Vicious case of sibling rivalry

RANDY CHEVRIER -- For Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

I remember the day that I arrived in Calgary after I signed on with the Stampeders in 2005.

The first person that found out I was with the club said to me, 'You know, there are no expectations for you guys. Last year, you were terrible, so all you have to do is beat the Eskimos on Labour Day and you'll be fine.'

The funny thing is that three years earlier when

I played in Edmonton, I heard a very similar speech. I was told that the worst sin was to lose to the Stamps. I imagine having played for both teams has given me a unique insight on the Labour Day series between the two clubs.

The first Labour Day game I played was in 2003. I'll never forget the hype surrounding the game and the build-up within the organization. It was unbelievable. I remember d-line coach Dan Kepley going slightly crazy in meeting room trying to stir up our emotions telling us we had to hate the Red and White.

Consequently, that game did have all the makings of a classic. Although Calgary was not a very good team that year, they beat us. But what I remember most about that game was a huge brawl, started when our quarterback Ricky Ray was thrown through the Gatorade Table. All hell broke loose. Somehow we managed to finish the game in a civilized manner, but it was one of the most intense games I have ever played in.

I also remember my first Labour Day game with the Stamps. I was wondering what this side of the Classic would be like.

Well, let me tell you, the emotion is just as intense when you travel south on the QEII.

I remember Jay McNeil spitting fire as he was stirring up the troops all week long. Everyday at practice, we were told stories of how the Eskimos had wronged us all. The intensity just kept building.

When you break it down, every team has the same elements: Guys you love playing with, guys you hate playing against and everything in between. In essence, all teams are the same and the players are generally pretty good guys. From my perspective, it was pretty interesting. I almost felt like an outsider because of the fact I had been on the other side.

What I observed was similar to sibling rivalry. Both teams are the sons of Alberta, and every time they meet, they are fighting to see who the better brother is. On any given day, either brother can win, because no matter what their deficiencies are, they will always bring their A-game to head-to-head tilts.

That is really what the Battle of Alberta and, especially the Labour Day Classic, is all about. Stats and standings do not matter on game day. When the game starts either team can win because of the sheer emotion involved.

From the CF-18 flyover to the streakers to the game itself, Monday's game also had the makings of a classic. The Eskimos jumped out on us. We had to respond and did. Although we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times in the first half, we were able to recover. We played a great second half of football to get the win.

Now we have the second half of the back-to-back to contend with. They say the hardest thing to do in football is to beat an opponent twice in consecutive games. I think with the way we played Monday and the game plan we have in place for Friday's game, we will come out of Edmonton showing Alberta who is this year's favourite son.

Hits to the Head

- Brandon Browner's huge play to strip Edmonton's T.J. Acree of the ball was so impressive because of the lead T.J. had on him. T.J. was 15 yards from Browner as he sprinted to the endzone before Brandon caught up and punched the ball into the endzone. Dwaine Carpenter made a heads-up play to sprint down the field to recover the ball preventing a TD.

- Browner also showed his speed earlier in the week when he was challenged to a race by other DBs after practice Thursday. The finish was questionable, but from my vantage point, Browner won the race over J.R. Ruffin. They are scheduled to race again this week. This time, there will be a camera to film the finish.


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