Masson's gunning for Bashir

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

There's a peculiar scene Pascal Masson wants to help create more than once tonight at McMahon Stadium.

The picture is of Toronto Argonauts return specialist Bashir Levingston heading towards his own endzone in a futile attempt to find a hole upfield.

Masson, the short-side gunner on the Calgary Stampeders punt-coverage unit, will be first downfield to make sure it happens.

"The plan is to stop his progression. We don't want him running upfield and breaking, we want him going side to side, maybe back," said Masson. "I want to take the first shot at him because, even if I miss, I will slow him down."

Every time Levingston touches the ball he's a threat to score, as evidenced by his 11 special teams touchdowns in three seasons.

With Arland Bruce III also waiting for the ball, Toronto has the best one-two punch in terms of returners.

So the Argos present quite the challenge for the Stamps and first-year special teams coach Craig Dickenson and it comes in the season opener.

Calgary's coverage units haven't had much opportunity to test out their schemes, which has Dickenson a little nervous.

"The last three years, they have the best return group in the CFL by a landslide," said Dickenson, who took over the unit from Trey Junkin.

"Bashir Levingston now with Arland Bruce, that's the toughest matchup we'll see all year on special teams. It will really be on our cover teams to be strong."

Last season under Junkin, the Stamps coverage unit went through one of the roughest stretches in franchise history.

In four straight games, the Stamps allowed a special teams touchdown. Much of the same cover players are still on the main unit.

Masson lines up next to Joey Boese, while on the other side, Ronney Jenkins replaces Matt McKnight beside George White.

The problem, according to Masson, was the coverages that were called and not the manpower.

"With Craig as the new special teams coach, we have some really good schemes this year," said the second-year Stampeder. "And we have a lot of speed."

So Masson hopes if he doesn't tackle Levingston and the returner gets free, reinforcements will be there to help.

"If he bounces out, there's Boese there and if he goes the other way, we have a linebacker there," Masson said. "My main goal is to take a shot at him, make him choose a side and slow him down."

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ROMANO IN BOOTH: Mark Stephen will have a new voice to work with in the booth tonight but it will be a familiar face. With Greg Peterson away for personal reasons, former Stamps offensive lineman Rocco Romano will join Stephen on the QR77 radio broadcast ... The Stamps have sold more than 20,500 season tickets as of yesterday and have more than 30,000 tickets spoken for tonight.

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TORONTO ARGONAUTS AT CALGARY STAMPEDERS, 7 P.M., MCMAHON STADIUM

Roster changes

Calgary: None.

Toronto: RB John Avery in for RB Hakim Hill; LB Marvin Godbolt in for LB Antonious Bonner


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