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Team-by-team capsules CFL PREVIEW

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Northern Division

B. C. LIONS

1994 record: 11-6-1

Stadium: BC Place Stadium

Capacity: 59,478

Championships: 1964, 1985, 1994

Head coach: Dave Ritchie

Top players: QB Danny McManus, RB Cory Philpot, WR Mike Trevathan, DE Glenn Scrivener, LB Henry Newby, CB Charles Gordon.

Outlook: The defending CFL champs lost nine starters from the Grey Cup squad, including CBs Barry Wilburn and James Jefferson to the Philadelphia Eagles, FB Sean Millington to the San Francisco 49ers, and LB Angelo Snipes to Birmingham. Both OT Rob Smith and CB Less Browne retired. CFL All-Star Gordon, who had eight interceptions last year, will have to fill void at corner. McManus has had an excellent training camp and will have to lead the team after QB Kent Austin was dealt to Toronto.

CALGARY STAMPEDERS

1994 record: 15-3

Home field: McMahon Stadium

Capacity: 37,317

Championships: 1948, 1971, 1992

Head coach: Wally Buono

Top players: QB Doug Flutie, SB Allen Pitts, DL Will Johnson, SB David Sapunjis, OL Rocco Romano.

Outlook: Flutie and Pitts will carry the Stampeders once again. Flutie, the league's MVP for four consecutive years, led the CFL last year with 5,726 yards and a CFL record 48 touchdowns with a 118.2 efficiency rating. Flutie's No. 1 option is Pitts, who had a record-breaking season with 126 receptions and 21 touchdowns for 2,036 yards. Defensively, Johnson led the CFL with 17 sacks last year and has been a Western Division All-Star for four straight years. WR Terry Vaughn and DB Al Jordan are newcomers expected to have an impact.

EDMONTON ESKIMOS

1994 record: 13-5

Home field: Commonwealth Stadium

Capacity: 60,081

Championships: 1954-56, 1975, 1978-82, 1987, 1993

Head coach: Ron Lancaster

Top players: QB Kerwin Bell, WR Henry "Gizmo" Williams, MLB Willie Pless.

Outlook: Edmonton was second best in the West last year, but the Eskimos lost mobile QB Damon Allen and deep threat WR Eddie Brown to Memphis. The Eskimos excel at special teams, and Williams, besides being a standout receiver, is the CFL's career leader in punt return touchdowns and yards. Pless, the CFL career leader in tackles, will have to spend more time on the field without Allen and Williams leading the offensive drives, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for defensively sound Edmonton.

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS

1994 record: 4-14

Home field: Ivor Wynne Stadium

Capacity: 32,000

Championships: 1912 (as Alerts), 1913, 1915, 1928-29, 1932 (as Tigers), 1943 (as Flying Wildcats), 1953, 1957, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1972, 1986

Head coach: Don Sutherin

Top players: WR Earl Winfield, RB Kalin Hall, MLB Michael O'Shea.

Outlook: Things are not bright in Hamilton. Expect yet another rebuilding year. The team has yet to determine its No. 1 quarterback. Hall, a second-year man who played three games with Las Vegas last year before tearing a ligament in his knee, is expected to be a workhorse in the second half of the season -- if he has recovered from the injury. The Tiger-Cats are stingy on defense, but it will tough for Hamilton to get to the postseason.

OTTAWA ROUGH RIDERS

1994 record: 4-14

Home field: Frank Clair Stadium

Capacity: 30,927

Championships: 1925-26 (as Senators), 1940, 1951, 1960, 1968-69, 1973, 1976

Head coach: Jim Gilstrap

Top players: QB Danny Barrett, WR Ray Alexander, RB Michael Richardson, DT John Kropke.

Outlook: Ottawa has posted consecutive 4-14 seasons, its defense yielded more than 30 points per game last year, its offensive line is a recognized weakness and Gilstrap is in his first year as head coach of the Rough Riders. Adam Rita, Gilstrap's predecessor, lasted only one year. Ottawa brought in 33 new players this year, but many of them have little CFL experience.

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

1994 record: 11-7

Home field: Taylor Field

Capacity: 27,637 (54,000 for Grey Cup)

Championships: 1966, 1989

Head coach: Ray Jauch

Top players: QB Tom Burgess, SB Ray Elgaard, WR Donald Narcisse, DE Bobby Jurasin.

Outlook: The hosts of the 1995 Grey Cup could do what BC did last year: win the championship in their own back yard. Burgess is the CFL's fourth all-time leading passer, Narcisse has caught passes in 126 consecutive games entering this season and Elgaard is a threat as a wide out, or catching passes out of the backfield. The Roughrider defense plays similar to Baltimore's attacking style, with Jurasin leading the pass rush a la Baltimore's O.J. Brigance.

TORONTO ARGONAUTS

1994 record: 7-11

Home field: SkyDome

Capacity: 52,595

Championships: 1914, 1921, 1933, 1937-38, 1945-47, 1950, 1952, 1991

Head coach: Mike Faragalli

Top players: QB Kent Austin, RB Mike "Pinball" Clemons, WR Paul Masotti, MLB Calvin Tiggle.

Outlook: The team that went from 3-15 in 1993, to 7-11 last season, could keep improving. Austin, one of only three men in CFL history to pass for more than 6,000 yards in a season, arrived from the BC Lions with plenty of targets to throw to. Three of Toronto's four widereceivers had 1,000-yard seasons in '94. If the defense can keep them in games, the Argos have a shot at a playoff spot in the tough Northern Division.

WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

1994 record: 13-5

Home field: Winnipeg Stadium

Capacity: 33,675

Championships: 1935 (as Winnipegs), 1939, 1941, 1958-59, 1961-62, 1984, 1988, 1990

Head coach: Cal Murphy

Top players: SB Gerald Alphin, RB Gerald Wilcox, OT Chris Walby, LB Greg Clark.

Outlook: Wilcox, last year's top Canadian player award winner with 111 receptions for 1,624 yards, will combine with Alphin to form a dangerous receiving corps for QB Sam Garza. Alphin had 18 touchdown receptions for 994 yards last year. This is Garza's seventh year with the Bombers and first as a starter. The Bombers will have nine new starters, including former New York Jets WR Rob Carpenter and former Atlanta Falcon and 1989 NFL offensive rookie of the year WR Shawn Collins. The loss of RB Blaise Bryant, who gained 1,289 yards and was third in the league in rushing, to free agency will hurt. Former Green Bay RB Keith Woodside will replace him.

Southern Division

BALTIMORE

1994 record: 12-6

Home field: Memorial Stadium

Capacity: 54,600

Championships: None

Head coach: Don Matthews

Top players: CB Karl Anthony, SB Chris Armstrong, NT Jearld Baylis, LB O.J. Brigance, OT Shar Pourdanesh, RB Mike Pringle, QB Tracy Ham, RE Elfrid Payton.

Outlook: Baltimore nearly won the Grey Cup in its expansion season, and the team returns 20 of its 24 starters. That left Matthews to do some fine tuning, which he has done by adding such promising newcomers as RE Jock Jones, G Mike Withycombe, WR Shannon Culver and K Carlos Huerta. The defense has lots of speed, and it allowed only four points in two easy exhibition victories. Culver gives a dangerous offense even more game-breaking ability. Injuries appear to be only thing that could keep this team from returning to the Grey Cup.

BIRMINGHAM BARRACUDAS

1994 record: None

Stadium: Legion Field

Capacity: 75,017

Championships: None

Head coach: Jack Pardee

Top players: QB Matt Dunigan, LB Angelo Snipes, WR Derrick Crawford, LB John Motton, DB Anthony Drawhorn, RB Willie McClendon.

Outlook: Thirteen-year veteran Dunigan is the CFL's top active passer and third all-time with 37,221 yards total yards. Dunigan will lead the run-and-shoot offense. Former University of Houston head coach John Jenkins will be offensive coordinator for the expansion team. Pardee now is the first person to coach in the World Football League, United States Football League, NFL and CFL. Roster includes six former CFL all-stars.

MEMPHIS MAD DOGS

1994 record: None

Home field: Liberty Bowl

Capacity: 63,068

Championships: None

Head coach: Pepper Rodgers

Top players: QB Damon Allen, TB Gary Anderson, DE Tim Cofield, LB Greg Battle, DB Don Odegard.

Outlook: Eleven-year veteran Allen is their marquee player. Expansion team with a lot of veteran players will need time to jell. Free agency has brought them 19 CFL veterans. Former NFL players such as 1987 All-Pro Anderson (Tampa Bay and San Diego), '87 All-Rookie DE Alex Gordon (Kansas City and recently Cincinnati), OG Tracy Boyd (Minnesota), former NFL strong man winner Cofield (Kansas City), and FB Bruce Perkins (Minnesota and Tampa Bay) will help the Mad Dogs.

SAN ANTONIO TEXANS

1994 record: 9-8-1 (as Sacramento Gold Miners)

Home field: The Alamodome

Capacity: 59,000

Championships: None

Head coach: Kay Stephenson

Top players: QB David Archer, RB Mike Saunders, WR Mark Stock, WR David Gamble, LB Hurlie Brown, C Mike Kiselak (Maryland).

Outlook: This team is thinking playoffs in its first year in Texas after moving from Sacramento. One of the few American teams that can challenge Baltimore, San Antonio has plenty of experience, with 24 veterans on the roster. Archer threw for 6,000 yards in 1993, but San Antonio would like to churn up the yards behind their big offensive line by handing off to Saunders, who was second in rushing to Baltimore's Mike Pringle in 1994. The defense is strong as well, with nine of 12 starters returning from last year's squad.

SHREVEPORT PIRATES

1994 record: 3-15

Stadium: Independence Stadium

Capacity: 40,000

Championships: None

Head coach: Forrest Gregg

Top players: QB Billy Joe Tolliver, SB Rod Harris, DT Ben Williams, DB Joe Fuller, DT Reggie Rogers, WR Curtis Mayfield.

Outlook: After six years in the NFL, former San Diego and Atlanta QB Tolliver has jumped to the CFL. The Pirates also signed Harris from San Antonio, where he led the league last year in punt return yards and was fourth in the league in receiving. Nine-year CFL veteran DL/LB Gregg Stumon returns after leading the Pirates with 63 tackles and five sacks.Compiled by Jason LaCanfora and Ohm Youngmisuk

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