October 12, 2019

‘yeah Baby, That’s The Man’

CALGARY, AB - October 11, 2019: Calgary Stampeders beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 30-28 at McMahon Stadium on Friday night. (Photo by Candice Ward/Calgary Stampeders)

Clinging ferociously to a two-point lead like a cranky cat hugging a scratching post. Second-and-13. Ball perched on their own 50-yard-line. Seventy-two ticks, an eternity, or so it seemed, left on the scoreclock.

In need of a play.

In search of a hero.

And …

“ASAP Herg,” trumpeted quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, praising the man who made that play, became that hero, on a night both were urgently needed.

“Yeah, baby. That’s the man.”


Friday, ASAP Herg – a play-on-words on rapper A$AP Ferg, coined by slotback Eric Rogers – was top-of-the charts good.

Five catches, two of those marking his first touchdowns as a pro, and the massive 25-yard snare on that third-down after Mitchell escaped pressure in the pocket to find the first-round draft pick alone in a pocket of space to seal the deal.

Hergy Mayala, take a deep bow.

“Definitely feels good every time you win,” confessed Mayala, dealing with a thicket of cameras, microphones and voice recorders post-game in the wake of the Stampeders’ 30-28 first-place-grabbing victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. “That was our mission.

“It was a long road but I feel like I’ve arrived and I’ve got a lot more I can still show.

“I knew I’d have the chance and it just happened to be these last two games. It definitely feels great every time your quarterback looks for you at crunch time.”

And the nickname?

“Now it’s everywhere.”

Make big plays, you get nicknames – and big recognition.

“Hergy definitely took a step up this week and he’s done that every single week,” said Mitchell. “It’s fun to see. Fun to be able to trust a guy, give him those plays. I said out there I’m going to give him a little bit of crap cause I saw him go for the ball, he turned and looked and the ball kinda slips through and he grabs it really late.

“So I’m going to tell him: ‘Just concentrate, take that hit for me and you’re the hero.’

“It was awesome.”

There is, in any line of work, a vast difference between wondering, guessing or hoping, and actually knowing.

“When I saw him in training camp, I knew he had all the tools,” said Rogers. “Coming from the States there was an adjustment. He had to learn how to run routes and the playbook was a big challenge for him.

“You’re starting to see him more comfortable, more confident. He’s come a long way.

“When you know, rather than just kinda hope, you run a little faster. Everything slows down. You’re seeing that in him more and more, game by game.

“Coach Dickie is drawing up plays for him. That last catch he had, he was the No.-1 read. We try to get everybody in our receiving corps involved, give them responsibility, and that’s good.”

Mayala, of course, was the eighth-overall pick in this year’s CFL draft out of the U of Connecticut.

“He had a foot injury early in the year,” said coach Dave Dickenson. “I honestly don’t think he trusted the offence yet. He didn’t know where to go and where he fit. He was growing and building, then finally his foot healed and he felt he could be himself and you’re seeing the results.”

One characteristic this Stampeder edition has in spades is resolve. They stay the course, in fair winds and foul. Friday, star corner Tre Roberson was lost on a hit to the head early. The offensive line had already taken a hit when anchor Shane Bergman was injured during warm-up. Then defensive end Chris Casher was ejected just a shade over a minute into the second quarter.

“We overcame a lot of adversity,’’ agreed Dickenson. “I’m happy that we won but it was a battle. It felt like a playoff game.

“A very even-played game. I don’t think either team can look in the mirror and say: ‘We’re better than them.’ Just a very hard-fought game that ended up a classic.

“It’s just SO hard. Each game’s gonna come down to the wire. I can’t remember our last game where we could actually breathe before winning. It just doesn’t seem like anything’s going to be easy.”

Typifying this group’s resolve was Bergman, who mysteriously vanished after warm-ups, only to re-appear late in Quarter II to take up his accustomed spot along the O-line.

“Big shoutout to Zack Williams,” lauded Mitchell. “They’re announcing the guys before the game and nobody could find Berg. Nobody knew what was going on.

“Then when Berg got in there right before that touchdown, everybody got kinda hopped up. They started saying ‘Hoggies on three!’ Just a big morale boost having a guy like that back in there.”

Bergman was waiting to see what the knee would feel like Sunday morning.

“I’ve never had a warm-up quite like that,” he admitted. “Kind of unfortunate, I tweaked my knee but got some imaging done and all was good so froze it up to get rid of the pain and went out and played.

“They said there’s no break, where we thought there might’ve been one, so we’re good to freeze it and get out there.

“Cause it’s crunch time.”

That it is. Now the West is theirs to win again with three games left to be contested.

And Mayala, following up a 116-yard performance in Montreal in style Friday, has grown to the point where he could be a large part of that quest.

ASAP Herg was asked as he held he felt all the attention post-game was something he would be okay with on a weekly basis.

Mayala flashed a Cheshire Cat grin.

“Yeah, I can get used to it.”