What are Stamps made of?

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

CALGARY -- Tomorrow's Labour Day Classic is not about Tom Higgins dueling Danny Maciocia.

It's not about Brett battling brother Brock Ralph.

It's not about the CBC's silly silent picture show and it's not about injuries, momentum or bragging rights.

Tomorrow's game is all about finding out whether the Stamps are ready to be contenders.

In yet another season in which a losing 4-5 record is being backed by promises the club is ''moving in the right direction,'' the first meaningful Labour Day game in years will be the ultimate Red & White measuring stick.

Can the Stamps truly play with the big boys and battle it out for second place or is the rebuilding process still a year or two away?

BRINK OF A BREAKTHROUGH?

Does Henry Burris truly have the club on the brink of a breakthrough or are Higgins's heroes still a major work in progress.

It will all be determined tomorrow and Sheldon Napastuk, for one, can't wait to see the result.

''This is a good chance to see what kind of team we've got and find out if we have we taken the steps necessary to be a contender?'' said the Stamps defensive lineman.

''Other Labour Day games I've played in in the past have been all about pride and while pride is part of this this is a chance to beat a western opponent that's next on our list in terms of rankings. This is something way bigger than all that other stuff.''

No one questions the talent and depth of the 6-3 Eskimos, who are perhaps second only to B.C. in CFL hierarchy.

They'll come to play. And they'll do so with an eye on burying any hopes the Stamps have of turning the franchise around.

The talent of the Stamps is not a question either, but what is very much in the air is how long will it take for the assembled stars to meld into a unit cohesive enough to compete weekly with the league's top teams.

''This is a chance to prove to ourselves and show the rest of the league that we're supposed to be up here with the contenders and that we're the elite now,'' said linebacker Scott Coe of the Stampeders.

''We really have to set a mark. We've played good teams and won some and lost some. We've been in every game except Ottawa but the key is being consistent.''

So far the only thing consistent about the Stamps is their pattern of winning one game and losing the next. According to the chart the Stamps are due to rebound from a mind-numbing collapse in Toronto by pulling one out in front of tomorrow's sold-out crowd at McMahon Stadium.

If so, the Stamps would be back at .500, crawl within two points of the Eskimos, have momentum going into Commonwealth Friday, and kick-start a second half full of promise.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

If not, a season preceded by such great expectations would see the Stamps all but eliminated from the race for a home playoff date.

What's more, the club would find itself in a tight race for the final playoff spot in the West as they drop into a fourth-place tie with the winner of today's Saskatchewan/Winnipeg game. They'll remain just two points out of last.

''If we think we're legitimate playoff contenders this is a game we need to make a statement,'' said Jamie Crysdale, who will return to the lineup after four weeks of injury rehab.

''I don't look at it as a situation to prove something,'' jumped in Burris.

''I look at it like if we want to be in second place here's our opportunity. It starts with this one. I feel comfortable we can do it.''


Videos

Photos