Stamps feel no pity for Eskimos

Calgary Stampeders' Ryan Thelwell celebrates his winning touchdown against the BC Lions with...

Calgary Stampeders' Ryan Thelwell celebrates his winning touchdown against the BC Lions with teammate Arjei Franklin. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:32 PM ET

They’re enduring their worst start since 1965, already fired the GM and limp into McMahon Stadium at 1-5.

But there isn’t a single Calgary Stampeders player who will offer much sympathy for the Edmonton Eskimos’ plight.

The Eskimos had a good run — some 34 straight years making the CFL playoffs — but the Stamps have taken the balance of power in the Battle of Alberta.

It’s not just in hockey. Let’s not forget the Edmonton Oilers finished last season 30th in the NHL.

“They keep preaching about being the City of Champions,” said Stamps safety Wes Lysack. “They have to change that slogan sometime soon. I will let you guys (in the media) figure out what it should be.”

The media pretty much had it wrong when predicting the CFL standings for 2010.

The Eskimos were plenty of pundits’ sexy pick to represent the West Division in the Grey Cup game at Commonwealth Stadium.

With receiver Kelly Campbell returning from the NFL and head coach Richie Hall taking over the defence, the Eskimos looked to have all the pieces in place for a contending team.

It fell apart early for the Esks, thanks to dropped passes and untimely turnovers. The implosion seems to be never-ending.

Now at 1-5, they come into Sunday’s meeting (6 p.m., TSN) desperately needing to make up some ground against the Stamps (5-1).

If the Eskimos don’t solve the Stamps at least a couple of times in the next five weeks, they can forget catching their rivals this season.

The Stamps were picked by some (most notably TSN’s Milt Stegall) to even miss the playoffs. No one thought the revamped offensive line would hold up with the departure of three starters.

So with a third of the season gone and the Eskimos heading into Week 7 in a last-place tie with the B.C. Lions, the Stamps can’t help but feel vindicated.

“I’m not upset at all,” said Stamps receiver Nik Lewis when asked how he feels about Edmonton.

“In this league, playoff cheques matter. The bigger lead we have now gives us more comfort. Our goal is to be No. 1 and set the standard.”

Although the Stampeders have built a bigger rivalry with the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the past few years, there is still some sizzle to the Battle of Alberta.

“Hearing about the rivalry and coming to Alberta, the hate starts to grow,” said Stamps defensive back Dwight Anderson, who has played in Calgary since 2008.

“At the end of the day, there are guys you are cool with but, between the lines, it’s

smashmouth.

“I wish all the teams in the West were 1-5 except for us. When it comes to this division, I have no sympathy for them.

“When you are in conference with someone, you want them to do badly. I don’t care what happens to them as long as they are behind us.”

Nothing would make the Stamps happier than to finish off this next stretch of struggling West Division opponents and get set to face the Riders Sept. 17 in Regina at 9-1.

After their bye next week, they’ll face the Lions once and the Eskimos twice before their trip to Mosaic Stadium.

The Stamps haven’t started 9-1 since 1996.

The key to getting there will be the three meetings with the Eskimos.

“Let put those three in the bag,” Lewis said. “That’s what we want to do. We figured we get this stretch against all West teams, this is our chance to distance ourselves.

“There’s no better time than right now to do what we need to do. I take joy in knowing we have a good lead on them. It’s a third of the way through the season. We have to keep this going.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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