To celebrate Grey Cup Unite week, in between all the events that the league and teams have prepared for our great fans, the Lions also want to trace back to our six memorable Grey Cup victories throughout the years.
Without leaving anything out, the 5 Things To Know will be looking back into these championship seasons, breaking down into several categories from coaches to records as a tribute to those Lions who brought home the cup.
The Head Coaches
The club’s six Grey Cup championships have been won by five head coaches. All of them boosted their already-impressive resumes by winning it all with the BC Lions:
Dave Skrien: He spent two seasons in the league as a player for the Roughriders and Blue Bombers before becoming B.C.’s backfield coach in 1959. Skrien eventually took over the head coaching role after a rough 0-6-1 start in the 1961 season. Three years later, he led the team to its very first Grey Cup win over Hamilton in 1964.
Don Matthews: Matthews became the head coach in 1983 following five straight titles with Edmonton as defensive coordinator. ‘The Don’ immediately led the team to the 71st Grey Cup final which ended in a disappointing 18-17 loss against the Argos. However, it didn’t stop the team from achieving their Grey Cup dream. Matthews and the 1985 Lions ended a 21- season Grey Cup drought with a 37-24 win over Hamilton, while also finishing first in the West Division four out times from 1983 to 1987.
Dave Ritchie: The 2001 CFL Coach of the Year began his head coaching gig with the Lions in 1993. While losing the division semi-final in ‘93, Ritchie would help the team bounce back the next season, beating the Baltimore Stallions to capture the club’s third Grey Cup title in 1994 to cap off an amazing playoff run that began with road upsets in Edmonton and Calgary.
Steve Buratto: Following the departure of Greg Mohns in the middle of the 2000 season, the team stood at 3-4 when Buratto stepped in as an interim head coach and concluded the regular season at 8-10. Sitting in third place of the division, the team would once again knock off both of their rivals from Alberta before taking down Montreal to win the 88th Grey Cup.
Wally Buono: In total, Wally would win five Grey Cups as a head coach, and is the only man to win two while in charge of the Lions. Buono still holds the record for the most regular season wins in CFL history. When he was with the club, the Lions led the division five times, including three final appearances where we went all the way in 2006 and 2011.
The Grey Cup MVPs
Although most valuable player of Grey Cup wasn’t awarded in ’64, some crucial scores came from Bob Swift, Willie Fleming and Bill Munsey. The Lions successfully downed the Tiger-Cats after losing to them in the prior season. The Lions were up 34-8 heading into the final stretch of the game, and Hamilton’s fourth quarter comeback effort wasn’t enough to top the Lions. The final score was 34-24 for B.C.
In 1985, Roy Dewalt was named the offensive MVP and James “Quick” Parker was the defensive MVP of the 73rd Grey Cup. Dewalt connected to Ned Armour twice in the first half that gave the Lions an edge for the remainder of the game. Parker, who recorded 26.5 sacks in ’84 also added pressure on opposing Tiger-Cats’ defence, forcing a fumble that led to a Lui Passaglia 24-yard field goal.
Most people knew what went down at the end of the 1994 Grey Cup. Baltimore Stallions’ Karl Anthony was named the MVP because of the 46-yard lateral return off Alvin Walton’s interception in the second quarter. The votes had already determined Anthony as the MVP until Passaglia sealed the deal with a 38-yard field goal with no time on the clock. Lui was later named the Most Valuable Canadian for the ‘94 Grey Cup.
The 88th Grey Cup’s MVP was Robert Drummond. Thanks to the push from the offensive line, the Lions ran for 260 total yards against the Alouettes. Drummond had 10 carries for 122 yards and Sean Millington had 17 carries for 99 yards. Damon Allen also rushed for 39 yards.
The Lions squared off against Montreal again in 2006. Dave Dickenson, 94th Grey Cup’s MVP, managed to drive the ball down the field throughout the game, which led to six Paul McCallum’s field goals. Those crucial kicks would end up being the deciding factor for the game. Plus, the defence pulled through in the fourth quarter when they managed to stop the Alouettes on their goal line.
Travis Lulay and the Lions capped off a remarkable turnaround season after starting 0-5. In the 99th Grey Cup right home in their backyard, the Lions outplayed the Blue Bombers and won 34-23 to capture the club’s sixth title. Lulay finished the game with 320 passing yards for two touchdowns.
While Dewalt, Dickenson and Lulay were selected as MVPs in their own Grey Cup wins, let’s not forget about Joe Kapp, who played for the Lions from 1961-1966 before entering the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. Kapp is the only player to appear in the Rose Bowl, Grey Cup and the Superbowl.
In 1994, Kent Austin took the majority of the snaps under centre. He threw for 4,193 yards with 24 touchdowns that season. But heading into the Grey Cup final, Austin was battling through a shoulder injury. He was picked off three times in the first half, that’s when Danny McManus stepped in and took care of business. The Lions outscored the Stallions in the second half (16-6), which led to a dramatic finish.
Damon Allen led the Lions offence with a total of 26 first downs in comparison to Montreal’s 21 during the 2000 Grey Cup. To put pressure on a stacked team like Montreal, the Lions dominated the run game and Allen was able to cash-in two rushing scores that day. He also went 18 for 31 in the air and threw for 234 yards.
Lions Grey Cup Records
Roy Dewalt appeared in two Grey Cups in Lions uniform in 1983 and 1985. He is still the club’s all-time leading passer in Grey Cup games with 719 yards. Despite losing to the Argos in ‘83, Dewalt still threw two touchdowns to Mervyn Fernandez and John Henry White. Roy would return to the big stage two seasons later and passed for 394 yards in the ‘85s Grey Cup. It’s still the most yardage by a Lions quarterback in a single Grey Cup game, ranking him number seventh in league history.
Former Lions fullback Sean Millington also played in two Grey Cups. He currently holds the rushing record for the most yards in Lions Grey Cup history. The total 184 rushing yards came from 1994 and 2000’s Grey Cup, where he rushed for 85 yards in the first appearance and 99 yards the second time.
Lui Passaglia is the club’s all-time leading points scorer in the Grey Cup. Those 55 points were collected through five appearances, making Passaglia fourth- best of all-time in league history. His five field goals in the 1985 win contributed greatly, while we all remember the dramatic kick in 1994. And he would retire in style by kicking two field goals, including the eventual winning points with just over a minute to play in the 2000 victory against Montreal.
Paul McCallum’s six field goals kept the Lions in front throughout the 2006 Grey Cup. McCallum scored the majority of the points except for running back Ian Smart’s 25-yard touchdown. His efforts also tied Edmonton’s Sean Fleming in Grey Cup history for the most field goals on one game.