Calgary Stampeders at Ottawa RedBlacks TD Place Stadium Friday, June 23 Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. MT Radio: News Talk 770, SiriusXM 167 TV: TSN, ESPN3
Back-to-back against the RedBlacks.
Talk about a great way to kick off a new season.
Week 1 of the 2017 campaign will see the Stampeders travel to Ottawa to face the RedBlacks on Friday in a matchup of the two participants from last year’s 104th Grey Cup.
Next Thursday night will see the Stampeders and RedBlacks go back at it at McMahon in Calgary’s home-opener.
“We’ve got to come with our best to beat these guys,” said head coach Dave Dickenson of Friday’s tilt. “(The) offensive line is going to have a huge challenge and I think our defence certainly wasn’t their best last time we played this group. They play fast, they’re a well-coached group over there and I would hope (we) are motivated to at least try to stop these guys to keep the game in hand a little bit. If they come out and get on us right away with a loud crowd, it’s going to be a tough night on us.”
Calgary, a squad that went 2-0 in pre-season play, will look to move above the .500 mark in games played at the home of the RedBlacks as they currently own a 1-1-1 record in the Nation’s Capital. Ottawa is 2-1 in their three season-openers since joining the league in 2014.
“I like an away game the first week,” said Dickenson. “I think it allows them to kind of get to know each other a little bit. This is a huge, huge challenge so there’s certainly nothing that’s going to be simple about this, but I like being on the road early in the season and allowing the guys to kind of bond a little bit and hopefully get some wins on the road.”
Among the list of Stamps players making their Red and White debuts will be defensive back and 2017 draft pick Tunde Adeleke, CFL veteran defensive lineman Bryan Hall and third-string quarterback Ricky Stanzi.
The off-season retirement of Henry Burris has paved the way for Trevor Harris to become the RedBlacks full-time starter under centre. His new targets in Dionte Spencer and Kenny Shaw, both formerly with the Argos, will fill the spots vacated by the departed Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams.
Respective head coaches Dickenson and Rick Campbell return to the sidelines along with their entire coaching staffs. Only one other club – the Edmonton Eskimos – has kept their entire unit intact.
In Week 3 last season, the Stampeders and host RedBlacks settled for a 26-26 tie. Alex Singleton forced a fumble committed by running back Nic Grigsby at the goal-line for the potential go-ahead touchdown. The teams then exchanged a pair of field goals in overtime resulting in Calgary’s first tie since a 2009 clash with Saskatchewan.
A Sept. 17 rematch then saw Calgary cruise to a 48-23 triumph at McMahon for their ninth consecutive win.
“This is the first game of the year and everyone is going to have fun and go after it,” Dickenson described. “It’s the start of a new season and it’s just a great time to be a football player. Hopefully you’re tired of camp and now you get something for real. Let’s go out there and do it.”