CALGARY - Whatever happened to home, sweet home?
So far this season, the only road that’s been rough on the Calgary Stampeders has been Crowchild Trail, the main route to McMahon Stadium.
Heading into Saturday’s home showdown with the B.C. Lions (5 p.m., TSN, QR77), the Stamps are fighting to get back to even-par on their own turf.
“The bottom line is we’ve done a phenomenal job on the road, as far as having an undefeated record and finding ways to get victories,” said Stamps quarterback Henry Burris. “But we need to do the same thing here.”
The Stamps sit atop the West Division with a 7-3 record, but they’ve celebrated five of those wins away from home. Their last outing at McMahon Stadium was a 35-7 thumping from the Edmonton Eskimos on Labour Day.
The Lions (4-6) arrive on a three-game winning streak, including back-to-back triumphs over the struggling Toronto Argonauts. The boys from B.C. were the only visitors to taste victory at McMahon Stadium last regular season, doing it twice, but they’re looking to hand the Stamps their fourth home loss this summer.
“That’s something that we definitely need to work on. At home, our record isn’t what we’d like it to be,” admitted Stamps running back Joffrey Reynolds. “Especially if you’re striving to get that first-place seed in the playoffs, you want to get your home mojo going. That’s something we need to get back.”
Sticking with John Hufnagel’s stance, the Stamps will tell you Saturday’s clash against the Lions is the most important game because it’s the next one.
It’s more than that, though.
With just four more home dates on their regular-season slate, the Red & White are running out of time to turn their home field into a house of horrors for their out-of-town guests.
Dating back to Wally Buono’s stint as the head coach in Calgary, the Stamps have usually been a tough team to beat at McMahon Stadium.
Under Hufnagel, they’d never lost more than twice at home in one season.
That was, until this summer.
“That’s surprising because usually Calgary is very good at home. They’re usually very good in front of their fans,” said Buono, now in his ninth season as B.C.’s boss. “I’m not sure what their nemesis is that way. From our point of view, it all starts with the quarterback. He’s critical to their success. He’s critical in all that they do whether it’s run, play-action or throwing the ball downfield. We know that Henry is going to be on top of his game because he knows the value of the game.”
In Burris’ last appearance at McMahon Stadium, Calgary’s offence was booed off the field.
After Friday’s walkthrough, the Stamps signal-caller accepted responsibility for cranking up the noise during Saturday’s clash.
“We need to go out and establish momentum on our side, get our fans into, keep our fans in it,” Burris said. “And one thing I’m asking the fans is if B.C. makes a play, let’s make it hard for them now. It’s all about not only what happens on the field, but the fans giving the opposition heck, as well.
“To me, that’s what home is all about. That’s the type of atmosphere we, as a team, must help develop.”