Mighty mite makes case

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

The rows of red stalls lining the Stampeders locker-room walls are interrupted by a handful of doorways.

Defensive back Joey Boese's tiny chunk of real estate is a cubicle perched precariously next to one exit, just a couple of steps from the outside world.

Although conventional wisdom the past two years suggested the diminutive DB would eventually be pushed out, the rugged Californian appears to have dug in his heels, taking up permanent residence.

"I hope so," grins Boese, the team leader in defensive tackles last season with 92, an impressive followup performance to his team rookie-of-the-year effort in '03.

"If there were any doubters, I proved them wrong during camp."

While generously listed in the Stamps media guide at 5-ft. 11-in., 180-lb., a dozen recruits -- many of them larger prospects, some with NFL experience -- were airlifted into Calgary's training camp this spring, eager to win a starting job while making the secondary bigger.

But despite the team's pre-camp mandate to beef up the defensive backfield, there Boese remains on the 40-man roster, preparing for his third season as a Stampeder, the only holdover starter from last season's secondary.

"Obviously, it's all about game day and now I'm gearing myself for the season and to hopefully build on the year I had last year," insists Boese, 25.

"A lot of guys, a lot of bigger bodies, were in camp and you never know. You never know what kind of athletes they are coming into camp and you don't know how they'll adjust to this game.

"It's different. A guy who's a stud in the States comes up here and can't get it done or vice versa. I'm confident in my ability and I try not to worry about other guys but I think I maybe crossed that hurdle this year."

Boese contends his outstanding numbers from last season are a combination of his position -- boundary halfback -- and a tendency for opposing offences to mistakenly view him as an easy target.

"The ball naturally is going to go my way as most teams in this league attack the boundary more than the field," explains Boese, who also hauled in three interceptions in 2004.

"At boundary half, you're going to see more of the big-time receivers in that boundary slot. Were they picking on me or do they do that with all the boundary halfs? A little of both, probably."

While the Stampeders defence was already formidable last season despite a woeful 4-14 record, Boese is hopeful substantial upgrades on offence help the club deliver a winning season.

The proof will be on the field when the Stampeders kickoff the CFL season by hosting the Grey Cup champions Argos July 1.

"We've made changes here for the better, obviously, and you can see there's a plan here for the future, not just a one-shot deal to try to do it this year," Boese declares.

The past two seasons haven't been easy for the University of Wisconsin product to swallow. His Badgers won two Rose Bowls before he was introduced to the pro game in Calgary.

"I've been here for two full years and those were the two worst seasons I've ever been through in high school and college," Boese says.

"I've never been on a team that had no chance by the middle of the year. When you go on seven- or eight-game losing streaks, that gets a little deflating at times.

"I don't see that happening at all this year with our talent. They brought in a lot of guys with character who aren't quitters and guys who are going to compete even if things aren't going great.

"I don't see a losing record happening again."

It's that kind of optimism that has Boese hopeful he'll soon sign his name on a contract extension.

"There's been some talks with my agent," Boese says.

"I don't know where we're at but hopefully we can do something here quick. I'd like to be here until my career's over."


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