Paint this one hostile

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

In terms of regular-season games in the CFL, it doesn't get much bigger than this weekend's tilt at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

With the Stampeders beating the hapless Winnipeg Blue Bombers 46-24 yesterday, the Eskimo-Stamps battle this Sunday could decide first, second and third place in the West Division.

"I think it is going to be like Labour Day Part 2," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia. "It's going to be a wild environment, a pretty hostile one I'm sure. Tagging this game as a huge contest maybe would be an understatement."

At the moment, the Eskimos sit second at 11-6, two points ahead of Calgary and two points behind the B.C. Lions.

A BUNCH OF 'IFS'

If the Lions lose at home to Saskatchewan on Saturday night, an Eskimo win in Calgary on Sunday gives the Green and Gold first place based on the tiebreaking rules, the Leos second and the Stamps third.

But a B.C. loss coupled with an Edmonton loss on the weekend would mean the Leos finish first, Calgary finishes second and the Esks drop to third.

And that is just one set of scenarios.

If B.C. wins Saturday night, it clinches first, leaving Edmonton and Calgary battling for second place, with the winner hosting the West semifinal.

If all the combinations and permutations give you a headache, this is the simplest set of facts to remember:

A) An Edmonton win against Calgary guarantees a home playoff game at Commonwealth - either the West final or West semifinal.

B) An Edmonton loss in Cowtown pushes the Eskimos to third, meaning a long road to the Grey Cup, starting back in Calgary in the semifinal on Nov. 13.

And the Stamps have owned the Eskimos during that last six quarters: the back half of Labour Day and the entire rematch in Edmonton.

"(Defensive) coach (Denny) Creehan has developed some pretty complicated schemes that have virtually kept us under wraps," receiver Ed Hervey remarked yesterday.

In the last six quarters, Edmonton has scored just one offensive TD against Calgary. The Stamps also chased quarterback Ricky Ray all over the field with seemingly relentless pressure.

"This time we are coming in with a more balanced attack. We have Troy Davis and Dan Comiskey. They have to be concerned about our running game," added Hervey.

Winnipeg's Charles Roberts shredded the Calgary defence for almost 120 rushing yards yesterday and two TDs.

But the Stampeder secondary intercepted Bomber pivot Kevin Glenn three times and only allowed 237 yards.

It marked the ninth straight game the defence has held an opposing quarterback under 300 yards.

"The area of concern had been trying to solidify the secondary. Through injuries we had to make adjustments and now, at the end of the football season, they are playing very well," said Calgary head coach Tom Higgins on the phone from Winnipeg last night.

It will be a showdown of two stingy defences and two surging clubs this weekend.

Edmonton has won three straight and four of its last five. Calgary has six wins of its last seven games, making it the hottest team in the entire league over that stretch.

It's also Maciocia vs. Higgins, Round 3.

Needless to say, the hype has already started - and the game isn't until Sunday.


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