CALGARY - The Calgary Stampeders can certainly learn something from the massive block Nik Lewis put on Adam Leonard.
Despite nothing on the line in the final two weeks of the season, the Red & White could use a dose of Lewis’ fire and intensity, always playing to the whistle even if he doesn’t have the ball.
With 26 days to kill before they host the West final, the Stamps will have to find ways to self-motivate.
As hard as it will be to manufacture a will to win for two meaningless games, the 11-5 Stamps will try to match the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday at McMahon Stadium.
The Stamps have lost four of six but clinched the West due to Saskatchewan losing in Edmonton, while the Ticats have won three straight.
“We do need 42 guys to play hard,” said Stamps quarterback Henry Burris.
“That’s the only way we’re going to make this thing happen. I’m happy we clinched, but there’s still a ticked off attitude in our locker-room.
“Even though we have the bye to the West final, the guys are upset about the poor performance. Losses help our team stay more focused. I would rather have to win these last two games before we feel satisfied going into the playoffs.”
The Stamps will finish out the season in Winnipeg the following Friday against a Blue Bombers team that is playing out the campaign with their fourth-string QB.
The Ticats still have plenty on the line, as they need a win to seal a home playoff date.
Over the past three weeks, the Ticats have outscored opponents 106-17. With the arrival of Stevie Baggs from the NFL, the Ticats have jumped ahead of the Stamps for the fewest points allowed in the CFL.
“They are playing some great football,” Lewis said. “The offence is putting up points and that defence is shutting people down. We have a great challenge ahead of us. I’m ready to accept that challenge.”
There are players focused on the team despite big things going on in their lives. Defensive back Dwight Anderson added to his family Sunday when son Kingston was born back in St. Louis.
He watched the birth through internet Skype instead of leaving the team. Getting ready for this game is too important.
“We have to go all out,” Anderson said. “Hamilton is hot right now. That’s the type of heat they want going into the playoffs. We have to slow it down and start our heat up.”
When the Stamps clinched the title with a game remaining in 2008, head coach John Hufnagel pulled some starters at halftime in the finale.
He won’t have the same approach unless the score dictates.
There are injuries to deal with. Defensive tackle Miguel Robede will be out Friday due to a concussion, while defensive back Brandon Smith (shin) and defensive tackle Corey Mace both missed practice Monday.
When it comes to the main ‘star’ positions, Hufnagel is planning on staying with his top guns.
“It’s quite simple,” Hufnagel said. “We’re going to prepare to win football games. We’re going to play to win football games. Nothing is going to change.
“We will do what we need to do in order to win games. If I have an opportunity to make some adjustments, I will do that.”
Lewis skipped the team drills in practice with a nagging hand injury but he doesn’t plan on taking any important plays off.
“I’ve already missed a game,” Lewis said. “I’ve worked hard too hard during the off-season to be sitting out games during the season.
“I’m ready to go. I have six months to rest and I want to make sure it’s a happy six months of rest. We are going out to win.”
The other 41 guys must have the same attitude, or else the losing skid will continue.