Red alert!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

CALGARY -- Got the feeling that you've been to this movie before?

You have. Eighteen months ago.

There would have been no Red Mile, no flamesgirls.com, no seventh game of the Stanley Cup final for Calgary if it had not been for Edmonton.

Now, Edmonton appears to be in the process of doing the same for Calgary again, this time in football.

Edmonton has clearly gone from ABC territory to a CBC team, from 'Anybody But Calgary' to 'Can't Beat Calgary.' Remember when Calgary fans and media used to get the heebie-jeebies about games against Edmonton teams, a condition they'd transfer to their teams?

How did this get all turned around?

Remember the last hockey season?

The Flames took 11 of 12 possible points from the Oilers. Calgary finished five points ahead of Edmonton and in the playoffs, while the Oilers missed the playoffs and watched the Flames come oh so close to capturing the Stanley Cup.

Flames' Darryl Sutter has a coaching record of 9-1-1-1 going against Oiler coach Craig MacTavish.

"There are some of the same tracks laid, aren't there?" said Sutter on the phone from Phoenix.

Sutter preached a philosophy of win-the-games-against-Edmonton-and-everything-will-work-out-well.

The Flames won the first two against Edmonton this year and because of those two wins are ahead of the Oilers in the standings again.

But right now the Stampeders are the story. They've smoked the Esks 81-39 in the last 10 quarters.

"There are some interesting parallels being drawn," added Sutter.

The Stampeders were going nowhere when they went back to their dressing room down 20-1 at half time on Labour Day. They'd only won four of their first 10 games, which was the total of the games they'd won all of the previous season when they were last in the league. They hadn't made the playoffs in four years.

Suddenly people have noticed. The Stampeders have won six of their last eight against the Eskimos.

ON THE OTHER SIDE

Sutter says it's fun living on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line right now. He grew up in Viking, which is on the northern side.

"Funny watching games now. We were Eskimo fans growing up. But you go to Calgary and you have to hate Edmonton. That's kinda the deal. Unless you are a Saskatchewan guy. It's OK, then, to cheer for Saskatchewan. But it doesn't work that way if you move south."

Former Calgary Stampeders coach Wally Buono, whose B.C. Lions will play the winner next week in the Western Final, said the whole Edmonton-Calgary thing has been a study.

"When I started out, that was one of the biggest challenges," he said of not just getting his Stampeders to believe they could beat the Eskimos, but convincing Calgary they could beat Edmonton.

"There was a mindset in Calgary. It was like if you played Edmonton and were able to compete, hey, that was pretty good. It was foreign that you should think that you could win. And even when we did win that first Western Final in 1991 and the Grey Cup the following year, it was like, 'Yeah, but you lost on Labour Day.' It was a hard, hard mindset to get over. Not just with the team. Not just with the town. It was with the media as much as anybody."

PLANNING THE PARADE

Media? They've already awarded the Grey Cup and are planning the parade.

Calgary has won six of the last seven. Only Calgary and Saskatchewan are going into the playoffs having won their last game. And Saskatchewan, coming off a three-game losing streak, won ugly. The B.C. Lions have lost all but one game since the Eskimos stopped their 11-0 start to the season.

"Who's got the goods to beat them out?" wrote Calgary Herald columnist George Johnson of the Stamps earlier this week.

"The Edmonton Eskimos? Not off what we've seen of the last 10 quarters contested between the two teams. No blessed way. They own the Eskimos. Body. Soul. And, most significantly, mind."

Someone in the Edmonton media should probably answer that back with something smart and sassy.

I got nuthin'.


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