Slaying Lions the goal

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

Wally Buono said yesterday if today's Calgary Stampeders/B.C. Lions rematch (2 p.m., TSN) was the West Final, Dave Dickenson would be playing.

However, because the Lions have already wrapped up first place in the West Division and stand little to gain in Calgary, the quarterback stayed home to continue recovering from a concussion.

As Buono added, "we're approaching this like any other Game 16 on the schedule."

Ho hum.

It's an interesting approach given his opponent has no choice but to see this as the biggest game of the year.

Not so much that a Calgary win clinches second place and an inevitable home playoff date but because the Red & White need to get their groove back.

They need to prove to themselves the Lions can be beaten now and in the West Final, should the Stamps get that far.

And given the 39-13 thrashing they took last week, one would have to believe the extra motivation in Calgary's camp would help their cause in front of their own puzzled fans.

Simply put, anything less than a Grade A effort this afternoon would demonstrate the Stamps aren't ready to challenge for a Grey Cup.

"Even if we lose but play with 100 percent effort, everybody would feel a lot better and we'd be taking a step in the right direction," said Jeremaine Copeland, possessing a considerably more humble, cautious tone than he has against any other team.

"We just don't want them coming in and rolling over us. We have a great home record and people are scored to come in here.

"We need to make them scared."

The Lions aren't shaking at all.

Nor should they be, especially when almost every one of a half dozen Stamps asked this week suggested they didn't necessarily need to win this week but give it an honest effort -- a troubling attitude, indeed.

"I don't even know if winning and losing is as important as playing well," said Stamps o-lineman Jay McNeil, shedding even more light on the lack of confidence five straight losses against the Lions has created.

"The important thing is letting B.C. know they're going to be in a dogfight with us."

An interesting way to put it given the Stamps came home from Vancouver with their tails between their legs last week.

"If you don't come out with your knuckles all foiled up then you don't know what this game is all about," said Scott Coe, well aware the Lions decision to try an onside kick up 33-6 last week was aimed at humiliating his club.

"There's a lot of dislike from that organization to this one and it comes from Wally Buono at the top down to the water boys getting into a fight.

"It started years ago when Wally left (Calgary) and since there's always been that strong bond between us."

And while that hatred and frustration should be used to Calgary's advantage today, coach Tom Higgins figures his team needs to play with only one thing in mind -- getting on track.

"Redemption is never a good thing because you can never get ahead if you're trying to get even," said Higgins, whose club has lost nine of their last 11 meetings with B.C. "We could lose the football game but we could gain a great deal of respect in terms of how we play."

Not true.

Win or all hope of playoff success is dashed.

Not only do the fans know it, the players do too.


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