June 22, 2022

Four of a Kind

For generations, it’s been a staple on the CFL schedule.

Calgary’s Labour Day home-and-home series with the Green and Gold, a tradition which began way back in 1959.

And while those two mid-season clashes always mark a conclusion to the summer calendar, Alberta football fans won’t have to wait until early September to get this year’s party started in Wild Rose Country.

The Stamps and Elks will also battle for provincial supremacy this Saturday, June 25 in Calgary and on Thursday, July 7 in Edmonton. With a Week 4 bye week, it’s a second set of back-to-back meetings for the Red and White against their Northern neighbours.

That’s right – the Stampeders will be facing the Elks on four occasions in a single regular season for the first time since 2012. The last time Calgary had more than one set of consecutive games against their bitter rivals was in 2006.

“It’s an important time of the season for us with establishing the Battle of Alberta,” said defensive lineman Shawn Lemon, no stranger to Alberta’s fight for football supremacy. “We want to come in and be dominant and just play good football on defence. That’s our game plan going in.”

Lemon, an 11-year veteran, spent his sophomore season with Edmonton and then 2013-14 in Calgary before rejoining the Stamps prior to last year.

“I’ve been on both sides of the Battle of Alberta and it’s a huge rivalry,” offered the two-time Grey Cup champion with 120 games of regular-season experience. “Whichever team comes out and wins that Battle, nine times out of 10, they’ll make the playoffs.”

Games against the Elks are always easy to get up for. Yet the Stampeders will need to ensure there isn’t any drop-off from their previous outing, a thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory in Hamilton which erased a 24-0 deficit.

“We have a very veteran locker room and a great locker room,” Lemon stressed. “Guys want to compete every day in practice and compete in every game. And just as you saw in the last game with us being down, we didn’t give up. We just went out and competed in the second half to give ourselves a chance to come back. And I don’t think we’ll have a problem with getting up to play any game. We’re just excited for the next opponent.”

A pair of successful early-season performances against Edmonton could go a long way, as Calgary can continue to separate in the standings given their 2-0 start and Edmonton’s current 0-2 fate.

“They’ve done a lot of good things on film,” identified the Maryland native and Akron alum. “We’ve seen a lot of flashes of them being a really good team. Their team is going to come out with nothing to lose at this point because they’ve lost their first two games. That’s the most dangerous type of team a lot of times. They’re going to come out with a spark.”

Regardless of their four encounters over the next 12 weeks, Lemon knows that Calgary can’t be looking too far ahead. Three wins in three outings heading into the bye would be a major upgrade from last season’s 1-4 start.

“It will be good for us, with this week and then having a bye week and then coming back and playing the same opponent,” declared No. 40. “We play Edmonton four times this year so we have to establish dominance in the first matchup.”

Calgary is guaranteed Four of a Kind in terms of games against the Elks.

But only time will tell how many aces it has up its sleeve.