The secret weapon

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

INNISFAIL -- John Morris needed a change of luck.

So, this week he's brought along a secret weapon and conjured up some semantic trickery to shake things up.

Last season, Morris skipped the highest-rated Alberta team in the Canadian Teams Ranking System. That's how the Calgary-based team earned a bye into this provincial.

Yet, despite his dominance on the cashspiel circuit, Morris had a bad week at the 2004 provincial in Hinton, finishing with a 3-4 record.

The secret weapon? His dad Earle.

The trickery? Morris struck a deal to affiliate with the Innisfail Curling Club.

Earle Morris represented three different provinces in his three Brier appearances, skipping twice. He played third for John at last weekend's Viking Fridge Spiel and was given permission to coach his son's team this week.

"Most of the big championships I'm in, my dad has been around," said Morris. "He's taught me a lot of what he knows. He's good to have as a father and a fan. He'll give me the odd tips on mechanics and strategy.

"I wanted him to play in the Viking spiel and it turned out Viking was a week before the provincials. He's down for two weeks. We asked the ACF (Alberta Curling Federation) if he could coach. It was sort of a last-minute thing."

The residency thing is sort of unusual and reflects the far-flung makeup of the team.

Second Marc Kennedy lives in St. Albert. Kennedy played for teams that were eliminated by Morris at Canadian juniors in the years (1998-99) Morris went on to win his two world junior titles.

"With a bye to the provincials, we thought it would be a good opportunity to represent a club and this club wanted us to represent them," said Morris, who moved to Calgary from Ottawa before last season.

"It cost us a good chunk of membership to play in a (Calgary) league that only two of us could make. It wasn't a great experience.

"This club is right between Calgary and Edmonton. In exchange for affiliation, we offered to do a junior clinic and help the club in any way we could. It turned out to be a good fit."

The relationship has worked out well and could continue in the future.

"Everybody here has been great. It's a small-town mentality.

"Everybody here is supporting the event and we thought it would be a real good idea.

"If we win this thing, I don't know why we'd change clubs."

Whatever Morris has done to mix things up this week seems to have worked.

The team edged out Randy Ferbey's for the best overall score in the pre-event skills competition, giving him choice of rocks and hammer in the playoff round.

Of course, Morris still has to make it to the playoff round.

He started off on the right foot yesterday afternoon, edging pesky veteran Rob Armitage of Red Deer 5-4 and then finished the day at 2-0 with a 9-5 win over Calgary's Adrian Bakker.

This is shaping up as a competitive week and Morris may have found the edge he needs.


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