sixgame injured list with a separated shoulder while LeFevour is out for the season with a dislocated and fractured shoulder. — The Canadian Press BRYNN ANDERSON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES South Alabama product Brandon Bridge could get the start for the Als tonight. Who will start for battered Als? Rookies Bridge, Cato could get trial by fire By Bill Beacon ‘ I’m very pleased that you don’t know who the starting quarterback is, but flip a coin and know that both are going to be playing’ — Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Former Blue Bombers O- line great Chris Walby took time to sign an autograph for eight- year- old Nicholas Mason at a pre- game event to celebrate the 1990 Grey Cup champs. I T isn’t hard to pick Chris Walby out of a lineup. The former Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman is a large man by anyone’s standards, the kind of size that demands respect whenever he walks into a room. Or, as was the case Thursday night, even a large open space. But it wasn’t his intimidating stature that made him pop out of a crowd of hundreds but the line of people that at one point looked to be a permanent attachment of his body. There Walby was, on the eve of the Bombers’ home opener, in the middle of a group of fans, young and old, signing autographs, posing for pictures and even embracing his admirers with open arms, hugging anyone and everyone willing to steal a rare moment with their old idol. “ I’m actually humbled that they still, for an old guy like me, an old fossil, they still line up for me,” said Walby, who dismissed his half- hour meetand- greet quota like he did opposing defensive lineman during his 16- year CFL career, sticking around well over an hour later to make sure he got everyone. “ Growing up in the North End, being a kid from Winnipeg is a huge part of it. And I love and respected the fact that we aren’t playing unless we have fans.” Walby was just one of a number of Winnipeg’s 1990 Grey Cup- winning team plunked in chairs signing autographs before the game. Like the team did for the 1988 Cup champs, the 25- year reunion for the ’ 90 champions was given special recognition during a break between the third and fourth quarter Thursday’s game. One by one, fans took turns getting everything from jerseys to footballs to even game- day programs dating back to the Bombers glory years of the mid- ’ 80s and early ’ 90s, signed. Theresa Zacharias proudly stateed she’s been a fan for every one of her 58 years. Now a third generation Blue and Gold supporter, she marvelled at the chance to meet some of the players she remembers watching, even when she was forced to move to enemy territory. “ Thirty- nine years in Saskatchewan and I stayed true blue,” she said. Asked what it meant to get the chance to meet some of her favourite players, her appreciation started to ooze. “ It’s a dream come true meeting these guys. It’s one thing to watch them on TV over the years but it’s something else to meet them in person and they’re just unbelievably nice guys.” The group included the likes of former defensive coach Dave Ritchie, offensive lineman Bob Molle, quarterback Danny McManus, running back Terry Cochrane, punter Bob Cameron and kicker Trevor Kennerd to name a few. “ The 1950s and ’ 60s are known as the glory years for the Blue Bombers but the end of the ’ 80s and early ’ 90s were something else,” said Kennerd. “ For me, it was an absolute treat and a joy and an honour just to be on that team.” But as great as it was for fans to cheer for the Bombers’ last Grey Cup victory, it also provided a stark reminder of the team’s current 25- year drought, something Kennerd used as an opportunity to remind current Bombers fans of the past. “ We know exactly what the current Blue Bomber players are feeling and thinking because in the early ’ 80s or late ’ 70s, when a lot of these guys came to Winnipeg, this team was on a 22- year Grey Cup drought,” said Kennard, before closing with a bit of hope. “ The teams over the last 25 years have been good. This 2015 Winnipeg Blue Bomber team, they have to realize they can do it, they can play in the Grey Cup game this year.” But until that happens, glory remains in the rear- view mirror. jeff. hamilton@ freepress. mb. ca twitter: @ jeffkhamilton TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Former Bomber placekicker Trevor Kennerd signs a football for 11- year- old Matt Stephens of Brandon. Danny McManus is next in line to sign. Fans celebrate ’ 90 Cup champs Beloved squad gets royal treatment at home opener By Jeff Hamilton ‘ It’s a dream come true meeting these guys. It’s one thing to watch them on TV over the years but it’s something else to meet them in person and they’re just unbelievably nice guys’ — fan Theresa Zacharias C_ 02_ Jul- 03- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C2 7/ 2/ 15 10: 28: 27 PM

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