CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders don’t need any extra incentive to prepare for their West Division final against the Roughriders in Saskatchewan next Sunday.
“Winner goes to the Grey Cup, that’s motivation enough,” said Calgary coach and GM John Hufnagel a day after his squad beat the Edmonton Eskimos 24-21 in the West semifinal.
After the players enjoy two days to recuperate from Sunday’s tough challenge against the Eskimos, they’ll return to McMahon Stadium on Wednesday to prepare for the Riders.
“The players want to earn the right to play in the Grey Cup,” Hufnagel said. “They have the opportunity to do that on Sunday. It’s going to take a good hard week of practice and then great execution for three hours on Sunday.”
Having gone 0-2-1 against Saskatchewan in the regular season, the Stamps will face a confident and rested group of Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium in the West final (TSN, 2:30 p.m.).
“We know we’re going in playing the regular-season West Division champion and rightfully so, they deserved it,” Calgary quarterback Henry Burris said after completing 19 of 32 pass attempts for 264 yards and two touchdown against Edmonton. “They’ve got a defence that flies around so we’re looking forward to going back and getting this opportunity.”
As a former Rider, Burris fully expects the crowd at Mosaic Stadium to make it as loud as possible when the Stampeders have the ball.
“We know it will be tough going against their 13th man,” he said.
Although Saskatchewan beat Calgary 30-14 in Regina on the final weekend of the CFL regular-season, earning a bye directly into the final, Hufnagel said his players have learned ways to deal with the hostile situation.
“It’s a very loud crowd,” Hufnagel said. “We have to be very good with our poise in the noise. One thing I was pleased about in the last game against Saskatchewan was that I thought we did handle the noise situation very well. We didn’t have a lot of procedure calls. It didn’t affect our communication offensively or defensively. We just need to make more plays.”
After catching his first touchdown pass in a Stampeder uniform in the win over the Eskimos, receiver Arjei Franklin said he and his teammates have fully turned their attention towards earning redemption against the Riders.
“If we look past them, we will pay for that,” Franklin said. “All we’re thinking of right now is Saskatchewan and whatever happens after that, happens.”
Franklin referred to Mosaic Stadium as “a fun place to play.”
“It’s an us-against-the-world type of environment,” he added. “After a good week of practice, we’re excited to get back there and play the type of football we’re capable of playing.”
The Stamps might be without the services of centre Rob Lazeo, who went down with a knee injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against Edmonton.
“He has an ankle problem and a knee problem,” Hufnagel said, referring to the ailments as day-to-day. “We’ll have a better idea on Wednesday, but it’s not looking good.”
Meanwhile, Calgary fullback Teyo Johnson is on his way to making a speedy recovery. Johnson missed the West semifinal after being stabbed in the back during a much-publicized incident at a rave concert in the early morning hours on Friday.
“Right now he’s questionable, but I’m very optimistic that he’ll be in the lineup,” Hufnagel said.