Mark Stephen is Sports Director of CHQR Radio in Calgary and has broadcast Calgary Stampeder games since 1996. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkonFootball.
Forgive Calgary Stampeder long-snapper Randy Chevrier for looking a little distracted during Friday’s game with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In stands will be a special visitor, watching his every move.
His mom, Carla, will be watching him play for the first time in Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. The choice of nights for her first Calgary visit is not an accident. Friday is Pink Power night at McMahon Stadium – a night that holds a special place in the heart of Chevrier.
“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago,” Chevrier said. “I was headed to camp one year and I couldn’t be there for my mom when she underwent surgery and recovery. It was heavy on my heart.”
“I am very thankful that my mom is a survivor,” he continued. “There are many others who don’t have the same story. I asked my mom to come to this game, so this will be her first in Calgary.”
Chevrier jumped into the leadership role on the Pink Power campaign following the departure of West Lysack to Toronto.
“Wes Lysack was here the last couple of years as the ambassador for Pink Power,” said Chevrier. “He did an awesome job and when he left for Toronto I immediately called (Stampeder Assistant General Manager) Mike Petrie to say this is something I really want to be involved in.”
Consider him officially involved. There will be all kinds of pink wear on the players during the Saskatchewan game. Everything from chinstraps to gloves will be on display. Plus there will be all kinds of items for sale at McMahon Stadium. And, let’s not forget, one very proud mother taking it all in
Pink Power may be front and centre on Friday, but another development was the talk of the town all week in Calgary. That would be the little matter of a quarterback switch. Drew Tate will get the start in the Saskatchewan game while Henry Burris backs him up.
The move was announced by Stampeder General Manager and head coach John Hufnagel following Monday’s workout.
“When given the opportunities to play, Drew has been productive,”announced Hufnagel,”by no means have I given up on Henry. But I want him to have this time to recoup emotionally and physically.
“His play ove the last seven games has not been as good as the first eight games, especially the month of August when he was offensive player of the month. But you can say the same about our entire football team.
“I am truly blessed to have depth at quarterback to help me make this decision and I belive both will have an impact in the near and long term of this football club.”
As might be expected, Burris was less than thrilled with the news
“What would your reaction be if they pulled you?” asked Burris to a crush of reporters in Calgary. “You’re never happy with it. You get pissed off about it.
“Huff’s a quarterback, he knows how it feels. I know Drew is going to go out there and do good. I’ll do exactly as asked. It’s part of the game you never take easy. Drew is rewarded for what he did.”
Naturally, Dave Dickenson, offensive coordinator for the Stamps was involved in the decision to sit the franchise’s career leader in just about every significant category.
“For some reason it just turned sideways this season,” said Dickenson following the Monday workout. “But we just feel right now at this point in our season, we’re going to give Drew that look and let Henry be an observer and get his legs under him.”
As for the newly-installed starter, Tate is not showing the pressure of replacing Burris.
“I haven’t even thought about it (replacing Burris),” Tate said. “It will just get in the way of what I have to accomplish this week.”
While this is Tate’s first start, it is hardly his first exposure to the Canadian Foorball Legaue. The Iowa product is in his fifth season in the league.
“I’ve been ready for a while,” he noted. “The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve prepped in my head for this opportunity.”
Now that opportunity as a starter comes on Friday night.
The Stamps are also switching up their middle linebacker. Juwan Simpson will move outside from his middle spot while Robert McCune will move into the middle, while the Stampeders look for a four-game season sweep over the Roughriders on Friday.