Tough takes it in Esks-Stamps rematch

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:05 PM ET

EDMONTON - The element of surprise is gone -- the Calgary Stampeders need only look at their Labour Day whip marks to know that Edmonton shouldn't be taken lightly.

The elements of anger and desperation will no longer be pacing Edmonton's sideline, either -- those helpful motivators changed teams in the wake of Monday's massacre.

Home-field advantage? Calgary has to be ready for the reception, given Commonwealth Stadium won't be booing them any louder than McMahon Stadium just did.

In short, there will be no secret ingredients, no rousing intangibles, that Edmonton can employ in its efforts to sweep the Stampeders on Friday.

Nope. It'll be like every Labour Day rematch: toughest win of the year. Toughest team wins.

"The hardest thing about pulling off a sweep is that we're all professionals, we're all men," said receiver Adarius Bowman. "And I know that, being a man, you always want to come back and get the person that got you. You can call it a revenge thing, but I think it's just a competition thing.

"If I was putting myself on the other side and a team had beaten us twice, then this third one would be really, really ... it would almost be like a must-win.

"We know that as a team, we know what Calgary is going to be feeling."

They'll be feeling the same way on Friday that the Eskimos felt on Monday.

It'll be Edmonton's job to get themselves as fired up as the visitors, which won't be easy given all the crud they've had to eat in Calgary this week.

"We have to keep the intensity up," said lineman Marcus Howard. "The same intensity we came out with on Monday, we have to come back with it on Friday. Even though we have the tie-breaker, this is still a big game, this can put us where we really need to be."

Alone in first, with a leg up on home-field advantage in the Western Final. The Stamps are also well aware of what's at stake, and are determined not to let a third chance to beat Edmonton slip them by.

"In our case, it will be a gigantic task because Calgary is such a good team," said Eskimos coach Kavis Reed, who has a pretty good one himself, but knows that talent and potential aren't enough in this series.

"I've learned in this business that you're only as good as your last game. You can be 11-1 and you're garbage because you lost that last game."

It's the Stamps who've been rooming with Oscar the Grouch since Labour Day, so they'll be the ones with the added motivation to go with a pretty solid team.

"Calgary didn't play their best and it still wasn't over till late in the game," said Reed. "They're going to come out with their guns blazing."

With no time to make any significant adjustments between games -- the teams essentially get one full practice -- the Friday rematch is never about Xs and Os, but rather blood and guts.

"They might have a few wrinkles, maybe 10 new plays, but I don't think it's going to be a huge change," said Bowman. "The Friday game is about heart, whoever plays the hardest is going to win this game."

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