CALGARY - They strutted out of Swaggerville.
That’s something only the Calgary Stampeders can claim so far this season.
After Friday’s 45-35 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium, the Stamps split for the bye-week with a 5-2 record and a share of top shot in the CFL’s West Division standings.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, meanwhile, also have a week off after improving to a league-best 6-1 mark with Saturday’s 30-17 triumph over the B.C. Lions.
Stamps head coach John Hufnagel will be busy analyzing film during the bye-week, although he admitted he’ll also spend a bit of time fishing. If his team is fishing for compliments, a July 14 road win over the Blue Bombers wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
It’s not that it was Henry Burris’ best effort of the season, with the Stamps’ star signal-caller finishing 17-of-32 for 183 yards with a touchdown but losing a fumble.
It’s not that an inexperienced offensive line was outstanding against the Bombers’ relentless siege, surrendering four sacks — including two to former Stampeders defensive end Odell Willis, the CFL’s most feared quarterback-hunter so far this season and the self-proclaimed Mayor of Swaggerville — and not creating a ton of breathing room for ball-carriers Joffrey Reynolds and Jon Cornish.
And it’s not that the Stamps defence was dominant from start to finish, although it prevented the hosts from pulling away and produced game-changing plays, including a pick-six and a late fumble recovery by halfback Keon Raymond.
It’s simply that the Stamps found a way to win the ballgame — on the road — against a team that’s since established itself as the best of the bunch, at least for now.
If you can win in hostile territory during the regular season, chances are you won’t be spending too much time away from home once the playoffs kick off.
In an eight-team league, you can expect some results that don’t seem to add up.
Keep in mind that the Stamps suffered a season-opening loss to the Toronto Argonauts, a team that’s since lost six straight.
The Stamps have won four in a row on the road, registering a couple of wins over the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-6) in Regina and beating the Lions (1-6) in B.C. They’ve also topped the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-3) at McMahon Stadium, the same spot they were defeated by the Edmonton Eskimos (5-2).
There are stiff tests on the horizon.
The Stamps’ first assignment after the bye-week is an Aug. 27 matinee against the Montreal Alouettes (5-2), who have won back-to-back Grey Cup crowns and boast a quarterback who seems to be establishing a new league record every week.
Then it’s back-to-back battles against the Eskimos, starting with what’s shaping up to be the most memorable Labour Day Classic in recent memory. Sticking with tradition, the two teams will hook up again four days later at Commonwealth Stadium.
The term Swaggerville is already spoken for.
But if the Stamps are able to extend their current three-game winning streak against the Alouettes and ace their tests against the Eskimos, they’ll also be walking with a bit of sway in their stride.