Bad blood between Stamps, Esks

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 AM ET

The Labour Day home-and-home series between the Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Eskimos isn’t shaping up to be thrilling.

Not unless the Eskimos somehow become a CFL-calibre team between then and now.

What those games very well may have is some old-fashioned, Battle of Alberta nastiness.

Certainly if anybody remembers the bad blood spilled once Sunday night’s 56-15 thrashing the Stampeders handed their rivals was a certainty.

When all was said and done, it turns out the Eskimos had some fight in them, after all.

It just didn’t happen as much before the whistle as it did after it.

Then again, that’s what happens when one team posts its largest margin of victory against its biggest rival.

“It’s one of those games where’s there’s a lot of emotions,” said Stampeders defensive lineman Mike Labinjo. “It got heated with us having the score high. I know in the back of their minds, they’re going to be geared up and gassed up for the next one.

“It got out of hand, but it’s one of those games.”

Labinjo was right in the middle of the first set of fireworks.

With the score 47-15 and the Stamps booting a short kick — “It was a miss-kick,” head coach John Hufnagel stated firmly — Labinjo tangled with Edmonton receiver Andre Talbot.

Eskimos receiver Tremayne Kirkland was downed after making the catch when Labinjo and Talbot went over him.

“They were running that weird little offence play, so I was just trying to get to the ball,” Labinjo pleaded. “He fell over the guy and I thought it was done, and he got up and grabbed my facemask and pulled me down.

“I thought, ‘Well, if you want to pull me down, I’ll throw you back down.’ Then somebody came out of nowhere and punched me in the side of the face, and then all hell broke loose.”

Kirkland got to his feet and started swinging, which set off a melee that had all the Eskimos on the field amidst the Stampeders bench.

Even Edmonton head coach Richie Hall ran across the field to try and calm his troops.

Kirkland was ejected, while Labinjo and Talbot were both given unnecessary roughness penalties.

Labinjo admitted he lost his cool.

“I did. Once that guy clocked me, I lost it,” he said.

To prove it, the mixed martial arts fan could be seen doing his share of knee drops on Talbot.

“Yeah,” he said sheepishly. “When everything stopped, I was thinking, ‘I hope it doesn’t look as bad on film as it was on the field.’

“That’s the nature of the game.”

Maybe, but the bad blood flowed freely after.

Edmonton’s Kai Ellis cold-cocked Calary receiver Jabari Arthur with some chops to the head instead of tackling him. Calgary’s Miguel Robede was disqualified for rough play, although that brouhaha appeared to start when he was shoved in the back by Aaron Fiacconi and landed in the pile.

“You try and control it during the game, which is tough to do,” Hufnagel said of the bad penalties. “They know my feelings about that and it will be dealt with once we reconvene after the break.

“I’m going to have to take a better look on film. I do not want unnecessary roughness penalties. I do not want disqualifications. You have to draw the line, and it’s not what we’re about.”

Neither are the Eskimos, normally.

It’s just what happens when a struggling team has their lunch handed to them.

“I was in Hamilton and I know how it goes with a bad record,” said Calgary defensive back Dwight Anderson. “Guys don’t come to practice and say they will slack off. They come in and work hard. They showed they really wanted to win, but the little things aren’t working for them right now. The frustrations were building for them, but it was the heat of the moment.”

But what happens if the Eskimos return to Calgary Labour Day and are whooped again?

“I’m going to go home for this bye week, get my mind off football,” Eskimos linebacker Maurice Lloyd. “Hopefully when I get back, everybody’s mindset will be set, and that is no matter how you start, it’s how you finish.”

Or get finished.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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