Stamps stockpiled with talent

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Judging from the talent listed on the roster of the Calgary Stampeders on the eve of another training camp, I have the impression that second is no longer good enough.

But it seems that is not the case. In fact, third would be good enough for head coach Tom Higgins.

About to start his third season as head coach, he was blunt about the whole thing when we talked earlier this week.

"Finishing third would be good enough for me if it meant we learned to win playoff games," he said.

"The bottom line is we want to win that Grey Cup game. And if it means winning a semifinal and then the Western final, that will be good enough for me.

"I know the ownership group would like another home gate but we got that two years in a row and failed to make it work. We have got to close the gap between us and those B.C. Lions."

I've covered this football club for almost five decades now and I really don't think there has ever been a camp that offered as much competition as this one.

Think about it, if you will.

They had an all-star punter in Burke Dales but have brought in Duncan O'Mahony to challenge. They had as talented a group of receivers as there was in Canadian football last season but went out and got Marc Boerigter.

Last year, they also had a pretty fair offensive line made up of Canadians but traded to get American Garrick Jones to be even better.

And then they had an all-star running back in Joffrey Reynolds under contract but insiders are suggesting former first-round draft pick Jon Cornish out of Kansas could be the surprise of a camp that starts next weekend.

By banking all this talent, the Stampeders could also be strong at the trade table.

The goal is simple, its getting there that's tough.

MOVIN' NORTH

After helping George Hopkins with equipment and Pay Clayton in the medical room at Stamps camp, assistant equipment manager and assistant athlete therapist Steve Lines will become an athletic therapist with NHL's Edmonton Oilers.

ONE LINERS

The funny lines are always plentiful at the annual Calgary Italian Sportsman's dinner and Thursday's production, headlined by former CFL and NFL quarterback Warren Moon, offered more of the same.

But the best line of the night, in my mind, came from co-emcee Tony Spoletini, as he and Frank Mafrica introduced scholarship winners Jason Fasano, David Civatarese and Robert De Jong.

Spoletini explained "today we give the winners cheques in the amount of $4,500. When I won it in 1983, they gave us cash and I invested mine in education at the University of Crowchild Inn."

He also noted none of the winners attended St. Francis High School for the first time in the 45-year history of the event.

Spoletini's response was "is Italy moving out of Bridgeland?"

Only Italians can laugh at Italians like that.

HOT OFF THE PRESS

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated features former U of C student Jessica Zelinka, who was recognized for the most amazing track season in school history as she won everything she entered and added a BLG award for good measure.

But soon-to-be-retired Dinos PR guy Jack Neuman was quick to point out that Jessica is not the first Dino to be recognized.

In fact the first was volleyball star Bonnie MacRae in 1983 and she was followed by Greg Vavra (football),Jodi Evans (basketball), Curtis Myden (swimming), Jennifer Johnson, (volleyball), Richard Bohne (basketball) and then Stephanee O'Neill (soccer).


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