Crucial home-work time

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 5:23 AM ET

In a season full of must-win games, the Calgary Stampeders are facing a different scenario.

If the Stamps lose the meeting Saturday against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver, it doesn't matter -- as long as they beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the season finale.

Whoever wins the matchup Nov. 7 in Regina will host the CFL's West Division final.

Taking a week off to prepare for that epic battle goes against Stamps head coach John Hufnagel's philosophy.

"We've always stressed the fact we're trying to improve each and every week and really be playing good football at the end," Hufnagel said yesterday, fully aware of the playoff implications.

"If we win this game, then we guarantee ourselves a chance at getting a home playoff date.

"But that's only part of what we want to accomplish. The way the schedule has worked out, the final game will decide who the first-place team is.

"Both games are paramount to what we want to accomplish."

If the Stamps lose in Vancouver, the Lions have a chance at second place in the West Division as long as Calgary loses the finale.

That would mean the Stamps would travel to Vancouver for the West semi-final, something they want to avoid.

If the Riders beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Saturday, Saskatchewan will clinch at least second place as well.

The Stamps can relegate the Lions to a season-finale battle with Edmonton for third spot by beating B.C., as long as the Eskimos take care of the woeful Toronto Argonauts Friday night.

With all the scenarios abound, Hufnagel will stress to his team this week the importance of taking care of second place before worrying about first.

"Those are two big objectives, and we can achieve it,"Hufnagel said. "There is a chance to not achieve as well."

Before Friday's 30-7 win over the Eskimos, Hufnagel gave a speech to his players about controlling their own destiny.

It basically was about getting on track in all three phases.

Mission accomplished for Step 1 of a three-game run to the post-season.

"It was nice to see we had a pretty good game from our team," Hufnagel said. "The offence struggled to put back-to-back solid efforts together. Our defence was playing solid football, took a step back but came back.

"I'm pleased because we had a great effort in all three phases. Now, we have to build on it."

The Riders and Lions put on an impressive display Saturday, going to overtime before B.C. pivot Casey Printers threw an interception in the endzone to seal a Saskatchewan win. Although it was Printers' first start in more than a year, the former Tiger-Cats QB looked to be in the form he was during his first CFL stint with the Lions, back when he was the 2004 most outstanding player.

So the Stamps have a new challenge to tackle this week.

"He used his legs well," Hufnagel said. "He's an athletic quarterback, and he used that athleticism to make plays and extend plays. We have to be conscious of that."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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