CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders have extra motivation to win their home opener against the B.C. Lions on Friday night.
Not only do the Stamps want to start the 2013 CFL season with a strong showing, they also want to win for their fans who have been affected by the devastating floods in southern Alberta.
“I’m ready to go out there and just give the stadium and the community something to be cheerful and happy about due to the flooding and everything with what’s been going on,” said Calgary kick returner/receiver Larry Taylor. “A lot of families are dealing with a lot of emotional things, being evacuated out of their places.
“Hopefully we can come out here and put on a good performance on Friday night and give the fans something to take their minds away from what they’re dealing with personally.”
Representatives from the Canadian Red Cross will be on hand at McMahon Stadium on Friday night to collect donations for the flood relief effort.
“It has been an extremely difficult week for the city of Calgary and our hearts truly go out to all the people who have been displaced and affected by the flood,” said Calgary coach and general manager John Hufnagel. “This is an incredibly challenging time for so many Calgarians. This football team is looking forward to providing a little boost to our city for a few hours Friday night at McMahon Stadium.
“I know the Stampeder fans are very avid fans that have been waiting for this all off-season.”
B.C. coach Mike Benevides offered up his condolences to those who were affected by the flooding.
“I obviously want to let everybody in Calgary know that we’re certainly thinking about them and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” Benevides said. “My hope is (Friday) night we give them three hours of distraction and an exciting game.”
Running back Jon Cornish said that he expects the atmosphere at McMahon to be extremely emotional leading up to the opening kickoff.
“What happened here in Calgary has hurt so many people’s lives a killed people,” Cornish said. “If there’s one thing we can do tomorrow to help this city, it’s win.”
Cornish added that it won’t be an easy task for Calgary against a tough B.C. defence, but that the Stampeders are up for the challenge.
“They have a huge amount of experience back there and their defensive line is quite impressive,” Cornish said. “It’s always really fun for me to play against them because it’s a great opportunity to see where we are and how well we can deal with the best.”
Via his twitter account ((at)jonnycornish), Cornish stated: “So it’s decided, for this game I will be donating $10 a yard to the Red Cross. Let’s hope BC’s defense doesn’t have a problem with that!”
While impressed with Cornish’s generous offer, Lions linebacker Adam Bighill said he and the rest of the B.C. defence will do their utmost to contain Cornish.
“In a way that sucks, but in a way, we’ve got to get our job done too,” Bighill said. “He’s a good player and a feature player for them. You’ve always got to know where their weapons are and he’s definitely one of them and he touches the ball a lot.”
Veteran receiver Nik Lewis also said that he’s looking forward to seeing how the Stamps match up against B.C.
“It’s a great way to start the season off,” Lewis said. “It’s a Western Division opponent, one of the top teams since I’ve been here. It’s a great way for us to focus in and see what we’ve got early.”
Calgary quarterback Drew Tate, who’s looking to rebound from an injury-plagued 2012 season, said he can’t wait to take to the field on Friday night to play in front of a packed house.
“I think we’re all really excited about this opportunity not only just for ourselves and our team but for the city also,” Tate said.
Meanwhile, the Lions will be out to avenge a 34-29 setback at home to Calgary last November in the West Final.
“You do remember the last game you played and it was a bittersweet one,” said B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay. “Calgary came into our place and earned that one. It just teaches you if you haven’t been humbled yet in sports that you earn every single win.
“We found that out in playoffs the hard way. That’s sports. You’ve got to come back. You’ve got to have a short memory.”
Lulay added that the Lions will definitely have their work cut out for them against the Stamps.
“We have a ton of respect in our locker room for this Calgary football team and rightfully so,” Lulay said. “This is a great test for us. We just want to go out and see if all the hard work we put in at camp can be used on game day.”