The weather is getting colder.
The days are getting shorter.
It’s win or go home.
And there’s one player who knows these days better than the rest.
Eleven-year Stamp Rene Paredes is ready for his 23rd post-season game as the Red and White prepare for the BC Lions in Vancouver on Sunday.
He’s been part of heartbreaking losses and unbelievable wins.
But, the preparation for these moments remains the same.
“The energy is definitely different around the guys,” said Paredes. “Everybody is more focused, more intense. I try to keep everything the same no matter what game it is. Even in Grey Cup week I try to do the same exact things.
“Obviously, the games are bigger so you have to focus in a bit more, but the biggest thing for me is keep doing what you’ve been doing and what’s been working for you.”
With 11 seasons under his belt and the longest-standing member of the team (Bo Levi Mitchell has 10 seasons with the Stamps and Kamar Jorden has nine), the two-time Grey Cup champion has cemented himself as one of the leaders of this club.
He was chosen as the team’s 2022 Jake Gaudaur nominee, an award that is presented to the Canadian player that best demonstrates strength, perseverance, courage and comradeship.
When he’s not practising field goals on the sideline you can find No.30 encouraging his teammates and hyping up the crowd.
“I’m not a big hoorah guy,” he said. “I just try to keep guys motivated, when people make good plays or bad plays I keep them going and keep them focused.
“That’s something (head coach) Dave (Dickenson) and (assistant head coach and special-teams coordinator Mark) Kilam have wanted me to do for the past two or three years, since our team is getting younger and I’m getting older,” he chuckled.
You could say he’s aging like a fine wine.
It’s been a career year for the 37-year old kicker.
Paredes kicked for a league-best 211 points during the regular season to win the CFL scoring title for the third time in his career, including each of the last two seasons.
He also led the league with 54 field goals and five field goals or 50 yards or longer.
In a Week 11 matchup against the Argos, he made the Top 10 all-time CFL scoring list.
He’s the CFL’s all-time leader with six seasons of a field-goal conversion rate of 90% or better while his counterpart in the Western Semi-Final – Sean Whyte of the Lions – is second with four. Former BC Lion Paul McCallum has two such seasons while nine others have one.
Most recently he earned his sixth divisional all-star nod, and was previously recognized in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2021 for his achievements on the field.
He is notoriously humble when it comes to talking about his accomplishments but, the six time all-star acknowledged the incredible season he is having.
“It means a lot,” Paredes said. “I tell everybody those are things I’ll look at once I’m done playing. Two hundred and eleven points is a lot. Every year is different. Some years I get less attempts than others, so I just get prepared and go for the next kick and don’t worry about the next one.”
Calgary’s journey to the Grey Cup will go through the road.
History is not on the team’s side when it comes to playing away in the playoffs. The Red and White have lost seven consecutive Western Semi-Final games when playing away from McMahon Stadium, with their last win coming in 1970 against Edmonton. The team went on to lose the Grey Cup that year to the Montreal Alouettes.
Although those numbers may look daunting, this 2022 squad is 7-2 on the road this year compared to 5-4 at home.
Paredes admits you always strive to play for your home crowd, but that playing on the road isn’t necessarily a disadvantage for this team.
“We try to win every game no matter what. But, yeah I guess we have been better on the road so hopefully we can take advantage of that on this playoff run.
“It’s starts in BC and then we’ll go from there.”
The road to the Grey Cup may not be easy, but the Red and White sure can count on Mr. Automatic when his number is called.