It's easy seeing Green

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

A home playoff date against the Saskatchewan Roughriders means more than just a boost for the Calgary Stampeders' bottom line.

The Roughies provide the Stamps with their best chance to advance to the CFL West final Nov. 12 in Vancouver.

The Stampeders (10-8) boast a 2-1 record against the 'Riders (9-9) in 2006, their only winning mark against a West Division opponent this season, while posting a 5-5 overall mark in divisional games.

The Roughriders also fell victim to Calgary's best offensive performance, a 53-point effort July 8 in Regina. It was the highest output of any CFL team this season in one game.

Just 2,300 tickets remain in the 35,650-seat McMahon Stadium with more than 10,000 watermelon-wearing Roughriders fans expected to invade the facility Sunday (2 p.m. CBC).

"There's nothing better than getting booed and harassed in your own stadium," suggested Stampeders defensive tackle Sheldon Napastuk, expected to start after missing the last two games with a knee injury.

"That puts you in such a great mindset. It's like somebody coming into your house and kicking your dog. How do you feel about that? It just fires you up, (peeves) you off and that's usually what happens when the 'Riders come to town."

The Stampeders bought the game rights from the league and stand to earn a healthy profit from a near-capacity gate.

While many will make the pilgrimage from the east, a healthy contingent from the Rider Nation who now call Calgary home are expected to provide a vocal presence.

The Stampeders outscored the 'Riders 85-62 over the three-game, regular-season series, although the troika of contests was played over a five-week span in the first half of the season.

The teams haven't seen each other in three months and both clubs have made significant personnel changes since then.

Also in Calgary's favour is a sensational 8-1 home record while the Greenies managed just three road wins in 2006, losing 23-7 in their only appearance at McMahon.

Stampeders QB Henry Burris, a Roughriders pivot for three seasons (2000, '03-04), was sensational in his final appearance in Green and White, an overtime loss to the B.C. Lions in the 2004 West final.

He always enjoys playing his former team, although he insists he's set aside emotional ties to his former club.

"It's still very special to play against my old buddies, my old team, but it's playoffs and it doesn't matter if we were playing Nova Scotia or the University of Calgary, it's playoffs," beamed Burris, who signed with Calgary as a free agent prior to last season.

"The fact it's Saskatchewan makes it more exciting.

"We got two out of three against them this year and for me it was about getting over that emotional hill.

"I'm over it now but whenever I see those guys on the other sideline, I want to get ready for that game.

"It's a chance to send them home and I know they'll be trying to do that to us ... I want to be the guy on the winning team sending those guys home."

Napastuk also harbours some emotional ties to his days in Saskatchewan. He is one of several Stampeders players who have worn green while a number of Roughies have ties to Calgary.

"I've been playing long enough that I've got friends on every team and I hate guys on every team," said Napastuk, a North Battleford, Sask., product who played four seasons in the Queen City (1999-02).

"Regina's a nice opponent because it really has developed into a rivalry. We've been going after those guys for the past few years, obviously, because of all the personnel changes, and the fact this city gets divided ... So it makes for a fun game but once you get to the playoffs, you don't care who you're playing because everybody is your worst enemy."


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