Antics put boots to class

Stampeders kicker Sandro DeAngelis (centre) celebrates with teammates Brian Clark (left) and Wes...

Stampeders kicker Sandro DeAngelis (centre) celebrates with teammates Brian Clark (left) and Wes Lysack after kicking the winning field goal with no time left against the Eskimos on Saturday. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

After a year of embarrassment, Tom Higgins thought he finally had a handle on things.

Apparently he was wrong.

Higgins and his management team racked their brains last winter trying to figure out how to stop players from infuriating local fans and opponents around the league who were disgusted by the club's juvenile celebrations following everything from touchdowns to the coin toss.

The solution, he figured, was the 'One' concept, a pledge to exemplify class and unity by demanding players put the team ahead of themselves.

That meant those wearing team-issued Red & White were supposed to bite their tongues during interviews, preach the team concept and act like pros on and off the field.

No more shameless self-promoting.

No more choreographed endzone celebrations.

No more showboating.

Sandro DeAngelis apparently missed the memo.

At the conclusion of Saturday's last-second win in Edmonton, the kicker embarrassed himself and his organization following his game-winning kick with a clearly planned, 60-yard dash to the endzone. His head-first dive into what he thought was a puddle not only missed the water but put the Stamps squarely back on top of the list of the CFL's most hated clubs.

As if that wasn't enough, punter Burke Dales kneeled in front of his kicking mate and had the game hero place his cleated shoe on his knee for a quick shine as if he owned the golden boot.

So much for scrapping the overzealous celebrations.

So much for winning with class.

As one furious Eskimos player pointed out, it's not like he won the Grey Cup. It was Game 6.

Granted, the team dearly needed the win, and DeAngelis is an excitable type to relish the moment for which every kicker prays.

However, it flew in the face of everything the club's supposed leader promised this team would be about.

What's more, his silly scamper raised the ire of an Eskimos club that will be in Calgary on Labour Day with a little extra incentive to even the series.

Never a good idea, Higgins agreed.

"I knew, at some point in time, it might get a little bit out of hand," said Higgins yesterday, insisting he heard of the celebration second-hand as he was focused on shaking hands with Eskimos coaches, excluding Danny Maciocia.

"But you can reel it back in very easily by saying 'you know what, we don't need to do that.'

"When you win a game, it's a little bit different than when it's in your face at other parts (of the game). I think we've done a pretty good job through the first one-third of the football season."

Earlier in the evening, Jeremaine Copeland did a touchdown dance that wasn't over the line -- merely a quick jig that seemed spontaneous enough to satisfy coach Higgins, who detests PACS: planned acts of celebration.

However, because Copeland's strut found him standing on the edge of the track that surrounds the field at Commonwealth Stadium, it instantly triggered memories of last year's mock track meet celebration by the Stamps receivers.

And THAT was what every opposing player in the league thought of, too.

The result: After five games of relative humility, the Stamps are back to their old ways and are once again No. 1 on the hit list of every team in the CFL.

The swagger may not be there as it was last year when the club thought it was much better than it obviously was, but the ability to irritate is just as strong as ever.

Just ask Esks linebacker A.J. Gass.


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