Asked Monday what makes Taylor Field such a tough place to play, Stampeders coach John Hufnagel turned to a reporter and posed a question of his own: “Have you been there lately?”
The Horsemen have, and considering the outcome, you could hardly blame them if they never wanted to go back.
Truth is, they can’t wait.
“This is something we talked about after we lost to them last week, that we want to do whatever it takes to make sure we get back there,” said quarterback Henry Burris. “We’re getting our chance to go back now. We get a chance to make the wrongs into a right.
“We’re ready to go back there. We know it’s going to be a tough game, but we’re definitely looking forward to it.”
By virtue of beating the Stamps in the regular-season finale and winning the division crown, the Riders are prepping to host the West Final for the first time since 1976.
Moments after booking a return trip to Regina win a 24-21 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in Sunday’s semifinal, though, the only history most of the Stamps wanted to talk about was Nov. 7.
That, of course, was the day the Riders rolled over their out-of-town guests, storming to a 17-point lead and cruising to a 30-14 victory.
“The Riders got us last time, so we’re looking for revenge,” said cornerback Brandon Browner.
It’s worth noting a measure of redemption isn’t the only thing on the line in Sunday’s playoff clash.
While his players enjoyed a day off to heal their bumps and bruises, Hufnagel politely reminded reporters Monday there’s only one storyline that really matters.
Forget revenge. Forget the regular-season series. Remember Nov. 29.
“Truthfully, going into this game, what we had accomplished or didn’t accomplish in the regular-season games really has no bearing on (players’) mental makeup for this football game,” Hufnagel said. “It’s the Western Final. The winner goes to the Grey Cup. That’s motivation enough.”
The Stamps have been fielding questions since the first day of training camp about the possibility of trying to repeat as champions on home turf.
To earn the right to play in the Grey Cup game at McMahon Stadium, they’ll first have to notch a victory in perhaps the CFL’s most hostile environment against a team they haven’t beaten in three tries this season.
One key, according to Hufnagel, will be tuning out the rowdy Riders faithful.
Calgary’s coach turned back the clock Monday, reminiscing about visiting the rival Lions at BC Place Stadium as a pivot for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the mid-80s.
“You couldn’t buy a ticket for those games and the noise, it was something else. You could be screaming right next to you to the person you’re trying to talk to and they couldn’t hear you,” Hufnagel recalled. “That’s how loud it was, and when you go to Mosaic Stadium, that’s how loud it is. It’s a very loud crowd. We have to be very good with our poise in the noise.
“One thing I was pleased about in the last game against Saskatchewan is I thought we did handle the noise situation fairly well. We didn’t have a lot of procedure calls and it didn’t affect our communication offensively or defensively.
“We just needed to make more plays.”
The Stamps might be headed to Saskatchewan without centre Rob Lazeo. He injured his ankle/knee in Sunday’s win over the Eskimos and Hufnagel said Monday his prognosis is “not looking good.”
On the other hand, Hufnagel said he is “very optimistic” fullback Teyo Johnson will return to lineup after missing the division semifinal with a stab wound.