Stamps mum on preferred playoff foe

WES GILBERTSON

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Most of the Calgary Stampeders will be channelling their attention to the same place today.

That channel would be TSN, the official broadcaster of the CFL and the home of today's West semifinal between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the B.C. Lions.

The Stampeders welcome the winner to McMahon Stadium next Saturday for the division final.

"It'll be interesting to see who comes out on top," said Stamps slotback Brett Ralph. "I'm just glad we can sit back and watch them beat each other up."

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will host the Edmonton Eskimos, who earned a cross-over berth, in the East Division semifinal, the first half of today's double-header (11 a.m., TSN). And there's little doubt Taylor Field will be rockin' when the Riders try to avenge back-to-back regular-season losses to the Leos (2:30 p.m., TSN).

After sewing up top spot in the West with a 13-5 record, the Stampeders earned a first-round bye and a few extra days to heal their bumps and bruises. It's the longest span the club has had between games since mid-August, and star quarterback Henry Burris is excited about kicking back while his divisional rivals are kicking off.

Smilin' Hank and several teammates are planning to tune in together.

"There'll be a lot of excitement going on, because guys will be eating good food and I'll be just sipping on some wine and watching the game," Burris said. "It'll be a good time."

Just don't bother asking the Stamps who they'll be rooting for.

"Nobody will be going for anybody," Burris insisted. "We'll just be looking forward to somebody making good plays and seeing who's going to do what to who and who's going to be the winner."

Having rattled off five straight victories on home turf -- including a 42-5 throttling of the Riders Oct. 13 and a 41-30 victory over the Lions in the regular-season finale last Saturday -- the Stamps figure they can go toe-to-toe with all comers.

The Red & White split a four-game season series with the Roughriders and were a perfect 3-0 against the Lions.

"Somebody asked me earlier who I thought was going to win, and I really don't know who I would pick as a favourite in the semifinal," Ralph said. "I think we match up good against both teams. Regardless of who we play, as long as we come out and execute and play our style of football, I'm confident and I think everybody on the team is confident that we can go all the way.

"If we just play Stampeder football, we're going to be good to go."

If the intensity on the practice field yesterday is any indication, the club isn't taking anything for granted.

"Everyone knows we're on a mission," said linebacker Mike Labinjo.

"We haven't had the best track record in the past few years in playoff games, and we definitely want to change that. I mean, we're one game away from the Grey Cup and that's the ultimate goal, so our coaches aren't going to back off at all."

EXTRA POINTS

Starting defensive back Lenny Walls left the field after rolling his right ankle in yesterday's practice session and did not return. Walls jumped to knock down a pass and landed awkwardly, and he didn't put any weight on his right leg as he was helped to the locker-room ... Canadian running back Jon Cornish, who had been wearing a walking boot to protect an ankle injury of his own, missed practice for the second straight day, although the boot was missing when he walked onto the field after practice.


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