CFL's hot and hottest to meet Stallions expected Texans' strong finish

November 09, 1995|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Stallions are the hottest team in the Canadian Football League. And when they check their rearview mirrors, they see the San Antonio Texans bearing down on them.

Baltimore (16-3), after struggling briefly at midseason, has won 11 straight games. San Antonio (13-6), after stumbling for half a season -- including back-to-back losses to the Stallions in July -- has won nine of its past 10.

Something will have to give on Sunday, when the two teams meet at Memorial Stadium to decide the Southern Division championship, with the winner advancing to the Nov. 19 Grey Cup game in Regina, Saskatchewan.

The Stallions are not surprised to see the Texans again. After beating them for the second time this season, 28-23, in San Antonio, Baltimore's players began referring to San Antonio as a major threat. The Stallions still are talking that way.

"We could tell they were a quality team and a team that was hungry, just like us," Baltimore nose tackle Jearld Baylis said. "They've got a lot of talent, and they've improved a lot."

Particularly in the past 10 games, with veteran quarterback David Archer leading the way. After shaking off a hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly four games, Archer has thrown for 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions over the Texans' 9-1 stretch. During that streak, the Texans have averaged 41.5 points.

San Antonio is coming off a 52-9 pounding of Birmingham in the first round of the playoffs. That marked the first playoff game in the history of the franchise, which moved after two seasons in Sacramento.

"But we're going to need everybody, plus one or two more people, on Sunday," said San Antonio coach Kay Stephenson, who has watched the Texans rebound from a 4-5 start. "I think we've improved quite a bit, but I don't think we're looking at a phenomenal turnaround. If we hadn't improved, it would have been a sad commentary.

"I know this ballgame, without question, is going to be something that tells us just how good we really are, because Baltimore has an unbelievable number of weapons."

The Stallions have 13 All-Star weapons, to be exact. That is how many Baltimore players were named yesterday to the 27-player All-Southern Division team.

Five members of Baltimore's offense made the team: league rushing champion Mike Pringle, slotback Chris Armstrong and offensive linemen Mike Withycombe, Neal Fort and Shar Pourdanesh.

Six members of Baltimore's defense were selected: nose tackle Jearld Baylis, rush end Elfrid Payton, linebackers O.J. Brigance and Tracy Gravely and defensive backs Irv Smith and Charles Anthony. Kick returner Chris Wright and punter Josh Miller also were named.

Pringle and offensive lineman Mark Dixon won Player of the Week awards after last week's 36-21 playoff victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Pringle, the favorite to win the league's Most Outstanding Player Award next week, rushed for two touchdowns and 211 yards, the third-highest total in CFL playoff history, and was named Offensive Player of the Week.

Dixon, a rookie guard out of Virginia, was named Lineman of the Week.

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