Rivals won't be taken lightly

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

Henry Burris emerged from the darkened meeting room at McMahon Stadium, bleary-eyed and wearing a few days growth on his face.

No, it's not a playoff beard. Been there, done that.

"I can't grow a beard. This is mush, so I'm shaving it off today," the Calgary Stampeders quarterback said. "I didn't have it last year. But I tried it years prior, and we played as ugly as my beard.

"I'll try and keep my face pretty again."

Chalk that up to experience.

And the Stamps must heed another history lesson, as well.

In facing the Edmonton Eskimos in Sunday's West semi-final at McMahon Stadium, it's a similar situation to 2005, which was Burris' first year with the team.

Although the Stampeders whipped the Eskimos in the season finale that year 43-23, the Alberta rivals turned around the following week and mounted an 11-point comeback to knock off the second-place club 33-26.

Burris led the Stamps to two beatings of the Eskimos at home this season, including a 30-7 whipping three weeks ago after a 32-8 pounding on Labour Day.

"The difference for us from then is we're a much more disciplined team," Burris said.

"Going into the playoffs, we had pretty much annihilated them. Guys took the whole approach that it would just happen again.

"After we just got embarrassed in Saskatchewan (Saturday), guys aren't going to be taking Edmonton easy or else we will get embarrassed again.

"To lose 30-14 in a critical game like we just did, we're going to make sure we will play the type of ball we need to in order to be successful.

"I don't foresee the same hiccup happening. If we do go down, we're going to give it all we have. If they beat us, they will have to be a better team.

"We have to stay humble because there is no reason to get up on ourselves, which is the situation we had (in '05).

"That year, we beat them and thought they were done. We know they aren't done now. They are looking to keep the fire engine rolling."

The Esks may have finished 9-9, but they ride a two-game win streak into the playoffs, and that makes them as hot as any team in the post-season.

Only the Montreal Alouettes and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats won their final two games to hit the post-season on a roll.

So Burris spent the past few days in the office dissecting what he expects to see from the Eskimos defence, which allowed just two TDs in wins over the Toronto Argonauts and the B.C. Lions.

"I'm getting familiar with Edmonton's defence again," Burris said. "I have to see why they were so successful in the last two games.

"If they made some subtle changes, I have to get ready for that."

Burris felt the Stamps were successful against the Esks this season at home because of a balanced attack between running and passing.

That and an early lead.

"Getting momentum going, it helps the defence," Burris said. "Our defence did a great job of getting Ricky Ray off the field, and we did a good job of keeping him off the field. We were moving the ball and putting points on the board."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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