(With files from Postmedia and Ticats.ca)
HAMILTON -- The Stamps and Ticats are set for a heated cross-division battle at Ivor Wynne on Thursday, as quarterbacks Henry Burris and Kevin Glenn square off against their former teams in Week 7 action.
It’ll be the first time the two veteran pivots meet since a trade back in January that sent Burris to Hamilton in exchange for Glenn and offensive lineman Mark Dewit, and although they may not admit it, it’s safe to assume that both Glenn and Burris will be looking to make a splash against the team that let them go.
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“It's like everybody's wish came true,” Glenn said with a chuckle earlier this week after his team practised at McMahon Stadium. “People still would have enjoyed it if Drew (Tate) was still playing, but this is what the scriptwriters would want. Kevin Glenn, former starting quarterback in Hamilton. Henry Burris, former starting quarterback in Calgary. And they're playing each other.”
Tate was the man who drove Burris out of Calgary, and when Glenn was traded to the Stamps as part of the deal that brought Smilin’ Hank to the Hammer, he was expected to be the veteran backup that could mentor Tate and step in when needed.
It turned out he would be needed pretty quickly after Tate went down with a shoulder injury in Week 2, and the 33-year-old vet has so far been more than adequate as Calgary’s new starter.
The 12th-year CFLer has the third-highest quarterback this season, with a rating of 99.4, to go along with a league-leading 70.3 per cent efficiency rating, to go with 1,108 yards and six touchdown passes.
But as he enters Thursday’s game with a chance to stick it to the team that chose to move on without him, Glenn doesn’t appear to be thinking about revenge. A win on Thursday, he said, wouldn’t be much different from any other.
“What's important is for us to get a win,” Glenn told the Regina Leader-Post. “It's not about Kevin Glenn getting revenge, if you want to call it that, against Hamilton, or for Henry Burris to get revenge against Calgary. When you understand this game and this profession, the most important thing is winning games, and it doesn't matter who you're playing against.”
Thursday’s matchup certainly won’t be new territory for Glenn, who was once a finalist for Most Outstanding Player for the Bombers, and before that spent time in Saskatchewan – he’s seen just about everything during his CFL tenure, moving him past that whole angle of revenge.
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"Every situation is not for everybody," he said. "Some situations, you have to let go of them and move on. That's how I look at it. So the emphasis for me is to go in and play good football, play smart football and win the football game."
The Stamps know doing just that won’t be an easy task, as they face the league’s hottest team in the league while looking to bounce back from a 34-8 loss against the West Division-leading Lions – their most lopsided loss since 2010, when they fell 35-7 to the Eskimos.
It was a wakeup call of sorts for the league’s second highest-scoring offence, which was held out of the endzone against BC and failed to generate any offence on the ground with just 29 yards on 12 attempts. Limited production in the running game has been a growing trend for Calgary, going over 100 yards rushing just once so far this season.
Calgary was almost doubled in time of possession against BC, and in Hamilton will need to have more success on the ground in order to sustain drives and keep Burris and the Ticat offence on the sideline for as much of the game as possible.
Burris enters Thursday’s affair as the hottest quarterback in the league, with a league-high passer rating of 118.3 – unprecedented for this far into the season. He’s also completed 69.7 per cent of his passes, but most impressive is his touchdown to interception ratio, as he’s thrown just three interceptions while throwing 15 touchdowns passes.
But it was his last two games in particular that have turned heads, where he’s completed 56 of 70 passing attempts for 716 yards, along with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s led to 74 points in wins over the Als and Riders, leaving the Tabbies as the league’s highest-scoring offence.
Now, fresh off a Player of the Month honour for the month of July, Burris will look to lead his team to a fourth straight win – and what sweeter way to do it than against his former club.
“You always want to beat friends, because these are games that we’ll talk about in 10 years when we’re all retired and reflecting back on our careers,” said Burris.
“Juwan Simpson and Charleston Hughes and all of those guys will be gunning for me. We’ll be trying to take each other’s heads off and get the win for our team. But afterwards, these are the games that we’ll be able to brag to each other about.”
|The last time they met|
Kevin Glenn had one of his best games of the year, completing 16 of 23 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns on the way to a 55-36 'Cats win at Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton. Marcus Thigpen shone in the win, catching six passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while Avon Cobourne chipped in with 84 rushing yards and a touchdown. Henry Burris and Drew Tate each threw a pair of touchdown passes for the Stamps, but it wasn't enough as Calgary's defence just couldn't contain a red-hot Ticat offence.
Burris, the league’s second most experienced quarterback behind Alouettes’ pivot Anthony Calvillo, isn’t the only one going against a former team for the first time on Thursday.
First-year head coach George Cortez was also a key member of the Stampeders’ offence, working closely with Burris as offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2009, before leaving to the NFL to become a quarterback coach.
Cortez, though, was a little coyer about the emotions of facing a former team.
“The importance of it is that it’s the next game,” Cortez said in an interview with Ticats.ca. “The next game is always the most important game.”
The rookie head coach did admit, though, that his familiarity with the Stampeders and vice versa would make proper execution even more crucial on Thursday than it otherwise would be.
“It makes it interesting because when I watch them play, I see some of the things they’re doing and understand why they’re doing them,” said Cortez. “I’m sure they do the same thing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you normally would, but it probably means that you’ll have to execute at a higher level.”
The Tiger-Cats have the opportunity to claim sole possession of first place in the East Division with a victory on Thursday, but his team doesn’t need any extra motivation as it looks to win a fourth straight game.
“It’s motivating to win. That’s the motivation,” said the Ticat coach. “It’s an opportunity to be the first team in the league to win four in a row. It’s a long time from now until they seed the playoffs, so I’m not too worried about that. But I am worried about the next game.”
If one thing is certain, it’s that Thursday’s matchup offers a number of intriguing storylines going in, from the return of former players to the actual game itself.
Burris and Glenn spent a combined 10 years with their respective former teams, and will now head into this clash with the league’s highest-scoring offence, with the Stamps averaging 31 points per game and the Ticats a league-high 32.4.
Ticats’ Offensive lineman Tim O’Neill and defensive back Geoff Tisdale are also set to battle their former team for the first time, after they joined Hamilton in the off-season, while Dewit will play the ‘Cats for the first time after being sent to Calgary as part of the quarterback swap.
Kickoff is at 7 P.M. ET and can be seen on TSN, or followed live via Game Tracker on CFL.ca.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|