Huf hungry for win streak

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

One key divisional win is nice.

But John Hufnagel needs to see a few more signs that his group is going to be firing on all cylinders when this CFL regular season concludes.

The Calgary Stampeders (7-5) are only one win off their pace from last season when they rolled into the playoffs and won the Grey Cup.

That, in itself, isn't good enough right now.

The Stamps went 5-1 in the final six last year and were the hottest CFL team heading into the playoffs.

"We need to put some wins together," said Hufnagel yesterday.

"We had a three-game winning streak this year, but we have to get back and put some back-to-back wins together.

"If we do that, then I could say we're back on the right track. I do think we won a big game last week and we're going in the right direction."

One-third of the gruelling CFL regular season is left to play, and the Stamps have four of six games left against West Division opponents.

By beating the B.C. Lions 27-18 Friday night at McMahon Stadium, the Stamps managed to avoid a crazy logjam with a three-way tie for second -- and last place -- in the division.

Even with one win more than the Edmonton Eskimos and two more than the Lions, Hufnagel isn't confident that will last.

Home-field advantage will make a difference in November, especially for the Stampeders, who could squeeze 46,000 or so into McMahon Stadium.

"I truly believe it's going to come down to the last game of the season," Hufnagel said.

"You are just fighting each and every week to get a win. It will be important to be playing real good football at the end."

Unlike a week ago when Hufnagel needed to pull of a massive trade with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to fill holes at receiver, the Stamps came out of Friday's win healthy.

There will be a tough decision this week as Mike Labinjo is set to return to the defensive line.

A roster move will have to be made to squeeze the Canadian into the lineup, but Hufnagel prefers to have choices.

The starting group of Charleston Hughes, Tearrius George, Miguel Robede and DeVone Claybrooks did a decent job of getting pressure on Lions pivot Buck Pierce last week, but stopping the run was once again a problem.

Lions running back Martell Mallett hit the 1,000-yard mark for the season by running for 136 yards on 15 carries, which is a solid 9.1-yard average.

The Stamps offence managed to run well, but the passing game wasn't great.

But what concerns Hufnagel more is two fumbles -- one by Joffrey Reynolds and one by Demetris Summers -- and the two balls that popped loose from receivers after hitting the ground.

Both times, the Stamps maintained possession after reviews of Nik Lewis and Romby Bryant were not ruled fumbles, but Hufnagel stressed it would be easier if those things didn't happen.

All in all, the Stamps are ready to take care of the Tiger-Cats Saturday at McMahon Stadium to prove they deserve contender status.

"There was good and bad, but it was a step forward," Hufnagel said.

"It was a win we desperately needed to get. Now, we focus on Hamilton.

"You take each game as it comes. We always have the philosophy the most important game is the next one, and that happens to be Hamilton.

"Hopefully, we can do a good job against them and look forward from there."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos