WINNIPEG — They are described as relentless, and they don’t know the meaning of quit, so this alone should scare the Calgary Stampeders.
When the Stamps finish out the 2010 regular season Friday night against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Canad Inn Stadium (6 p.m., TSN), their offence is focused on the defensive-end pair of Phillip Hunt and Odell Willis.
Between them, they have 27 sacks this season. Countless other times, they’ve smacked the quarterback, both legally and illegally.
Although the main goal of this outing is to win and head into the playoffs on a high note, the Stamps have to make sure pivot Henry Burris stays healthy.
Burris will start and play probably until halftime of the meaningless game, but if Willis and Hunt are on fire, maybe he should take a seat.
“We will play down after down,” said Willis, who has 11 sacks. “I hope he has his track shoes on, because we are coming.
“They should be worried, but at the same time, we’re not going out to hurt anybody. We want to finish strong. If he’s in the way, we’re going to make plays on him.”
Hunt, who is the Bombers nominee for top defensive player, is having a great season with 16 sacks.
“We’re going after him, and hopefully, he makes bad decisions on the run,” Hunt said. “Burris is our No.-1 target. If we continue the relentless pass rush, we should slow him down a bit.”
Burris is quite familiar with Willis, who spent the first half of 2009 with the Stamps before being sent over to Winnipeg in the Romby Bryant-Arjei Franklin trade.
The Stamps QB is well aware Willis doesn’t know the meaning of stop at the whistle. Last week, he took five penalties for 65 yards, including a karate chop to the neck of Eskimos pivot Jared Zabransky as he was sliding to finish a run.
“He will play hard from start to finish,” Burris said. “He’s a good player, and when you have a guy with a high motor, that’s some of the consequences that come with it.
“He wreaks more havoc against opponents than he does against his own team (with penalties). We should expect his best.”
There are a few milestones the Stamps would still like to collect from this game.
Burris needs just two passing touchdowns for a career-high 39 and just 110 yards to top 5,000 for the second time in his career. His 66.0 completion percentage is already a career high if he can maintain it.
The Stamps are the top rushing team in the CFL, and if the B.C. Lions can record four sacks against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while Calgary allows none, they would have the fewest sacks allowed as well.
For an offensive line that had several question marks coming into the season, it’s a goal of theirs to achieve.
“We keep our eyes on it,” said left tackle Ben Archibald. “The rushing numbers and fewest sacks are about all we have to hold onto. It means something to us.”
Much like the finish to 2008, when they also hosted the West final, the Stamps want to stay sharp heading into a bye week.
With a win, the Stamps would equal that season’s win total of 13, which would guarantee at least a tie for the best in the CFL.
The message from head coach John Hufnagel all week was to play for a win. If they do, they would finish with three victories in their final four outings — a mild hot streak.
“Huf touched on what type of team are we?” Burris said. “Are we a team are that plays with pride in terms of doing what it takes every time we step on the field. Do we get better?
“That was the attitude we had in 2008 when we won the Grey Cup. This is a challenge for us. I hope I can play a good amount of the game. I’m going to play hard until I’m asked to come off the field.”