Stampeders Keen on secondary success
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Keenan MacDougall. (Lyle Aspinall/QMI AGENCY)
CALGARY - Nothing could wipe the smile off Keenan MacDougall’s face Sunday.
Not even the mention of the first quarterback lining up on the opposite side in his CFL debut.
Sure, MacDougall and the rest of the Calgary Stampeders secondary do face living legend Anthony Calvillo in Week 1 — Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes at McMahon Stadium (5 p.m.) — but the rookie out of the University of Saskatchewan won’t have his spirits dampened.
MacDougall, who could play a starting role at safety after making the Stamps roster, was then asked what he was doing back in 1994, when Calvillo made his first CFL start.
“I was three,” MacDougall, 22, said with a laugh. “He has some experience. I have a few days to prepare for that.”
When the Stamps set their opening roster for the season Sunday, one significant name from the defence wasn’t on it.
Third-year safety Eric Fraser, who is expected to play a big role this campaign, was placed on the one-game injured list due to a concussion suffered Friday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Whether or not MacDougall is the starter in Week 1, the Stamps will put at least one newcomer into the secondary to face Calvillo.
Either MacDougall, fellow rookie Chris Randle or sophomore Demetrice Morley will line up at safety, and either Randle or Morley will man the coverage linebacker position.
Morley has worked at the short-side ’backer spot all camp, with Randle backing him up.
The Stamps have a couple of days to figure out how they will manage things since Monday is an off-day for the players.
“There are all kinds of possibilities and ways we can go with,” Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel said. “We have a few days before we need to play a game. We will figure out the best route to go.”
It appears there will be two rookies starting in the secondary against the Alouettes.
Fred Bennett made the roster as a cornerback, and the South Carolina product is expected to man the wide-side position opposite veteran corner Keon Raymond. Bennett made a splash in the first pre-season game by making three interceptions, although one was called back due to penalty.
Randle also worked his way on the team due to solid play in the pre-season, and Hufnagel is confident the Utah State talent will perform wherever he lines up.
“Chris has shown he’s a football player,” Hufnagel said of Randle. “In the first game, when D-Mo couldn’t play, he performed very well.
“He didn’t look out of place and has a nose for the ball. He’s aggressive, and he’s a good special teams player. He’s versatile.”
The inclusion of MacDougall to the active roster is good news to the Stampeders scouting department.
The team took the Saskatoon native with its third-round pick this year — 15th overall — after he didn’t play at all in the CIS last season due to a knee injury.
The 21-year-old admits it was a nerve-wracking Saturday waiting to find out, but he’s pleased as punch to stick around Calgary.
“It was no news is good news,” MacDougall added. “That’s how the day went.”
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby