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It never gets old says defensive back Winston Rose headed to

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It never gets old, says defensive back Winston Rose, headed to 3rd West Division final with Bombers CBC News Loaded

It never gets old, says defensive back Winston Rose, headed to 3rd West Division final with Bombers

Winston Rose and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are in their third straight West Division final. The two-time defending Grey Cup champions host the B.C. Lions on Sunday at IG Field.

Winnipegs top-ranked defence set to battle British Columbias top-ranked offence

Posted: Nov 11, 2022 2:40 PM CT Last Updated: November 11

Winnipeg Blue Bombers cornerback Winston Rose celebrates a win over the B.C. Lions in CFL action last season. Rose and the Bombers host the Lions in Sundays West Division final, with a berth in the Grey Cup at stake.(John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Hes a native Californian, but Winston Rose has warmed up to the idea of playing football in Canada in November.

Rose and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are in their third straight West Division final. The two-time defending Grey Cup champions host the B.C. Lions on Sunday at IG Field.

No, it never gets old, Rose, a defensive back, said with a chuckle during a recent telephone interview. In training camp you prepare for the season, then during the season you prepare for the playoffs and in each playoff game, you prepare for the championship game.

Its one of those things thats been embedded in my head to where I dont take it for granted. I try to max out every day so I can give our team that advantage for the next one.

The Bombers finished atop the West Division, with a CFL-best 15-3 record. They were the leagues top home team (8-1) and 10-1 versus conference competition.

The lone intra-division loss was to B.C., but Winnipeg still won the regular-season series 2-1. The Bombers dominance is reflected in quarterback Zach Collaros (outstanding player), receiver Dalton Schoen (rookie), tackle Stanley Bryant (lineman) and head coach Mike OShea (coach of the year) all being West finalists for top CFL individual honours.

But Winnipegs defence was the CFLs best in fewest offensive points allowed (19.2 per game), offensive touchdowns (27), net offence (327.3 yards per game), fewest passing TDs (19) and tied with B.C. for fewest passing yards (253.6).

Rose, 28, of Inglewood, Calif., posted a career-high 66 tackles in 17 games this season, his fifth in the CFL and third with Winnipeg. The six-foot, 174-pound defensive back also had three interceptions and a forced fumble.

Winston is a two-time Grey Cup champion going for his third, said Kenny Kim of Summit Athletes, Roses Florida-based agent. Hes a very astute professional, hes a leader and just lives and breathes football.

But hes also a very happy-go-lucky individual and great person.

Winnipegs regular-season success came despite having a bulls-eye on its back each game. But Rose, a 2019 CFL all-star, credits Bombers coaches starting with OShea with keeping the squad on an even keel.

Coach OShea has programmed us in a way where we just take things one game at a time, Rose said. Every week, our goal is to go 1-0 and I can say thats something that has helped us stay grounded.

And we definitely didnt bring past achievements into this year.

B.C. should provide Winnipeg with a stiff test. Its offence anchored by quarterback Nathan Rourke led the CFL in offensive scoring (28.3 points), net offence (384.6 yards per game), passing (300.3 yards), rushing scores (23) and was second in offensive TDs (56, two behind the league-leading Bombers).

Blue Bombers players credit head coach Mike OShea with instilling caring culture that puts family first

Rourke leads Lions past Stampeders, into West Division final

Rourke, 24, of Victoria, staked B.C. to an 8-1 record before sustaining a foot injury Aug. 19 that required surgery. He returned for the Lions regular-season finale, a 24-9 road loss to Winnipeg, completing seven-of-11 passes for 68 yards.

Last week, Rourke finished 22-of-30 passing for 321 yards with two TDs asB.C. downed Calgary 30-16 in the West Division semifinal. James Butler, the CFLs second-leading rusher with 1,060 yards in the regular season, ran for 95 yards versus the Stampeders while the Lions receiving corps features 1,000-yard performers Dominique Rhymes, Lucky Whitehead and Keon Hatcher, as well as all-star Bryan Burnham.

WATCH Bombers beat Lions 24-9 in Oct. 28 match:

Blue Bombers finish regular season with victory over Lions

Winnipeg beats B.C. 24-9 and sets a franchise record with their 15th win of season in a battle of two playoff-bounds team.

I definitely see a high-powered offence, Rose said. I give credit to Nathan, he came in this year and turned many heads and created a lot of expectations that people didnt think would come so early.

And when you look at B.C.s whole team offence, defence and special teams theyve been lights out this year.

Rose believes the key for Winnipeg will be to just play its game.

Execute the calls the coaches make, run to the ball, be physical, stay locked in and let the game play itself out, he said. In the CFL, each play can be a difference-maker and any time momentum shifts for the other team, then the ball gets rolling for them.

We definitely dont want the ball to get rolling for B.C. so weve got to play our game and be sound. But you need all three phases to help you win. You need special teams to put your in good field position, you need the offence to score and you need the defence to get the ball back for the offence.

Ultimately, if all three phases click, then we should be in good shape.

Brady Oliveira, right, celebrates with fellow Bombers running back Greg McCrae after catching a touchdown during the second quarter of their teams 48-11 home win over the Edmonton Elks on Oct. 8 at IG Field.(John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Rose said playing at IG Field is an advantage for the Bombers. Theyre 15-1 there the last two years, excluding last years West Division final win over Saskatchewan.

Not only must B.C. contend with over 30,000 rabid Bombers fans, Sundays forecast calls for -5 C temperatures  feeling like -9C with overcast conditions.

Playing at IG Field is special, Rose said. Playing in front of [Bombers fans] gives us so much energy.

When we won the Grey Cup in 2019 [Winnipegs first since 1990], I didnt realize just how big and impactful it was for the city. Now, not only am I playing for myself and my brothers, its also for the city.

The game definitely, definitely gives me energy, that advantage, that edge you search for and need, he said. Im glad we have home-field advantage.

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