Stamps usually take their licks in Ottawa

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

The Renegades can't say they've had much success against any CFL opponent -- except the Calgary Stampeders.

It's one of the big mysteries of the three-year-old franchise.

4 WINS FOR 'GADES

The Renegades have won three straight meetings against the Stamps and haven't lost at Frank Clair Stadium to the visitors from Calgary since the inaugural 2002 campaign.

And of the six meetings between the clubs since the Renegades broke into the league, Ottawa has won four of them and lost one in overtime.

"I can't explain why they've had so much success against us," said 13-year Stampeders veteran centre Jamie Crysdale. "I think a lot of times, and I'm not taking away from how good the Ottawa team is, we kill ourselves."

Like last year when the Stampeders rolled into town in late July and had the game in the bag -- only to lose 31-30 on a last-minute field goal by Sandro Sciortino.

Calgary led by 15 in the fourth quarter and by nine with less than two minutes remaining, but the Renegades got a touchdown from Demetris Bendross to get within two.

Then, after an unsuccessful onside kick with less than one minute left, all the Stamps needed to do was kill the clock and the game was theirs.

But inexplicably on the next play, rookie QB Tommy Jones rolled out to pass, and Kelly Wiltshire blitzed in and forced a fumble that was recovered by Tim Fleizser on the Ottawa 41.

The Renegades proceeded to drive into field-goal range, and Sciortino nailed a 31-yarder for the unbelievable victory.

It was a loss that demoralized the Stampeders.

"That game (in Ottawa) was a turning point for that team," said Crysdale. "That really put us on a downhill skid and we never really recovered from it."

The Stampeders lost the rematch in Calgary in September when Sciortino, who had found out earlier in the week that he had testicular cancer, booted a 53-yard field goal in the final minute for a 26-24 win.

Calgary finished the year with a 5-13 record and missed the playoffs for a third straight year.

But the Stampeders emphasize that this year's a different story.

BIG SIGNINGS

There's a new ownership group, headed by Ted Hellard who bought the club from Mike Feterik, and a revamped coaching staff -- gone is Matt Dunigan and in are head man Tom Higgins and GM Jim Barker, the team's former coach.

The team made some big off-season free-agent signings, getting quarterback Henry Burris from Saskatchewan and receiver Jeremaine Copeland from Montreal.

"The guys here are proven winners. Last year, we had a team full of a lot of no-name guys. Now, we've got a team full of guys that know what it takes to win," said Calgary linebacker and former Ottawa fan-favourite John Grace.

"It's going to be the task for all of us to come together and start going in the same direction."

Crysdale thinks that might not be too far off.

"We know that with the guys we've got -- with Henry and the receivers -- that we'll start to click," he said. "And once they do, who knows what will happen."

VIVE L'ALBERTA LIBRE: Six members of the Calgary roster are Quebec natives. Two are former Renegades: injured OL Alex Gauthier and OL David De La Perralle. The others are LB Marc Calixte, DL Randy Chevrier, DB Stephane Fortin and DB Pascal Masson.

STAMPS NOTES: Stamps OL Jeff Pilon, on facing his older brother, Renegades DL Marc Pilon, on the line of scrimmage tonight: "I won't do anything to hurt him because he is my best friend and we are really close. But if I've got to block him, I've got to do what I've got to do to keep him away from the quarterback" ... The Stampeders have not won back-to-back games since July of 2003, a win at home over the Renegades and a road victory in Hamilton.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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