The 100th edition of the world-famous Calgary Stampede gets under way this week and, as a result, the Calgary Stampeders embark on their familiar two-game road
swing as McMahon Stadium becomes a camping ground for visiting tour groups.
Calgary will travel first to Toronto to take on the Argos on Saturday before moving on to Montreal five days later to play the Alouettes. It's the seventh time in eight years (since 2005) Calgary has made this two-game road trip, with 2009 being the exception, and the Stamps sport a 6-6 record overall in the 12 games.
Calgary is 4-2 in the first games of the trip (only once was it an Eastern team, Hamilton in 2010) and 2-4 in the second games (all six of them Eastern opponents).
The West Division came out on top in Week 1 with all four Western teams defeating Eastern opponents. West teams went a combined 18-14 against the East in 2011.
Calgary (1-0) made sure of the perfect record with a 38-10 drubbing of the visiting Alouettes, running Calgary’s streak to three straight home wins over the Als. It was the most points scored by the Stamps in a season opener since 2000 when they beat Edmonton 44-22 and it ran their opening-day record to 5-2 in the seven most recent openers.
The Argos (0-1) were beaten by the Eskimos in Edmonton 19-15, dropping their opening game record to 3-2 over the past five seasons with all five of those games coming on the road. The Argos have a 1-4 record in home-openers since 2007, however their only win in that span was a 27-24 victory over Calgary in 2010.
Calgary was winless against the Boatmen in 2011, losing 23-21 at home in Week 1 and 31-29 in Week 16. The Stampeders are 2-3 in the past five games played at Rogers Centre, with the three most recent games being decided by a total of eight points. Toronto won 23-21 in 2011 and 27-24 in 2010 while the Stamps won 23-20 in 2009.
Calgary was 6-3 on the road in 2011 and the Stamps are an impressive 22-14 (a .611 winning percentage) away from McMahon under coach John Hufnagel. The Stamps have also been very good against Eastern teams under Hufnagel, racking up 22 wins to only 10 losses since 2008 (a .688 winning percentage) and posting a 5-3 record in 2011.
The Stampeders’ first road game of the year will start at 1 p.m. MDT on Saturday, July 7 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. On television, the game will be broadcast on TSN and on RDS2 and, on radio, the game can be heard on QR77 (AM 770 on the radio dial and www.qr77.com on the Internet).
The CFL is once again partnered with SIRIUS Satellite Radio and the game can be heard on Channel 157 for Sirius Satellite subscribers and channel 160 for XM subscribers. For fans in the U.S., the CFL will be webcast on ESPN3 so Stamps fans there can find it at www.espn.go.com.
The game can also be seen the next day at www.tsn.ca on its video-on-demand page.
Calgary's offence was in mid-season form against the Alouettes as it scored 38 points and four touchdowns while rolling up 453 total yards. Calgary scored 38 points or more three times in 2011, had 400 yards or more eight times and scored four or more majors six times.
Calgary also topped both season highs from a year ago in first downs (31) and time of possession (35:14). Calgary's only blemish on offence was four turnovers. Against the Argos in 2011, Calgary averaged 25 points and 447.5 yards of offence per game and scored a total of four TDs.
In Week 1, QB Drew Tate ran his regular-season record as a starter to 4-0 as he completed 71.4 per cent of his passes for 299 yards and one touchdown. Tate leaned on wily veteran SB Nik Lewis, who led the team with 12 catches for 105 yards and a spectacular diving touchdown. Lewis is second all-time on the Stampeders in receiving yards with more than 9,300 career yards. Tt was his 26th career 100-yard game and 141st straight game with at least one reception.
WR Romby Bryant was second on the team with four receptions for 60 yards while newcomer SB Chris Bauman was third with 56 receiving yards.
RB Jon Cornish also picked up where he left off last year, rushing for a team-high 86 yards on 18 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Cornish rushed for more than 80 yards four times in the last seven games of 2011. The Calgary running back was named the CFL's top Canadian for Week 1. The Stamps won weekly awards 12 times last season and Cornish captured four of them (three top Canadians and one top offensive player).
Calgary's defence was also firing on all cylinders to open the season, allowing just 10 points against the top-rated offence from a year ago.
The 10 points allowed were the fewest allowed in a season-opener since 2007 (nine points in a win over Hamilton) and that total, along with the 208 yards of offence allowed, was better than any game last season except for the 40-3 win over the Riders in Week 14 at home.
Montreal managed only 11 first downs, turned the ball over three times and had the ball on offence for only 24:46 seconds. Calgary held 2011 CFL rushing leader Brandon Whitaker to just 43 rushing yards and the total of 39 rushing yards allowed by Calgary was lower than any game in 2011.
Toronto averaged 27.5 points and 317 yards of offence against Calgary in 2011 and scored five touchdowns.
Calgary's defensive leaders in Week 1 were rookie CB Fred Bennett with four tackles and DE Charleston Hughes with one sack. Rookie S Keenan MacDougall scooped up a fumble forced by MLB Juwan Simpson and ran it back 63 yards for a touchdown in his CFL debut.
DB Quincy Butler had two tackles, two pass knockdowns and one interception while last year's team leader on defence, Brandon Smith, had his first interception of the season.
THE SPECIAL TEAMS
Calgary also got good performances from the teams in the win with all phases of the unit showing up to play.
DE Ken Pettway led the way with four special-teams tackles followed by LB Akwasi Antwi, who had three. Antwi led the special-teams unit with 17 tackles last season, placing him sixth in the CFL.
P Rob Maver got his punting career off to an impressive start with an average of 48.8 yard per punt on four punts (Calgary led the league in punting average last season at 47.2 yards per punt) while K Rene Paredes scored 14 points and was three-for-three in field-goal attempts on the night.
KR Larry Taylor had 132 yards on returns including a long punt return of 38 yards and a long kickoff return of 31 yards. Montreal did total 182 yards on returns but that came on 10 total returns. Calgary allowed only 19.5 yards on kickoff returns, an improvement on last year's season average of 21.1 yards.
Toronto averaged 12.5 yards on punt returns and 24.5 yards on kickoff returns against Calgary in the two games played last season including a long kickoff return of 56 yards by Chad Owens.
Toronto finished last in the East in 2011 and, as a result, there have been some major changes to an Argos team made by the general manager — former Stampeder head coach and GM Jim Barker.
The Argos have a new head coach in former Montreal offensive coordinator and ex-Stamps quarterback Scott Milanovich, a new defensive coordinator in former Calgary co-ordinator Chris Jones and a new quarterback in Ricky Ray.
Ray (#15) should be no stranger to Stamps fans after spending nine seasons with the Eskimos and leaving that franchise as its all-time leading passer (40,531 yards, ninth all-time in CFL history). Ray averaged 235 yards per game against Calgary last season in three games (with four TD passes) and had 298 yards and one passing major in his Argos debut last week.
Ray has a decent set of receivers to throw to including former Eskimos teammate Jason Barnes (#81, 50 catches for 869 yards and seven TDs in 2011), SB Andre Durie (#32, 54 catches for 665 yards and four majors) and SB Chad Owens (#2, 70 grabs for 722 yards).
RB Cory Boyd (#3) is a two-time 1,000-yard rusher who had 248 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the two games against the Stamps last season.
On defence, the Argos have only four returning starters — DE Rickey Foley (#95, six sacks, 69 tackles in 2011), DE Ronald Flemons (#99, three sacks), DT Kevin Huntley (#94, six sacks, Eastern All-Star), and S Jordan Younger (#26).
S Willie Pile (retired), DB Lin-J Shell (BC Lions) and all-star Byron Parker (also to the Leos) all are gone while a couple of ex-Stampeders have been signed to fill the gaps. LB Robert McCune (#45) and LB Brandon Issac (#28) are both part of a revamped linebacking corps that also features Ejiro Kuale (#5).
Chad Owens is dangerous on returns as well, in 2011 becoming the first player in CFL history to record back-to-back seasons of more than 3,000 yards in combined yards while also scoring two return majors.
THE OTHER GAMES
The league has another Friday Night Football doubleheader scheduled for Week 2. Winnipeg (0-1) will look to keep the Alouettes winless as the Blue Bombers make the trip to Montreal (0-1) followed by a battle of the cats as the Lions (1-0) play host to the Tiger-Cats (0-1) in the late game.
An early Western showdown is on tap Sunday night with Saskatchewan (1-0) looking to stay undefeated with a win over visiting Edmonton (1-0).
Calgary will stay East for the second game of their road trip, playing in Montreal on a quick turnaround. The game is on Thursday, July 12 at 5:30 p.m. MDT. Calgary beat Montreal at home 38-10 in Week 1 and also won the game played in Montreal last season by a 32-27 score.
— Mike Hardiman
|Upcoming Games||View full schedule|
|Thu 20/06/13||Calgary||Saskatchewan||Thu 8:00 pm MDT|
|Fri 28/06/13||BC||Calgary||Fri 8:00 pm MDT|
|Fri 05/07/13||Calgary||Saskatchewan||Fri 7:00 pm MDT|
|Fri 12/07/13||Calgary||Montreal||Fri 5:30 pm MDT|
|Sat 20/07/13||Montreal||Calgary||Sat 5:00 pm MDT|