A horrible 1-7 start to the season is history for the B.C. Lions.

It’s the future they are focused on now.

A team that flirted with disaster midway through the season is headed to the CFL West semifinal against the Saskatchewan Roughriders next weekend at Mosaic Stadium.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux said the Lions, who ended the regular season with three consecutive wins in can’t-lose games, are like a rumbling freight train.

“I have a sense momentum is building,” said the soft-spoken Arceneaux, one of a handful of players at the Lions practice facility yesterday. “This B.C. team is dangerous right now. If we just keep focused and finish and execute, there is a lot that can be done.

“We have put those first six or seven games behind us, like they never existed.”

The Lions (8-10) will have little time to savour finishing third in the West and making the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season. The players have today off, then it’s back to practice tomorrow.

“What you do is deflate,” said a weary looking Wally Buono, the Lions coach and general manager. “You need to get through your emotions of the last 10, 11 weeks.

“Then you need to regroup. Now is a whole new season for everybody. This football team is battle-ready. It’s won a lot of big games on the road against some very good teams. It should be ready for what’s ahead.”

Saturday was a long, tense day for the Lions.

It began with B.C. battling from behind to defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23-21 at Ivor Wynne Stadium. The Lions then had to wait for the Roughriders (10-8) to do them a favour and beat the Edmonton Eskimos 31-23 in Regina.

The loss dropped the Eskimos to 7-11 and out of the playoffs.

Many of the Lions players and coaching staff watched the Saskatchewan game in a restaurant-bar at the Toronto airport before flying home.

Buono opted for dinner away from any television sets.

“It’s too nerve wrecking,” he said with a chuckle. “Coaching one game a day is plenty.

“I saw the last minute. That was enough for me.”

The Riders thumped B.C. twice early in the season by a combined score of 74-31. An improved Lions team beat Saskatchewan 23-17 Oct. 31 in Vancouver.

Buono said the Lions have risen to Saskatchewan’s level.

“The first two games were totally different,” he said. “They were a very polished team. They were a good football team.

“Now, when you go into the playoffs, the field is even.”