Henry Burris returns to Calgary
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Hamilton Ticats quarterback Henry Burris, formerly the Calgary Stampeders pivot, chats with media during a Ticats walk-through practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Friday, October 19, 2012.(QMI Agency/LYLE ASPINALL)
CALGARY - Even being on opposite sides of the country, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders know at lot about each other.
In fact, the Stampeders don’t even need to be there in person to know what their next opponent is doing.
While watching Henry Burris and Co. on television this season, Stamps slotback Nik Lewis feels like he’s right there, running routes for his former quarterback.
“It’s funny. Since they run the same offence and have the same wording as we do, I can see his mouth moving and tell what plays are being called,” Lewis said. “I know where he’s going with the ball. It’s good to watch him play. I thought he came out very hot and played well. He’s continued to put up great numbers.”
Despite those great numbers, the Ticats (5-10) are in danger of getting eliminated from the playoff race.
But that is hardly the main storyline during Saturday’s meeting. It’s all about old faces in new places.
Along with Burris, who played seven years in Calgary before getting traded to the Ticats this off-season, there are six players and four coaches who have ties to the Stamps. The Stamps have a few former Ticats too, with Kevin Glenn facing his former team for the second time, among the five former Hamilton players who will suit against them.
Clearly though, this game will mostly be about Burris, and maybe that familiarity with their former pivot will help the Stampeders defence.
It looks like old times with Smilin’ Hank. He’s turning the ball over more than any QB in the league, but he’s also thrown more TD passes and yardage than anyone else.
Stamps fans have seen that movie before, and now they get to see him take another group on a rollercoaster ride.
Ticats head coach George Cortez, who was the Stamps offensive co-ordinator during the 2008 Grey Cup season, feels Burris is old hat at facing his former haunts.
“It’s not the first time he went back to play at a place where he played before,” Cortez said, referring to Burris’ many trips back to Regina while with the Stamps.
“Having had experience with that, I don’t see any difference in how he’s prepared. What goes on inside of you, nobody can judge that.
“They don’t know how the butterflies are flying around or what your mental makeup is. Only the person themselves can speak to that.”
Several Stamps players were witness to the abuse Burris took in Regina, and they don’t expect anything near the same at McMahon. The main difference here is he left in a trade and not as a free agent.
“It’ll be nothing,” Stamps running back Jon Cornish said. “When he goes to Saskatchewan, it’s a different response, but that’s because they are the way they are.
“He might get a little bit of heckling on the sidelines, but it won’t be like ‘Hen-ry!’ because I think Calgary fans are very respectful.”
The Ticats are used to former players going back to their longtime homes. It happened last year with Avon Cobourne going back to Montreal and again this season with Andy Fantuz returning to Regina.
Both veterans know how to manage the situation.
“Hank has some extra emotion, but as a team we’re here to win the game,” said Fantuz, who picked up a win over the Riders. “Henry being back, he wants to show them what they are missing.
“He was the most outstanding player and the Grey Cup MVP. He’s still a great player and he will show it again tomorrow.”
In meeting a large media scrum Friday, Burris was his usual gregarious self, complete with toothy smile and hearty laugh. But the words coming out his mouth showed how serious this situation is for the Ticats.
“If we don’t win this game, we’re not in the playoffs,” Burris said. “That’s the only motivation I need.
“This is our last gasp of air, right now. Hopefully, all the growing pains we’ve had this year and being new together … hopefully we’ve learned enough to get the job done.
“We just need one victory to get us going.”