Stamps have momentum

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:59 PM ET

John Hufnagel just scoffs at the question.

Of course home field is an advantage.

The Calgary Stampeders found that out the hard way on Saturday night, as 30,000-plus Saskatchewan Roughriders fans helped the home side to victory.

“Sure it matters,” said the head coach Monday. “Why do teams have a better record at home? This is what you play for, a home-field advantage.

“We have it this week and hopefully we take advantage of it.”

The Stamps used their edge at McMahon Stadium to perfection against the Edmonton Eskimos this season.

In two home outings, the Stamps beat the Eskimos by a combined score of 62-15.

On Labour Day, a record Classic crowd of 40,729 showed up, and that certainly helped the home side to a 32-8 win. Three weeks ago, another 35,650 showed up for a 30-7 stomping.

As of yesterday, less than 30,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday’s West semifinal between the Stamps and Eskimos, with the winner getting a ticket to Regina the following Sunday to face the Riders at Mosaic Stadium.

Whether it's the usual downturn in attendance the Stamps have for post-season games or if people are just waiting until the Grey Cup, Calgary fans haven’t flocked to the box office yet.

At this stage, the temporary Grey Cup seating in the north endzone won’t be open. Those seats will be sold once the regular bowl fills up.

“I’m confident our fans will be behind us,” Hufnagel said. “The reward of getting into the playoffs is a home playoff game.”

There is an old theory in football that it’s hard to repeatly beat a team. The Stamps seem to relish in breaking that myth.

After beating the B.C. Lions in three regular-season meetings a year ago, the Stamps came through in last year's West final. Calgary also beat the Lions three times this season for a current seven-game winning streak.

In facing the Eskimos for a fifth time in 2009, the Stamps have a three-game win streak going, just as they did 12 months ago against B.C.

“This is what happens when you are in a four-team division and you get into the playoffs,” Hufnagel said.

“You are facing teams you played several times during the season. We played B.C. last season in the final and we played them a few times before.

“There is always game-plan wrinkles. As far as personnel, the players should be familiar with their opponent. They know what they need to do to be successful against their opponent. That doesn‚t mean preparation is any less in getting ready to play.”

Despite plenty of struggles this season, the Eskimos managed to finish with a 9-9 record, which is only three points behind the Stamps and Riders at 10-7-1.

The Lions finished last in the West Division at 8-10 and they earned a crossover berth and will face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on the road.

But all the records get thrown out once the Śtournament‚ starts, so Hufnagel knows what happened prior to Sunday doesn‚t matter anymore.

“When you have that many teams so close to each other, anything that can happen now,” Hufnagel said. “All the teams are 0-0 and it’s a must-win situation for every team. We will see what team can handle that pressure the best.

“This is the first playoff game, it’s against Edmonton and it’s at home. There isn‚t much need for too many (motivational) speeches.

“Our players are eager to play and they will be ready to play.”


Videos

Photos