November 16, 2012

Stephen: Stampeders no stranger to adversity

Amid everything that has taken place at McMahon Stadium this week, it is easy to overlook the fact there is a game to prepare for.  

You know the one; Stamps at Lions, with a berth to the Grey Cup at stake.

Western Final Playoff Centre

The 2012 Western Final matchup is set as the BC Lions host the Calgary Stampeders. Here is everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game.

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While there have been plenty of off-field issues, there has been one issue directly related to the on-field aspects of  Sunday’s game.  That would be the Stampeders re-inserting Kevin Glenn as the starting quarterback.  Drew Tate has his hand in a cast as a result of an injury suffered in the Western Semi-Final and will be unavailable for the remainder of the season with a fractured forearm.

Tate said his hand felt funny following the game, but he kept thinking it was just a bruise picked up in the normal course of a game.  But when the ‘bruise’ failed to heal, he was sent for a further examination and a small fracture in the right, throwing wrist, was discovered.

The Stampeders are in a fortunate position to be able to re-install Glenn in the lineup.

First, he quarterbacked the team for the bulk of 2012, as 10 of the Stamps’ 12 wins this season came with him in charge.  He also passed for over 4,000 yards, a total that demonstrated consistency while under center.

There is also great personal incentive for Glenn to step it up in Vancouver.  Glenn had a very successful season in 2007 with Winnipeg, taking the club to the Grey Cup.  However, late in the Eastern Final he suffered a broken forearm, preventing him from partaking in the Grey Cup.  

In a huge touch of irony, that Grey Cup game was also played in Toronto.

The Stampeders will head to Vancouver as underdogs.  However, several factors weigh in their favour.

Calgary has caught the proverbial wave heading into the game.  Their last loss came to the Lions back on Oct. 6, and they have since run the table on their opponents.

Additionally home-field has not meant a lot in determining the outcome of Western Finals.  Including 1999 (the last team these teams hooked up in a Western Final in Vancouver), the home team has won just six times while losing seven matchups.
Is it the burden of expectations or circumstances that make winning a Western Final at home so difficult to win?  Hard to say exactly what the issues are but home field advantage isn’t a big advantage.

The Stampeders head to Vancouver after a week of many challenges.  But facing challenges has been their calling card all season.  

The team dressed 71 different players as a non-stop parade of injuries forced John Hufnagel to substantially rearrange his lineup weekly. Through all of that upheaval, the Stampeders prospered. A trip to the Western Final is just one more obstacle to overcome for a team that has played on an even keel all year.

There is little doubt the B. C. Lions represent a formidable challenge.  They are the Grey Cup champions.  They won the most games in the league this season.  However, they face a battle-tested Calgary team that will give the Lions everything they can handle…and maybe more.