Nasty nemesis

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Frankly, this is getting ridiculous.

Randy Ferbey's mastery over John Morris is beyond dominance.

Holding an 11-1 edge over his younger counterpart, Ferbey and his Edmonton crew are as befuddled as the rest of the curling community.

"We have had success against them and it's hard to explain why," Ferbey said. "They're very similar to us. They're very aggressive and they're passionate about the game.

"They're a good young team, one of the best teams in Canada. If I was young, I'd maybe want to go play with those guys."

The Ferbey-Morris war dates back to the 1999 Olympic trials, when Ferbey stomped a 22-year-old Morris 9-3. Morris was based in Ottawa then, a university student who had won two world junior championships.

Ferbey went seven straight after that, including three victories at the 2002 Nokia Brier at the Saddledome.

Morris finally broke the goose-egg with a 7-4 win at the 2003 Best Western Wayside Inn Classic in Lloydminster, Alta.

Morris, who moved to Calgary in 2003, remembers that sweet taste of victory but isn't so sure he can call the battle a rivalry.

"A rivalry is usually a 50-50 percentage and both teams usually have a couple of wins under their belt and some heated matchups," said Morris.

"It's not like we're scared of him or we go in feeling like we've lost before we even play."

Morris is hoping it's finally his turn.

Matter of fact, a good time would be this weekend in Innisfail, at the Kia Cup provincial playdowns.

"The good news is the last couple of times we've battled hard," Morris said. "We know we can't miss key shots against these guys and we have to keep the pressure on.

"It's not rocket science. We have a game plan and we just have to execute our shots. At the Canadian Open, I missed a draw for three and, as far as I'm concerned, that's a stranglehold on a game."

There's a cause for concern for Ferbey, chief of the Fab 4 which includes last-rock thrower Dave Nedohin, second Scott Pfeifer and lead Marcel Rocque.

"John's the type of guy who can turn that around and he will. Eventually," said Ferbey. "I'm just hoping it's not this weekend."

The last head-to-head match was a tight one, a 7-6 extra-end battle at the Canadian Open semifinal in Winnipeg with Ferbey emerging as the victor .

Morris' third, Kevin Koe, thinks they're close.

"The good thing is the last couple of times we've played him, we've had a really good shot at winning," Koe said. "The semi was by far our worst game of the weekend and we still managed to stay in there.

"We just have to knock him off once. Hopefully, this weekend is the time."

But it may not even happen.

Ferbey, who earned his berth as defending champ, and Morris, the Canadian Team Ranking System points leader for Alberta at the end of last season, are in different pools at the provincials. They could meet in the playoffs but they both have to get there first.

The Morris rink, which also includes second Marc Kennedy and lead Paul Moffatt, didn't make it that far last year, posting a 3-4 record in Hinton.

Koe is hungry to get back at it.

"Yeah, I think we have some unfinished business at provincials," he said. "Last year was pretty disappointing. Just the fact we went there and we weren't even close to making the playoffs.

"We definitely expect to do better for sure. We're going into this weekend probably playing our best. We're pretty positive."

And Ferbey, who opens provincials against Peace champ James Knievel at 10 a.m. tomorrow, knows Morris isn't the only guy looking to knock off the five-time Brier title-holder.

So does Morris, who kicks off the week at 2 p.m. against Rob Armitage of Red Deer.

"There's a handful of teams that can win this province," Morris said. "We can't take anyone lightly. They're going to be gunning for us, they're going to be gunning for Ferbey, they're going to be gunning for Jamie King.

"We have to make sure we're ready for every team."


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