Rookie Red-y for payback

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

EDMONTON -- At the time, the idea sounded strange -- Calgary and Edmonton getting friendly and making a deal.

Two months later, the draft-day trade that sent centre John Comiskey and receiver Kevin Challenger to the Edmonton Eskimos for a first-round draft pick, which the Stampeders used to select guard Dimitri Tsoumpas, still resonates for the two clubs.

The Stampeders meet the Eskimos tonight at Commonwealth Stadium (8 p.m., TSN), and the two main parties will play significant roles, with Comiskey starting at centre for Edmonton and Tsoumpas at right guard for Calgary.

"It's going to be a big one for John," said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray. "We have been getting some linemen from Calgary. Joe (McGrath, the right tackle) and Garrick (Jones, the left tackle) are former Calgary guys, too.

"It's a big rivalry and it adds to the heat of the battles when you get some guys from the other side."

Although Tsoumpas won't say it on the record, he would love to whip the Eskimos -- the team he grew up loving.

The 6-ft.-3, 311-lb. Weber State product was actually sitting in the Eskimos offices on draft day when he was informed the Edmonton jersey he was about to put on wasn't needed. The Eskimos put him in a cab home, and the next day he went to Calgary.

"Now I'm wearing Red and White," said Tsoumpas. "I get to go back up there and play the Eskimos ... I'm very excited.

"You approach it like any other game. They are rivals, so there is added heat to that.

"You try to give it your best and play your own game. You have to make this important to you and play your best."

Tempers often flare in the Battle of Alberta. Last year at Commonwealth, now-retired Eskimos linebacker A.J. Gass threw Comiskey's helmet about 35 yards.

Now, he is wearing Green and Gold and has changed allegiances, which was made easier in the wake of the trade.

After the Stamps dealt him, Calgary's director of player personnel Jim Barker said Comiskey was injury-prone.

"I understand the business. When I read that, I just laughed. I didn't laugh at them, just at the scenario," said Comiskey, who played with shoulder and knee problems last season.

"As o-linemen, every one of us battles through things. I don't know any lineman that hasn't sustained injuries.

"As far as how I've felt this year, I've never been stronger. I feel faster. I've never known the game better. I was shocked to hear that, but it's a business and they have to come up with one reason or another to justify their actions."

There are several Calgary connections on the Eskimos roster aside from Comiskey, Jones (who spent last season with the Stamps) and McGrath (a draft pick in 2003).

Linebacker Agustin Barrenechea is from Calgary and played his university ball with the Dinos. Receiver Kamau Peterson played with the Stamps from 2001 to 2003 and won a Grey Cup with them.

The most recent former Stamp is linebacker Trey Young, who joined the Eskimos this week after being cut following training camp.

He will be on the sidelines as a healthy scratch cheering on his new team and biting his tongue about his hard feelings.

"Being there for three years and spilling your guts out for a team ... I just felt I had a good camp," Young said. "It's all part of the game. I'm excited to be here now."

When it comes to evaluating the trade, the x-factor could be Canadian receiver Challenger, who is suiting up to play special teams. The Boston College product, a second-round pick in 2007 by Calgary, doesn't mind being mentioned with Tsoumpas and Comiskey.

"I will let you guys figure out who won the trade," Challenger said. "My job is just to play football. Dimitri and John are both great players, so it worked for both sides."


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