Call off the search party. The real Calgary Stampeders have been found.
Maybe it just because their 2010 whipping boys, the Edmonton Eskimos, were on the other end, but the Stamps woke from a training camp-long slumber Friday night.
Looking polished and dangerous, the starting offence came out flying for the Stamps in exhibition tuneup No. 2, routing the Eskimos for 27 first-half points and holding on for a 37-22 victory at Commonwealth Stadium.
Henry Burris threw deep touchdown passes to Romby Bryant and Ken-Yon Rambo, while Joffrey Reynolds capped off a long drive with a major.
The Stamps' starting offence played pitch and catch with little resistance from the Eskimos top defensive players.
The only thing that went wrong was quarterback Drew Tate going off late in the fourth quarter with his left arm held closely. Tate had two Eskimos defenders land on him after he was scrambling away from pressure.
If Tate is injured for any length of time, the Stamps will need some quarterback help as Brad Sinopoli is the only other pivot on the roster.
There won’t be too many tough decisions on starters when it comes to finalizing the roster Saturday. The CFL 46-man rosters must be set by 2 p.m.
Now the July 1 season-opener can’t come soon enough.
In 2010, the Stamps beat the Eskimos by scores of 56-15, 52-5 and 36-20 in an epic domination.
When the regulars were on the field, it looked like more of the same Friday night.
For a moment, it appeared the Stamps actually were off to a terrible start.
Eskimos defender Will Harris picked up the ball after it was ripped from Reynolds at the bottom of a pile. Harris went into the endzone on what was ruled a touchdown.
Even in pre-season, Stamps head coach John Hufnagel had to throw the challenge flag and get it overturned.
Right after that, Burris threw a perfect rainbow to Bryant behind coverage for a 63-yard strike.
The defence got off the field on a two-and-out, then the Stamps took more than seven minutes off the clock with a 15-play, 77-yard drive capped by Reynolds’ TD.
The Eskimos special teams fouled up, as Taylor Inglis dribbled a snap to punter Derek Schiavone, who had no chance but to absorb a sack from Eric Fraser and Daren Stone.
Burris then sent another gorgeous pass to Rambo on a corner route.
Rambo spiked the ball so hard that it flew into the hot tub next to the field. Talk about making a splash.
Burris left in the third quarter after going 15-of-21 passing for 197 yards and no interceptions. The reigning CFL most outstanding player is ready for his seventh season as Calgary’s leader.
LaMarcus Coker made the biggest impression of the newcomers, as he blasted through the Eskimos defence for a 41-yard touchdown scamper near the end of the third quarter.
On defence, the expected starting lineup played well into the second half and performed well, although they allowed touchdown drives that ended in passes to Fred Stamps and Jason Barnes.
When Kerry Joseph threw a touchdown bomb to Ray Fisher, it was over the coverage of rookie Marcus Jemison.
Overall, the Stamps looked more like they did as the CFL’s best regular season team in 2010 than the one that stumbled through the first part of 2011 training camp.