Two very cranky crews

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

According to Prof. Wally Buono, the Calgary Stampeders were supposed to arrive in town yesterday a very self-satisfied squad and the Eskimos would be found to be an exceptionally growly group.

"I think the losing team of the Labour Day Classic in Calgary has a real advantage in the Friday game in Edmonton," said the former Stampeder coach.

"So much is made of the Labour Day game in Calgary that the winning team goes into the Friday game in Edmonton too satisfied, too often. And the losing team, it's always guaranteed, goes into that game growly. In the game of football, you've got to be growly."

SELF-SATISFIED

With that in mind, the idea was to determine just how self-satisified the Stampeders are after winning the Labour Day Classic and exactly how growly the Eskimos might be.

First, let's deal with the Stampeders who have only managed to win two out of nine of these Labour Day rematch games after winning the first one.

"Well, you're always a bit self-satisfied after winning the first game. But you don't want to go overboard considering we were tied for last place going into that game," said Joffrey Reynolds of the Stampeders.

"I know how we're going to be. We don't want to go back to the basement.

"I know how they're going to be, too. They missed the playoffs last year. They don't want to sink to that level again this year.

"We're trying to achieve some consistency. They're trying not to go into the tank."

Some might suggest with losses in four of the last five games, the Eskimos are already in the tank.

But Henry Burris, the Calgary quarterback who has had six straight 300-yard passing games, says the Stampeders inspiration should come from knowing their history.

"We haven't won both these games since 1998. That was the last time we also won all three games against Edmonton," he said of having two wins so far.

The Stampeders went on to win the Grey Cup that year, Burris points out.

If that history is too far back for some of them, Burris says they can look at last year.

"We got embarrassed here last year. Last year we got our butts kicked here. It was a sweet win for us in Calgary last year but they came back and won at home with extra sugar on it.

"If we lose this one, we're right back where we were.

SORE LOSERS

"Now is the time to make our move. If we win here, we win our stripes. We're both beat up but we're fresh from knowing each other and sore from playing each other."

The Eskimos say they're just sore losers.

"We're a little cranky, that's for sure," said Rahim Abdullah of returning to a city which is seriously steamed at the squad.

"We're 3-5-1. That's a pretty bad record. And we haven't even come close to playing our best.

"I feel like the defence keeps letting down the offence. A lot of games have been our fault. I think a lot of guys on defence are taking this personally right now.

"We're desperate right now. We're like an animal in a corner that has to fight its way out. Yeah, we're feeling growly. Not just the players. The coaches. Everybody."

Ricky Ray, the one guy keeping the Eskimos from being the Hamilton Tiger-Cats so far this season, says it makes sense why this series is split most years.

"When you lose, you are a little more self-critical. You have to concentrate on fixing things. That's what we've been doing."

A.J. Gass says it's tough to define.

"I don't know if the word is growly, but we're hungry. We're starving right now. I don't know how you determine the hunger of this group right now. It's immeasurable," he said of the team which has produced 39-39, 21-20, 34-32 and 19-17 game scores at Commonwealth Stadium so far this season.

"We're playing for a lot of things in this game," said Gass.

"Pride. Respect. The playoffs."

He could have added another thing. Jobs.


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