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Old rival Winnipeg -- back but not the same

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The last time Baltimore and Winnipeg met in a Canadian Football League game, an Eastern Division title was on the line, ++ the weather was brutally cold and windy, and the visitors from Baltimore got a memorable taste of Canadian nationalism.

Eight months later, the picture has changed drastically. The Baltimore Stallions are the class of the CFL's new, five-team Southern Division of U.S.-based teams. The Blue Bombers, trying to recover from the loss of quarterback Matt Dunigan to free agency, are stumbling in the Northern Division.

Tonight, at warm, muggy Memorial Stadium, the teams renew what turned into an interesting rivalry in 1994, when Baltimore and Winnipeg met four times, including once during the exhibition season. The Stallions won three games, the biggest a 14-10 playoff victory in which the Baltimore players endured a steady bombardment of snowballs from the stands, among other anti-American sentiments.

"I remember a lot of our coaches didn't want to stand near me," Baltimore coach Don Matthews said.

"I remember the snowballs. I got hit in the face by one of them. But I'd forgotten about it until now," Stallions running back Mike Pringle said.

"I think the pressure is going to be more on them [Blue Bombers], because we knocked them out and went to the Grey Cup. We have to be prepared not just for them, but for anybody who steps into our stadium. It's going to be an intense game."

If the Stallions (2-1) perform with a proficiency that approaches their home-and-home sweep of San Antonio, it could be a long night for the Blue Bombers (1-2).

The Stallions, on the strength of excellent field position, big plays and stinginess with the ball -- they have committed only two turnovers -- have scored 112 points, third best in the CFL. They have the league's top special teams tandem, punter Josh Miller and kicker Carlos Huerta. Their defense, full of speed and led by rush end Elfrid Payton, has allowed only five touchdowns in its past two games.

"I'm looking forward to it. They're going to try to get after us after last year. If we match their intensity, we shouldn't have a problem," said Payton, who played in Winnipeg from 1991-93. "It's been difficult for them to move the ball. But they have a veteran offensive line, and they can't do anything but get better. That's why I'm glad we've got them this week."

If the Blue Bombers intend to have any chance, they must break a bad habit. In three games, Winnipeg has committed 15 turnovers.

The worst offender has been quarterback Sam Garza, who replaced Dunigan, now with Birmingham. Garza has been intercepted eight times, has lost three fumbles and has failed to throw a touchdown pass to a receiver. If he falters tonight, he will likely be replaced by Reggie Slack, recently acquired from Birmingham.

Injuries, youth on defense and an unsettled running game also have hurt Winnipeg.

The Blue Bombers will miss slotback Gerald Wilcox, who is out with a nerve problem in his hip. Wilcox, who led all Canadian receivers with 111 receptions last year, has caught three passes 1995. Three different running backs have started each game. The Blue Bombers hope running back Mike Oliphant, who had 171 all-purpose yards in last week's 37-29 victory over Shreveport, gives them some stability in the backfield tonight.

Winnipeg's defense has played admirably, given the time it has spent on the field because of turnovers. But its secondary, featuring rookie halfback Darrius Watson and rookie cornerbacks Shannon Garrett and Jason Mallett -- he returned two fumbles for touchdowns last week -- will be tested by Baltimore quarterback Tracy Ham and receivers like Chris Armstrong and Robert Clark.

Besides feeding off the rivalry that exists with the Blue Bombers, Baltimore is relishing a rare home game. The Stallions embark on a three-game, nine-day road trip next week and won't play at home again for three weeks.

"We feel like Winnipeg is going to come in and play hard," Matthews said. "Our players are rested and healthy, and we expect them to play an excellent game."

Winnipeg vs. Stallions

Site: Memorial Stadium

When: 7:30 tonight

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM), WGRX (100.7 FM)

BLUE BOMBERS-STALLIONS TONIGHT

Site, time: Memorial Stadium, 7:30

TV/Radio: None/WJFK (1300 AM), WGRX (100.7 FM)

Line: Stallions by 15 1/2

Records: Stallions 2-1; Winnipeg 1-2

Last week: The Stallions beat San Antonio, 28-23; Winnipeg beat Shreveport, 37-29.

On the sidelines: The Stallions' Don Matthews has a career record of 112-67-1 in 11 CFL seasons. Winnipeg's Cal Murphy is 72-34-1 in eight CFL seasons.

What the Stallions need to do to win: Keep taking excellent care of the ball. Baltimore has not committed a turnover in eight quarters, and only a rash of miscues will deny them a victory.

What Winnipeg needs to do to win: Blue Bombers QB Sam Garza, who has been intercepted eight times in three games, must make better decisions in the face of Baltimore's defensive pressure.

Injuries: Stallions -- CB Karl Anthony (knee) and C Nick Subis (ribs) are out; LB Alvin Walton (neck) is doubtful. Winnipeg -- DB Juran Bolden (leg), DB Lawrence Hatch (shoulder), WR Tim Daniel (finger), SB Gerald Wilcox (hip), SB Sean Graham (finger), DT Leonard Johnson (shoulder) are out.

Outlook: This game should not be close. Winnipeg, which struggled to get by Shreveport, the worst team in the Southern Division, is banged up at receiver and inexperienced in the defensive secondary. The Blue Bombers have managed 62 points in three games. With the Stallions' speed on defense, Winnipeg will have a difficult time sustaining drives. The Stallions, who won't play again at Memorial Stadium for three weeks, have too many healthy weapons for the Blue Bombers to handle.

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Winnipeg roster

Coach: Cal Murphy

No. Player ... ... ... P ... ... Ht. ... ... Wt.

1 Jamie Holland .. ... WR .. ... 6-1 ... ... 207

5 Juran Bolden ... ... DB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 197

6 Bob Cameron .. .. .. P ... ... 6-0 ... ... 190

7 Ryan Carey ... .. .. DB .. ... 5-10 .. ... 191

12 Terry Dean .. .. .. QB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 219

15 Sammy Garza ... ... QB .. ... 6-1 ... ... 195

16 Steve Pelluer .. .. QB .. ... 6-4 ... ... 205

17 Allan Boyko ... ... SB .. ... 6-0 ... ... 175

19 Mike Oliphant .. .. RB ... .. 5-9 ... ... 180

20 Jason Mallett .. .. DB ... .. 5-11 ... .. 180

22 Ken Burress ... ... DB ... .. 5-11 ... .. 180

23 Shannon Garrett ... DB ... .. 5-11 ... .. 181

25 Chris Johnstone ... FB ... .. 6-3 ... ... 226

26 Darrius Watson ... DB ... ... 6-0 ... ... 190

30 Darry Sampson .. .. DB .. ... 6-0 ... ... 180

32 Matt Pearce ... ... FB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 205

35 Brandon Rogers ... LB ... ... 6-1 ... ... 246

36 Paul Randolph .. .. LB .. ... 6-1 ... ... 225

38 Doug Hocking ... .. LB .. ... 6-1 ... ... 224

39 Alan Wetmore ... .. FB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 223

43 Kevin Robson ... .. C ... ... 6-4 ... ... 283

48 Charlie Clemons ... LB .. ... 6-1 ... ... 248

51 David Black ... ... G ... ... 6-3 ... ... 292

53 Ed Kucy ... ... ... G ... ... 6-6 ... ... 305

56 Del Lyles .. .. ... LB .. ... 6-1 ... ... 225

57 Brett MacNeil .. .. G ... ... 6-4 ... ... 290

58 Greg Clark .. .. .. LB .. ... 6-0 ... ... 229

60 Dave Vankoughnett .. C .. ... 6-4 ... ... 279

63 Chris Walby ... ... OT ... .. 6-7 ... ... 331

66 Miles Gorrell .. .. OT ... .. 6-8 ... ... 325

72 Colin Scrivener ... NT ... .. 6-5 ... ... 270

74 Troy Westwood .. .. K ... ... 5-10 .. ... 170

77 Stan Mikawos ... .. NT .. ... 6-4 ... ... 270

83 Marcus Dowdell ... WR ... ... 5-11 .. ... 195

86 Gerald Alphin .. .. SB .. ... 6-3 ... ... 225

90 Keilly Rush ... ... DE .. ... 6-7 ... ... 255

94 Tony Hill .. .. ... DE .. ... 6-6 ... ... 252

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Stallions roster

Coach: Don Matthews

No. Player ... ... ... P ... ... Ht. ... ... Wt.

1 Shannon Culver .. .. WR .. ... 5-10 .. ... 160

2 Robert Drummond ... RB ... ... 6-3 ... ... 215

4 Alvin Walton ... ... LB .. ... 6-0 ... ... 220

5 Mike Alexander .. .. SB .. ... 6-3 ... ... 205

6 Carlos Heurta ... .. K ... ... 5-7 ... ... 185

7 Tracey Gravely .. .. LB .. ... 6-3 ... ... 215

8 Tracy Ham ... ... .. QB .. ... 5-11 .. ... 200

9 Charles Anthony ... HB ... ... 6-2 ... ... 195

10 Shawn Jones ... ... QB .. ... 6-1 ... ... 200

13 Dan Crowley ... ... QB .. ... 6-1 ... ... 185

16 Reggie Perry .. ... FB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 205

17 Gary Wilkerson ... DB ... ... 6-1 ... ... 180

21 Irvin Smith ... ... CB .. ... 5-10 .. ... 185

22 Josh Miller ... ... P ... ... 6-3 ... ... 215

25 Courtney Griffin .. HB .. ... 5-10 .. ... 180

27 Mike Pringle ... .. RB .. ... 5-9 ... ... 195

28 Chris Wright ... .. RB .. ... 5-8 ... ... 175

31 Maurice Gravely ... LB .. ... 6-4 ... ... 210

32 Peter Tuipulotu ... FB .. ... 5-11 .. ... 215

33 Ken Watson .. .. .. HB ... .. 6-2 ... ... 200

36 Lester Smith ... .. DB .. ... 5-11 .. ... 180

39 Matt Goodwin ... .. LB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 205

51 Nick Subis .. .. .. C ... ... 6-5 ... ... 285

55 Malcolm Goodwin ... DE .. ... 6-2 ... ... 225

56 Elfrid Payton .. .. RE .. ... 6-1 ... ... 230

57 O.J. Brigance .. .. LB .. ... 6-0 ... ... 220

61 John James .. .. .. OL .. ... 6-3 ... ... 300

63 John Earle .. .. .. OL .. ... 6-5 ... ... 300

65 Mike Withycombe ... OL .. ... 6-5 ... ... 300

66 Neal Fort ... .. .. OT .. ... 6-7 ... ... 330

68 Shar Pourdanesh ... OT .. ... 6-6 ... ... 290

69 Robert Davis ... .. OL .. ... 6-3 ... ... 285

72 Robert Presbury ... DT .. ... 6-2 ... ... 265

81 Chris Armstrong ... SB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 210

86 Robert Clark .. ... WR .. ... 5-10 .. ... 180

93 Greg Tucker ... ... LB .. ... 6-2 ... ... 240

98 Jearld Baylis .. .. NT .. ... 6-0 ... ... 280

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