Step on gas

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

On the surface it would seem the perfect antidote for a team looking to rebound: A date with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers followed by a trip to Lonie's Glieberworld.

Less than a week after Henry Burris threw away the season opener, the Stamps leave for Manitoba this morning with what would appear to be an easy assignment: Beating the 0-2 Bombers.

After breezing by a team that looks remarkably like Calgary did last year -- given its bevy of former Stamps and the absence of a legitimate starting quarterback -- Tom Higgins and his heroes could then ruin the Mardi Gras madness in Ottawa.

Realistically, when the Stamps are reunited with their fans at McMahon Stadium July 23 to play Saskatchewan, the hosts should easily be 2-1 and in the thick of what promises to be a tough Western Division.

Not so fast, warns defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan.

"If our guys show up, throw their hats in the ring and expect to win, they'll get the crap kicked out of them," said Creehan with a sobering reminder the Stamps are nowhere near good enough to take anyone lightly.

"You can have over-inflated expectations that can work against you. They have a salty front-seven -- they remind me of us last year. We know we're an up-and-coming team that has to work a lot to have a chance to win."

If not, he warns Calgary could be the West's 0-2 team, setting off alarm bells from West Hills to Whitehorn.

Said linebacker Brian Clark of the tour through Winnipeg and Ottawa: "It is dangerous. The good thing is someone is going to get their first win, the bad thing is someone will still be winless.

"It's a catch-22 that way."

No doubt the Stamps, who are favoured by three points, for what that's worth, are the ones who would be the most devastated with a loss.

After all if they can't beat the team picked unanimously to dwell in the West's cellar, how on earth can the Red and White expect to beat, well, anyone else?

How, Scott Coe?

"It doesn't matter if it's Winnipeg or the Calgary Colts, we need to put up a win," said Coe, who has caused a stir in the Winnipeg dressing room after telling the Sun last week the Bombers wouldn't be very good this year.

"They've got a lot of great athletes and it's not going to be easy. There are no easy wins out there."

Ah but in Calgary, an off-season of massive re-tooling has expectations hiked up higher than Ed Grimley's pants.

If the Calgary Stampeders were golfers, the next two weeks would be gimmees. Should be gimmees.

While a close season-opening loss to the defending Grey Cup champions was somewhat palatable, defeat at the hands of inexperienced quarterback Tee Martin would be like three-putting from four feet.

Not only would morale dip down to depths fans thought were distant memories but the Stamps could very well find themselves six points out of the West lead already.

Again, the Stamps can say all they want about their focus on improving week to week but the bottom line is this team is built to win now, not later.

Michael Feterik and his son are gone, so is Fred Fateri and the list of second-rate pivots who masqueraded as Stamps starters. There are no more excuses.

Talk of it being a must-win tomorrow night is obviously a little over the top but if the Stamps are to enjoy the first weekend of Stampede without being constantly questioned at the bar, they'd better take advantage of the gift being given by schedule makers.


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