August 31, 2012
Stampeders' Mace welcomes Labour Day return
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
Corey Mace gets to celebrate an anniversary on Monday, but that’s not why he’s excited.
Two years ago during the Labour Day Classic, the Canadian defensive tackle made his Calgary Stampeders debut in a 52-5 drubbing of the Edmonton Eskimos.
A year ago, all Mace could do was watch as the Stamps got thumped 35-7 in the annual holiday hookup.
So now that he’s fully recovered from the ruptured Achilles that kept him out of the final 17 games plus playoffs in 2011, Mace can’t wait to suit up on Monday.
“The fans are more in-tuned with this game,” said Mace, who arrived with the Stamps two years ago from the NFL.
“I didn’t quite understand the Labour Day Classic but I felt it when I went out there.
“Last year, I knew all about it and it was hard to be out not being able to play. I was on the sidelines yelling but this will be better. I’m excited for this.”
With defensive end Chris McCoy going down with a knee injury last week against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Stamps will be shuffling their defensive line.
Kenny Pettway will start in McCoy’s place, while Junior Turner will return after missing the past five games with a variety of leg issues.
McCoy was second on the team with three sacks, so his production will need to be picked up, but Mace feels the front four will continue to get pressure on the quarterback due to the chemistry they’ve built.
“Even during the game, the guys we dress rotate,” Mace said. “We’re all comfortable with each other during the week. We’ve been jelling together pretty well lately.”
Rick Campbell grew up as an Eskimo but being on the other side of the Labour Day rivalry is old hat now.
As the son of legendary Eskimos head coach, GM and president Hugh Campbell, Rick was always rooting for Edmonton on the first Monday of September.
Two years ago, as the Stampeders running backs coach, Campbell had his first taste of being part of the Calgary side.
In 2011, he was back in Edmonton, but he returned to the Stamps this season to take over their defence.
The feeling is quite as weird now.
“My dad will always be an Eskimo,” Campbell said. “That’s where he spent a big chunk of his life. He’s retired now and he’s stepped away from it.
“He’s an Eskimo fan at heart and wants that organization to do well. He’s also hoping his kids always have a paycheque, so he’s hoping we do well too.”
Stamps DL Justin Phillips (charley horse) returned to practice on Friday and should be able to suit up against the Eskimos. Phillips missed Thursday’s session after getting injured Wednesday … Good tickets are still available for the Classic. As of Friday afternoon, 29,000 tickets were sold, well below the capacity of 35,650.
On Twitter @SUNIanBusby