Hank lets play do talking

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Henry Burris promised "We'll be back."

Yesterday, the Calgary Stampeders' star signal-caller backed it up.

Smilin' Hank might've offended Maurice Lloyd with his vow to make a return trip to Taylor Field for the West Division final, but the loose-lipped linebacker and his Edmonton Eskimos teammates failed to block the road to Regina.

"It's a homecoming," Burris said. "We were champing at the bit wanting that opportunity, and we went out and earned it."

In leading his team to a 24-21 victory in yesterday's West Division semifinal at McMahon Stadium, he also earned the final say in what was a one-sided war of words with a couple of Eskimos.

Lloyd complained earlier this week about Burris' see-you-in-Saskatchewan proclamation, suggesting the Stampeders star wasn't showing his team enough respect.

Cornerback Byron Parker also made the press clippings, telling a reporter he planned to sit in Burris' stall in the Stamps' locker-room during Grey Cup week.

Given plenty of opportunities to fire back, Burris never took the bait.

Not until he hit the field.

"Our No.-1 thing was stay focused on what we have to do as a team and make sure we do whatever it takes to get the job done," Burris said.

"We're focused on us, that's all we're focused on. When we go out and play the type of ball that we know we can play, we play good football. We don't get caught up in the hoopla because, at the end of the day, it's how you play.

"That's all that matters."

The veteran pivot finished 19-of-32 for 264 yards and two touchdowns through the air yesterday and also showed off some impressive footwork, rushing for 63 yards on seven carries.

Although the offence stalled inside the red-zone three times in the first half, Burris made big plays when his squad needed them most.

He fired a bullet to receiver Romby Bryant for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, then kept the ball out of Ricky Ray's hands by bulldogging his way to a first down on a third-and-inches sneak with less than two minutes remaining on the clock to preserve the three-point victory.

"A real professional is going to let their play do the talking," said slotback Jeremaine Copeland.

"We're not going to go out there and give you a bunch of bulletin board material that you can hang in the locker-room to get motivated. We're going to go out and be calm, play our game and just try to execute whenever our opportunities are there.

"And that's what Hank did. He executed."

Even after the final buzzer sounded yesterday, Burris steered clear of the verbal battle.

While Lloyd and Parker embarked on a sure-to-be sombre bus ride back to Edmonton, Burris insisted he'd already turned his focus to the Roughriders.

"This is something we talked about when we lost to them last week, that we want to do whatever it takes to make sure we get back there," he said. "We're getting our chance to go back now."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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