Stamps confident heading into semi vs. Eskimos

Esks' Prechae Rodriguez covers Stamps' Geoff Tisdale during the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary...

Esks' Prechae Rodriguez covers Stamps' Geoff Tisdale during the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders game at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Sept. 9, 2011. (QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 PM ET

The team they haven’t been able to beat in a playoff clash since 2006 — the Saskatchewan Roughriders — is out.

The team they weren’t able to beat this season — the Toronto Argonauts — is finished, too.

With those foes out of the picture, truth is the Calgary Stampeders weren’t too picky about their first-round playoff opponent.

“We’re one of the teams that has beat everybody that is in the playoffs,” Stamps defensive tackle DeVone Claybrooks said. “We know that we can beat everybody in the playoffs. As long as we take care of the little things, we’ll be fine.”

Despite finishing the regular season with three consecutive victories, including Saturday’s 30-24 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Stamps (11-7) settled for third spot in the CFL’s West Division and will travel to Commonwealth Stadium for Sunday’s semifinal tilt against the Edmonton Eskimos (11-7).

The B.C. Lions (11-7), who finalized the post-season setup with Saturday’s 43-1 shellacking of the Montreal Alouettes, will await the winner in the West Final.

On Sunday morning, several Stamps were available to discuss their first-round matchup with the provincial rival Eskimos, although you get the feeling they would’ve been saying the same things if they were preparing to face the Lions.

“That’s the mentality I think we’re at and we have to be at, especially at this time. We have to be ready to go against whoever, wherever, whenever,” Stamps starting quarterback Drew Tate said. “I think we just believe right now as a team. We’re capable of big things. We all know that. We all believe it, I think. It’s just a matter of doing it instead of talking about it.”

The reason the Stamps will hit the road for the playoffs is they didn’t win the tiebreaker against either of their remaining West Division foes.

In three regular-season meetings with the Eskimos, the Stamps had one win and two losses. It’s worth noting they were victorious in their latest meeting with their northern rivals, which also happened to be the only trip to Commonwealth Stadium.

The Stamps, however, aren’t looking back as far as their Sept. 9 win in the provincial capital.

With Tate at the controls, the Red & White have now won three in a row, including victories over the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Alouettes and East Division-leading Blue Bombers. They’re the only squad that rattled off three straight wins to finish the regular season.

“We’ve beat two of the top-ranked teams in the league, and we’ve been doing well. We’ve had a few mistakes, but for the most part, I think we’ve had positive experiences,” Stamps running back Jon Cornish said. “The last three games, we’ve had that consistency you need. And every game, it builds confidence if you can maintain that”

For their first-round opponents, the scary thing is the Stamps seem to have even more swagger when they’re on the road.

The Stamps finished with a league-best 6-3 mark away from McMahon Stadium. The Eskimos, meanwhile, posted a 6-3 record at their usual stomping grounds.

“We’re not afraid of anybody’s home field,” Claybrooks said. “We know that it’s all about us. As cliche as that sounds, we know that if we go and take care of business, we can beat anybody, any place, any time. That’s why it wasn’t like, ‘Oh my god, we’re not going to get a home playoff game.’ It was like, ‘OK, we’re starting in Edmonton.’ This is the start of our journey.”


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