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June 2, 2018

GAME PREVIEW: BC @ CGY

BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders
McMahon Stadium
Friday, June 1
Kickoff: 7 p.m. MTN
Radio: 770 CHQR
TV: N/A

‘Is It June Yet?’

That’s been the question for fans and players alike who have been itching for Stamps football to return.

Well, the wait is over as the Red & White kick off the new campaign with a pre-season matchup against the BC Lions at McMahon Stadium tonight after weeks of battling it out in training camp.

“It’ll feel a little bit like being a kid the night before Christmas where you know you have a big day the next day,” said rookie quarterback Nick Arbuckle on Thursday. “There’s going to be a bit of nerves but those things go away after the first snap and you really just lock in after that.

“I’m just focused on my job and … my responsibilities to make sure I don’t make any mistakes.”

It’s a case of Déjà vu for the Stamps as they took on the Lions in pre-season action at McMahon on June 7 last year, with the Red and White coming on top 23-18.

The game is about evaluating talent with jobs up for grabs. But, like every time they take to the field, it’s also about coming out on top.

“I want to win. Especially being at home,” said coach Dave Dickenson. “Obviously we’re here to evaluate, first and foremost, with game time carrying a little more weight than training camp but at the same time we’re not out here just to run around, we’re here to play well.

“Ultimately I play to win.”

They’ll be plenty of playing time to go around as all five quarterbacks – Bo Levi Mitchell, Arbuckle, Ricky Stanzi, Larry Brhim and Tyler Rogers – will play in the tilt as the battle for the number two and three spots on the depth chart behind Mitchell continues.

It’s a similar situation in the backfield as the departures of Jerome Messam and Roy Finch in the off-season has left the door open for jobs to be earned, with Terry Williams, Don Jackson, Romar Morris, Rushel Shell and Atlee Simon scheduled to split the available reps.

“They sense that there is a game on the horizon and they are tired going up against each other,” Dickenson said. “Everyone should enjoy the games and it’s all about going out there and playing simple football.

“It’s a wide open battle but they just have to remember that the next play is the most important play. I know it’s cliché but you focus on that next play and do what you can to make the team.”

It’ll be a mixture of nerves and excitement for rookies and training camp invites such as Arbuckle, as they hope to make a memorable first impression in front of the hometown faithful.

End of the day, they know there’s a job to be done.

“It’s all about sticking to our systems and staying relaxed,” Arbuckle said. “You don’t want to be too cute or force plays and do too much. It’s a different game than American football and you have to respect it or else you would be lost out there.

“Regardless, it’ll be incredible to see how engaged the fans get and how packed the stadium will be.”