The Henry Burris Era: Part 2 got off on the right foot. Too bad it wasn't webbed.
Playing on rain-drenched turf, the new-look Calgary Stampeders -- with Burris at the controls of the offence for the first half -- cruised to an 18-14 pre-season victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders last night at McMahon Stadium.
The score on this cold and miserable night was, of course, ultimately inconsequential.
What truly mattered were the performances of Burris and receivers Jeremaine Copeland and Nik Lewis, who injected some excitement into a Stampeders offence that was practically moribund last season.
Copeland, a former Montreal Alouettes standout who signed here in the off-season, said things can only get better.
"We got some of the small things done in the first half," Copeland said.
"It's a matter of getting our timing down right now. We're pretty sure it will work out when it gets dry. There was a lot of good things and a lot of bad things.
"We'll check them all out and see what we can do."
Stampeders head coach Tom Higgins showed off the trio from get-go. On the opening play, Burris lateralled to Copeland, who threw to a TD strike to Lewis.
Higgins said he wanted to throw a little razzle-dazzle into the offence.
"We're always going to have a trick or two," he said. "Everyone can wait until we get third-and-19, then we're going to fake the ball."
After this explosive start, however, the offence wasn't all that sharp.
Burris, a former 'Rider in his second stint with the Red and White, played the entire first half and went 5-of-16 for 70 yards and no interceptions.
Not exactly all-star numbers but he ran the offence with authority.
"It was exactly what we expected," Higgins said of Burris' performance.
"We wanted him to execute with the football team and he did that. He ran our offence and what we wanted to do.
"We did want to score more points but, at the end of the day, it was going to be difficult for anybody to play well in that kind of weather."
With Calgary leading 12-0 in the second quarter, former Stamps pivot Marcus Crandell got the 'Riders on the board, driving 57 yards, capped with a Chris Szarka three-yard plunge.
The 'Riders took a 14-12 lead in the third when QB Rocky Butler scored on a one-yard keeper.
The Stamps regained the lead for good in the final quarter thanks to two Sandro DeAngelis field goals, from 38 and 30 yards. He also nailed an 18-yarder to end the first quarter.
Despite the many fumbles and miscues caused by the rain, Burris called the game a good start for the Stamps.
"We look at this as a foreshadowing of washing away the old and making way for the new," Burris said.
"We were looking forward to this and it was good to work through a tough time.
"Adversity is going to help us grow and come out on top in the end."