Best is yet to come

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Look no further than the CFL standings for proof the 6-0 B.C. Lions are undisputed top cats in the West.

The unblemished Leos have beaten Edmonton, Calgary and the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argos (twice) through the first third of the season while the defending division winners also boast the best quarterbacking tandem in the loop.

Dave Dickenson has been posting eye-popping performances and when the QB rolls out of bed with a wonky back, as he did on game day last week, 2004 MVP Casey Printers steps in to save the day.

Their running game with Antonio Warren is causing league-wide headaches while the men in orange on defence are sound, making big plays when the time is ripe.

Special teams, save for the occasional wayward field-goal attempt from Duncan O'Mahony, is a solid unit.

What does it all prove?

Nothing, contends Stampeders linebacker John Grace, whose club went toe-to-toe with the Lions through three quarters two weeks ago, only to falter in the final 15 minutes.

Grace, among a growing chorus of Stamps who feel they'll be Grey Cup contenders come playoff time, submits too much is being read into the Lions' clean-as-a-whistle early season mark.

"Their record shows they've won all their games, it doesn't show they're the best team in the West, that's all their record shows right now," debates Grace, charged with trying to shut down Dickenson's offence tomorrow night at McMahon.

"The best team in the league will be the one that wins the last game of the season."

That November finale -- the Grey Cup Classic at Vancouver's B.C. Place -- is where the 3-3 Stampeders are confident they're heading, despite missing the playoffs three years running. Defensive lineman Demetrious Maxie argues his club has grown by leaps and bounds since the start of the season and will continue blooming through the middle third of the CFL campaign.

"We started off slow but everything's looking good right now," notes Maxie, nodding in agreement when asked if he thinks the Stampeders are Cup contenders.

"Winnipeg came in here (last week) and played us tough and we got a good win against them.

"Right now, B.C.'s sitting on a high but they're coming into our place and we've got to whup their (butts) this week. We have to."

Linemate Sheldon Napastuk isn't keen on the suggestion beating the Lions tomorrow night would be proof of Calgary's rise among West Division contenders.

Every week's a test, says Napastuk, and a win this week proves nothing more than last week's dominance over the ramshackle Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"Every team you play is a measuring stick but B.C.'s obviously undefeated," Napastuk points out.

"I've been around the league long enough to know that just because you beat the best team in the league that doesn't mean you're suddenly the best team or anything like that.

"All I want from this game is for us to play B.C. like we're supposed to play them. Sound assignments, good execution and just getting it done."

Leading the Stampeders offence into tomorrow night's rematch is Henry Burris, whose unit has climbed among the most productive groups in the league through six games.

The Stamps offence is averaging the second-most yards per game while Burris has improved his own statistics.

After a shaky start to the year, the free-agent acquisition has upped his completion percentage to a very respectable 61.5% and has posted three straight 300-plus yard passing games.

"This is a measuring stick for us and a win against them would give us a big boost of confidence going into the middle third of the season," Burris says.

"They've beaten everybody."


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