Riders tough task for Stamps

Stampeders’ Burris has proven he can win the big game but not against the Riders. (LAURA...

Stampeders’ Burris has proven he can win the big game but not against the Riders. (LAURA PEDERSEN/Sun Media)

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:59 PM ET

CALGARY -- Henry Burris has the Grey Cup ring and the MVP to go with it.

He's overcome the hurdles, the question marks about whether he's a legitimate No. 1 quarterback and all the doubters about his choice to sign with the Calgary Stampeders in 2005.

The next thing on Burris' must-do list: Beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the playoffs.

The 34-year-old may have led his team to Grey Cup glory in 2008, but the Stamps didn't have to go through the Riders to do it.

In two post-season meetings with Saskatchewan, Burris and the Stamps have failed to get through them, so that makes tomorrow's West final in Regina another hurdle.

Obstacle

"There is always some type of obstacle you need to overcome in order to win a championship," said Burris yesterday.

"This is our one obstacle this year, playing the Roughriders. If we want to achieve it, we need to do it the hard way since we didn't get home field. This is the situation we've put ourselves in. We're confident we can get the job done, but we know it's going to be tough."

In 2006, Burris was in his second year as a full-time starter when the 10-8 Stamps hosted the 9-9 Riders at McMahon Stadium.

The Stamps jumped out to a 16-point lead but ended up blowing it as Burris threw four interceptions.

In 2007, the 7-10-1 Stamps went into Mosaic Stadium as huge underdogs with reports of now head coach John Hufnagel being hired before the previous one (Tom Higgins) was even let go.

Burris had a valiant effort, hitting Ken-Yon Rambo with a touchdown in the final minute to cut the deficit to 26-24 but an onside kick attempt failed.

There were signs then that the Burris could win the big game, as he threw for 324 yards, including a 54-yard bomb to Rambo, and the QB came through in 2008.

Since leaving Regina as a free agent, Burris has a 7-7-1 record against the Riders, but after losing a first-place showdown two weeks ago, he hasn't won the most important meetings.

"With the rivalry we have, between Saskatchewan and myself, of course you want to beat them badly," Burris said. "But it's just like any other game, as far as any other West final.

"You need to play at a higher level than you did all year long to guarantee a shot at the big show. We know it's tough because they will be flying high and have their fans behind them.

"We have the world against us, but if there is a team we're confident in, it's us."

Twenty-three months ago when Hufnagel took over the Stamps, the new coach set about breaking the hold certain situations held over the team.

Calgary hadn't won in Toronto since 2000, but the Stamps did that in 2008. They hadn't won in B.C. since 2002, but they did that twice last year.

Beating the Lions

They hadn't won a playoff game since 2001, and they did that in beating the Lions in the West final.

One thing the Stamps have in their favour is they haven't beaten the Riders this season, and pundits often say it's tough to win multiple times over the same club.

The Stamps seem to have broken that myth by winning the past seven against the Lions, and built on that by beating the Montreal Alouettes three times in 2008, including the Grey Cup game.

One thing is for certain, Burris and the Stamps haven't played their best in all phases against the Riders in 2009.

So now would be a good time.

"I wouldn't say struggles," Burris said about two losses and a tie with Saskatchewan.

"They made more plays than we did this year.

"Mental block, I don't think there is such a thing. In this game, it's about making the plays and playing for 60 minutes."

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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