No time to panic
By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
|Jon Cornish and the Calgary Stampeders couldn't break away from Rod Davis and the Montreal Alouettes in Thursday's game in Montreal. (Pierre-Paul Poulin/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - The standings don’t reflect near-misses.
Although you could argue the Calgary Stampeders could be — maybe should be — a 3-0 football team, the truth is they’re currently pulling up the rear in the CFL’s West Division after back-to-back drops on a two-game road-trip.
“It wasn’t in my plans to come home with two losses,” said Stamps head coach John Hufnagel. “One thing I like about this football team is that they are resilient. They do play hard. They have fought back from adversity, and right now, we are going through some adversity.
“I like the character that I’ve seen so far demonstrated by our football team. It’s still a long season. This next game is very important, because it’s the next game and we need to do what we can do to get back to our winning ways.”
That next game comes Thursday, when the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their throng of green-clad, grain-fed supporters invade McMahon Stadium (7 p.m., TSN, QR77).
With Saturday’s 23-20 triumph over the B.C. Lions at soon-to-be-replaced Mosaic Stadium, the Roughriders are atop the West Division with a flawless 3-0 record, while the defending champions are 2-1.
For all the fuss about their quarterbacking situation, made worse by GM Eric Tillman’s bizarre admission that he likely wouldn’t trade Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts if he could have a mulligan, the Edmonton Eskimos are coming off a 42-10 rout of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and are also 2-1.
And then there’s the Stamps, who looked almost unstoppable in their home-opener but have since suffered two gut-wrenching losses — three if you include the loss of starting quarterback Drew Tate to a dislocated left shoulder — on their recent nine-day road-swing.
Thanks to a record-setting day by return ace Larry Taylor, the Stamps were tied with the Argos with 1:08 left last weekend at Rogers Centre, only to watch Ray march his
new squad into range for a buzzer-beating, game-winning field goal.
Supposed-to-be backup quarterback Kevin Glenn and his Stamps teammates built a 12-point lead with 2:48 left during Thursday’s showdown in Montreal, but the Alouettes scored two touchdowns for a comeback win, with the game-winning major coming after Glenn was picked off deep in Calgary’s territory.
“Two very disappointing losses — you can’t sugar-coat that,” Hufnagel admitted during Saturday’s availability at McMahon Stadium.
“We had chances to win both games, and we came out on the short end of the stick.”
As Hufnagel pointed out, the Stamps pulled off a couple of late-game victories in the pre-season. He knows this team is capable of winning tight contests, even if they didn’t prove it in Toronto or Montreal.
There’s no panic yet, although a win over the undefeated Roughriders would certainly ease some of the worries among the McMahon Stadium supporters.
“I like this football team a lot. I really do,” Hufnagel said.
“We’re going through some adversity. We’ll fight through it, and we’ll continue to work hard to get better.”
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