Just like old times for Stamps

BC Lions quarterback Travis Lulay is sacked by Calgary Stampeders' Tristan. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

BC Lions quarterback Travis Lulay is sacked by Calgary Stampeders' Tristan. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:15 PM ET

A 5-1 record through the first third of the season.

It harkens a Calgary Stampeders follower back to heydays of the mid-1990s.

Remember those seasons?

The Stampeders racked up 15 wins in three straight years from 1993 through ’95.

Doing the math, this year’s team is on that same pace.

Start the engraving, the Grey Cup is at hand.

Actually, it wasn’t then — in fact, the Stamps never won the title in any of those seasons — and it certainly isn’t now.

Hey, a Grey Cup title is possible come November, but hardly a slam-dunk.

Nor is a 15-3 record a sure thing with so much of the season remaining.

Certainly not with the schedule that lays before the team, which resumes Sunday at McMahon Stadium against the Edmonton Eskimos.

One-third of the way through the season, the Stampeders have proven themselves to be among the league’s elite, but are they receiving enough credit? Do they deserve more credit?

The answer to the first question is no.

As for the second, yes, but with some qualification.

Going into Week 6 of the CFL season, all the talk was about the matchup between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Montreal Alouettes, which was billed as a heavyweight fight between the clubs which met in last November’s championship tilt.

By comparison, Calgary’s clash with the B.C. Lions was nearly an afterthought.

Efficiently, the Stampeders took care of business with a 27-22 victory at Empire Fields to grab sole possession of first place in the West Division.

But, once again, they’re hardly the talk of the league.

That’s a shame, since Calgary has been the CFL’s best defensive squad, quarterback Henry Burris has thrown more touchdowns than any other pivot, and they’re winning with a nicely balanced attack.

For those reasons, they deserve more credit from league followers.

It’s easy to dismiss Calgary’s start as a case of beating bad teams, but they haven’t all been against the league’s weak sisters.

Toronto and Saskatchewan both hold 4-2 records. Winnipeg, Hamilton and B.C. aren’t great teams, but all three are more of the under-achieving category than anything else.

Ultimately, the Stamps have won the games they should have won and more, and fans should be thankful for that.

However, that’s not to say all is rosy.

They’re still taking too many penalties, sputter offensively too often — especially in the second half of the last couple of games — and haven’t hit on all cylinders from start to finish in many games.

Expect those aspects of the game to be on-going targets for the squad.

The Stamps may not be racking up the points the way they did in the 1990s, but they’re coming up with the wins.

At this point, that’s all they can do.

Besides, if given the choice between a 15-3 record and bowing out in the West final or an 11-7 mark and winning a Grey Cup, or even 8-10, we know what fans will choose.

At least this team appears capable of winning the November classic.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

Five Stamps storylines to watch: 1. Joff-starting the offence: Two-time rushing champion Joffrey Reynolds is on pace for nearly 1,350 yards, but is waiting to string some dominating performances together. Reynolds has 75 carries, compared to 100 for Cory Boyd of Toronto. Watch for No. 21 to be used more often in the coming weeks. 2. The Tsoumpas factor: The return of offensive guard Dimitri Tsoumpas could be the most pleasant surprise of the season. The Stamps figured they had lost the 24-year-old to the NFL, but he’s back with the team and solidifies an offensive line that has been very good to date. 3. Dominating defence: Calgary has surrendered the fewest first downs, fewest yards of net offence, fewest average yards per rush against and — most importantly — fewest points. If defence wins championships, things may bode well for this crew. 4. Hank’s big season: Quarterback Henry Burris is on-pace to tie his career-best of 39 touchdowns. The downfall has been the nine interceptions he’s tossed, a few of them in the endzone. The return of veteran pass- catchers Ken-Yon Rambo and Ryan Thelwell will help, as will more time with the likes of P.K. Sam, Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin. 5. Those are Special Teams: Other than a few hiccups, the special teams have been good. Returner Deon Murphy leads the league in combined yards and kickoff returns, rookie kicker Rob Maver has done a great job, going 15-of-16, and punter Burke Dales has added more finesse to his repertoire.

Videos

Photos