Pringle closing on rushing leader


September 22, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

Shar Pourdanesh, the Baltimore CFLs' vociferous left tackle, leaves no doubt.

Mike Pringle, he said, is going to lead the Canadian Football League in rushing this season.

"I figured he already has it," Pourdanesh said after yesterday's practice. "We know what he wants and we're going to do it for him.

"The man is going to get the rushing title, no ifs or buts about it."

With seven regular-season games left, Pringle trails rushing leader Cory Philpot of the British Columbia Lions by 154 yards.

But Pringle is gaining ground fast. He rushed a season-high 30 times for 173 yards in Sunday's 35-18 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The night before, Philpot had just 6 yards on seven carries in B.C.'s 25-18 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.

For the season, Philpot has rushed for 1,175 yards in 10 games, averaging 8 yards a carry. Pringle passed the 1,000-yard plateau (he has 1,021) in 11 games, although he had just one carry for 4 yards as a reserve in the season opener. He's averaging 6.1 per attempt.

In his past four games, Pringle has run for 592 yards and averaged 7.1 a carry.

He is reluctant, at best, to talk about the rushing title, though.

"It'd be nice to finish in the top spot, as long as I continue to get yards and contribute to wins on the field," he said.

"If I have to pass Philpot to help the team get to the Grey Cup, that's what my intentions are."

Wilson's guarantee

Then there is CFLs wide receiver Walter Wilson of Baltimore's Southern High. Hampered the past three weeks by a hip pointer, Wilson caught the first pass in team offense drills yesterday and quickly pronounced, "I'm back."

Informed that this week's opponent, the Ottawa Rough Riders, are minus three defensive backs because of injuries, he said, "They're going to be in trouble."

And of the fact he has two catches for 29 yards in the past three games, Wilson -- nicknamed "Franchise" -- said: "It isn't something I'm proud of. But I guarantee you, I'll bust out of it this week. I'll bust out in big fashion."

Ballard back

There figure to be only two lineup changes for Sunday's game at Ottawa. Wilson returns as a starter in place of injured wide receiver Mike Alexander (sternum), and Keith Ballard likely will move in at right guard in an offensive line shift. Center Nick Subis, nursing thigh and knee injuries, is expected to become the sixth lineman this week, with right guard John Earle moving to center.

Through 11 games, coach Don Matthews made 30 changes to the starting offensive and defensive line ups. Of those, 13 were injury related and 17 were because of performance. That doesn't include the cutting of place-kicker Donald Igwebuike or demotion of punt returner Stan Petry last week.

Matthews cut two more players this week. After sending middle linebacker Ricky Andrews home Tuesday, he released defensive tackle Brent White shortly before the team picture yesterday. White was signed last week and played against Saskatchewan.

"We evaluated him and felt he was not an improvement on what we have in the pass rush," Matthews said.

Rush end Chris Thompson will replace White on the active roster. If Alexander is unable to play this week, running back Robert Drummond will be activated.

Grey Cup change on tap?

If the Hamilton Tiger-Cats relocate after this season -- as becomes increasingly likely each week -- Baltimore will get the 1996 Grey Cup, according to CFLs owner Jim Speros.

Baltimore is scheduled to get the 1997 game after the league governors awarded the 1996 game to Hamilton to help solidify the franchise. But Hamilton drew only 11,000 for last week's game against Winnipeg in an ever-deteriorating situation.

"If the 1996 game is not in Hamilton, the Grey Cup automatically will go to me because I'm next in line," Speros said yesterday. "It's part of our agreement."

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