Let's rewrite the ending

DAN TOTH, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Henry Burris the quarterback and Henry Burris the fledgling screenwriter meet for a brainstorming session the morning of every home game.

The QB plunks himself down to watch film of last autumn's CFL West final, his Saskatchewan Roughriders' heartbreaking OT loss to the B.C. Lions, looking to rekindle the playoff magic from that day.

The screenwriter ponders a way to pen a more palatable ending, one of those Hollywood scripts where the hero makes the winning play before parading off the field with the trophy and the girl.

Completing 28 of 39 passes for 416 yards and three touchdowns, Burris did everything in his power last November to propel the Roughies to their first Grey Cup appearance since 1997.

Now the man who spends his free time spinning tales he one day hopes will appear on the silver screen is focused on re-enacting that type of performance today. Against the visiting Edmonton Eskimos in the West semifinal, Burris is eager to field a flawless performance, the first step to rewriting that Grey Cup story.

"I watch that film from last year's West final the morning of every home game," Burris says. "That was an emotional time. You get so close to a dream coming true and you have your family and wife at the game, everybody's excited. You throw a touchdown with 40 seconds to go, see your coach on the sidelines pumping his fists in the air ... Danny Barrett had never won a Grey Cup after being in the game for 20 years and over there in Saskatchewan I wanted to win one for him."

Burris understands the joy that accompanies a Grey Cup championship, winning a ring as a third-string backup with the Stampeders in 1998.

The following season, an ACL injury sidelined the Temple product as the Stamps returned to the Grey Cup, only to lose the pinnacle contest.

This season, since returning from mid-September thumb surgery, Burris has been sensational, posting a 134.7 efficiency rating in four consecutive wins leading the Stampeders into the playoffs with an 11-7 record.

He isn't shy about targeting this as his time to shine if the Stampeders hope to return to the Grey Cup Nov. 27 in Vancouver, the sight last fall of his playoff heartache.

"You want to have those championship stories to tell your kids, give a ring to your wife and share it with your family and your father and everything," Burris says. "That's the kind of feeling you can only enjoy playing this game and nowhere else. That's why you have to be thankful, when you get this close to winning it, you have to take advantage of it. You never know when you'll get this opportunity again.

"Look at (Milt) Stegall, look at Barrett, guys who came close but didn't do it."

Stampeders offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto is also hopeful his pivot can combine talent and timing to field his best performance when it counts most. He stood on the Lions sidelines last November as Burris' drove the Riders offence up and down the field and now he's eager to see a repeat performance.

"He's a very committed football player who wants to win and he played very well for Saskatchewan towards the end of last year," Buratto points out.

"The pattern's been the same this season. He's gotten better and better and better as we've gone along."

Burris understands the pressure cooker atmosphere of big games, in fact he revels in it. He's first to point out the Stampeders can't win today without a primo performance from their pivot.

"As a quarterback, your team definitely needs you and really there's no other way you can win," Burris warns.

"If your quarterback doesn't show up in the big games, there's no way you're going to win. Quarterbacks need to step their games up in the big games."


Videos

Photos