Stamps wants to reclaim West

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:02 AM ET

EDMONTON - The last time the B.C. Lions were at Commonwealth Stadium, they handed the Edmonton Eskimos their worst loss of the season on the way to turning a 1-7 start to the 2011 season into a Grey Cup championship.

The Lions won just their second game of 2011 with a 36-1 thrashing of the Eskimos, who kicked off the season 5-0 before suffering their third consecutive loss on that fateful Aug. 19.

B.C. went on to win seven in a row and 10 of the next 11 games, including a West Division final over Edmonton and their own Grey Cup final that they hosted.

And it all began with their last visit to Commonwealth Stadium, where the Lions came in as the worst but went on to become first.

"That left a bitter taste in our mouth last year," Eskimos veteran slotback Fred Stamps said of a 40-23 loss to the Lions that ended Edmonton's season short of the Grey Cup. "We started off their 10-0 streak or whatever.

"We can't take anything away from B.C., they're a good team. They have a lot of good guys over there, a lot of playmakers. They're the champs."

But Thursday's game has less to do about the defending champions than it does about themselves.

"It's about us. It's about the Edmonton Eskimos and how efficient we are," head coach Kavis Reed said. "Yes, the B.C. Lions are the opposition tomorrow and we're not looking past the fact that they're a very good football team, but truly it's about our execution.

"That's the main focus, is how we're going to perform under the lights with our starting unit — for the most part — out there."

Which will include Stamps this time, after he and the majority of his fellow starters sat out last week's exhibition game in Calgary.

Now it's their turn to reclaim Commonwealth Stadium as their territory, after seeing it taken by the Lions last year.

"Reclaim the West," Stamps corrected, thinking outside the gridiron. "They knocked us out of the playoffs last year, so this year we'll put 2011 behind us.

"Starting (Thursday), that's when our season starts."

OFF THE CUFF: Patrick Kabongo found himself in handcuffs while preparing for his first return to Edmonton after getting released by the Eskimos in the off-season.

The former Green and Gold guard wound up on with the B.C. Lions after a pair of offensive linemen went down in their training camp in Kamloops.

But it soon became apparent that the change in scenery did nothing to help with the penalty problems Kabongo tended to get into when is comes to holding opposing defenders.

So his new coaches decided to go with some unconventional methods to break him of bad habits.

"We used elastic last year to keep his hands inside," one Eskimos coach said, grinning. "It won't work."

DEFENSIVE WHINE: The Edmonton Eskimos were publicly called out last season by the Lions defensive line for playing dirty.

While the comment came directly from former Lions tackle Aaron Hunt, who is now with the Montreal Alouettes, Reed said he doesn't want his offensive line thinking about any of those type of mind games.

"Don't get involved with the antics, just play football," Reed said. "Let the dancing and all that stuff take care of itself on the other side of the ball."

As for the Eskimos D-line, starting rush ends Julius Williams and Marcus Howard are not expected to dress Thursday.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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