It ain't over till it's overUpbeat Stampeders confident they can get back in playoff hunt
By DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun
Have the Calgary Stampeders been transformed from pretenders to contenders with Saturday's win over Winnipeg?
The men wearing Red and White like to think so, still basking yesterday in the glow of an impressive 49-27 bashing of the Bombers to improve their record to a more respectable 2-5.
Adding to the euphoria around McMahon Stadium is the wonky West Division playoff race that leaves the Stamps just two points out of a tie for second place.
They also enjoy a game in hand over third-place Saskatchewan, the only other team they've beaten this year, with the chance to claim the season series with a win Saturday in Regina.
"This is a great opportunity for us," said veteran centre Jamie Crysdale, who watched rookie Tommy Jones complete
12 of 25 passes against the Bombers, including four touchdown tosses, while avoiding turnovers in just his second pro start.
"Tommy is developing as a good starting quarterback and people are going to keep seeing him develop week in and week out.
"This guy's potential hasn't been tapped yet and I'm really impressed with the way he's handled himself in the huddle and on the field. He's got a lot of confidence and knows he can do it and has the ability to be the starter.
"In the West, with two wins, we're just a couple of wins out of first place and Saskatchewan has played one more game than us, so we're still in it."
The Stamps play division rivals in four of their next five games, an obvious opportunity to make a move up the standings to contend for a playoff spot.
"We've lost some tough games but the good thing is this group of guys just keeps working hard. Good things will happen when you do that," said defensive lineman Joe Fleming.
"As long as we keep up with
the work ethic like we have and continue to try to improve every week, we're going to get better and better."
After a showdown with the Roughriders, the Stamps face B.C., the only West squad with a winning record, and Hamilton before the annual Labour Day Classic against Edmonton, followed by the rematch the same week.
"This is a big series of games for us," said linebacker George White, who saw teammates John Grace and Wes Lysack tag-team for four interceptions.
"If we do well, we're right back into the thick of the playoff hunt. We saw the way
the offence played (against Winnipeg) and
it sort of inspired the defence to get them the ball back even faster.
"When they're putting points up on the board, we want to get it back into their hands as fast as we can."
The running game, reactivated following the dismissal of former offensive co-ordinator John Jenkins, might also help the Stamps get onto the right track the rest of the season.
"Everybody continues to try to improve and get better and this week it paid off for us," said head coach/GM Matt Dunigan.
"We have to make it pay off for us again next week against another West Division opponent.
"You just keep moving down the road and try to get better each week."