Good times rush back

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Two weeks and two wins after a disappointing Labour Day defeat and suddenly the Calgary Stampeders have hit the top of the power rankings again.

And with seven games remaining and a 7-4 record, the Stampeders have put first place in the West Division back in their sights. It was a goal that looked doubtful after the Stamps lost 37-16 on Labour Day.

"We are in the driver's seat now," said receiver Jeremaine Copeland, who has 10 catches for 172 yards in wins over the Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes.

"We can't control what happens to other teams, but we can control our own destiny to the finish."

If the Stamps can string together a winning streak, they will most certainly take over first place within a month.

The struggling Toronto Argonauts visit this Saturday for the first of a home-and-home set, then the Stamps have two more games with West Division-leading Saskatchewan.

The Stamps are also catching a break as the Argos are going with Cody Pickett at quarterback instead of last season's CFL most outstanding player Kerry Joseph.

But the Stamps aren't going to look past the Argos, especially with new coach Don Matthews getting a full week to recover from a 39-9 loss to Winnipeg.

Stamps quarterback Henry Burris, who threw five TDs in the win over Montreal, will do his best to ensure his team doesn't have any more letdowns.

"I'm trying to make sure we have intensity every day, along with the other leaders on this team," Burris said.

"We feel we have the capabilities to do some special things with this team. We're a young team, but we have veteran leadership and our young guys are maturing. We're learning as we go."

By beating the Alouettes 41-30 Saturday night at McMahon Stadium, the Stamps equalled their win total of last season. But there were also memories of that disappointing campaign.

The Stamps committed 18 penalties, including the final nine straight, so the team isn't getting too excited about the victory.

"In our locker-room, we don't have highs and lows," Copeland said.

"When we lose, we know exactly what we've done to lose. We understand you will lose some games and sometimes the ball doesn't fall in your favour.

"That's the reason we understand we have to focus. Even with this win over Montreal, we're still criticizing the bad thing and that's penalties."

Although Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel called the Labour Day loss a step back, there was certainly more angst among fans than with the players.

Winning in the CFL is as much about limiting the roller-coaster of emotion that is typical in a short football season, and the Stamps have done that with several bounce-back performances.

"People put more emphasis on losses. If you lose one game, you are the worst team in the CFL," Copeland said.

"As soon as you get a victory, you are back on top of the league.

"We don't pay too much attention to what is going on out there. We know we have a good team and we're just trying to play our best at the end of the season."

The reason the Stamps only went 7-10-1 last season was because of a terrible final stretch heading into the playoffs. Getting on a roll is the key goal for the final two months.

"Last year, we won one of our last seven and then got beat in the playoffs," said receiver Nik Lewis, who left Saturday's win with a knee injury but is confident to play against the Argos.

"We have to get on a roll, have a swagger and keep everybody confident."


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