November 23, 2012

Stephen: Stamps recognize parallels to last Cup trip

The Calgary Stampeders last played in and won the Grey Cup in 2008.   

The parallels between that appearance four years ago and this weekend’s appearance in Toronto are striking.

100GC Stamps Headlines

» 100th Grey Cup Centre
» Grey Cup Rewind: Argos vs. Stamps
» Scianitti: How Cornish turned the corner
» Cornish named CFL’s top Canadian
» Morris: Lewis ready to bring the noise
» Morris: Cornish’s mom there for motivation
» Stamps, Argos getting set for action
» Stamps, Argos kickoff Grey Cup week
» Morris: Glenn enjoying the moment
» Taylor hopes to shine on biggest stage
» Hufnagel, Milanovich take similar paths
» Cauz: Good vs. evil in the Grey Cup
» Stamps embracing underdog role
» Video: Stamps ready to play spoiler
» Video: Horsing around at media lunch
» Video: Hufnagel a Calming Presence
» Images: Stamps’ Thursay Practice
» Images: Head Coaches Media Conference
» Images: West Division Media Lunch

Their path to the big game, in both 2008 and 2012, required them to defeat the British Columbia Lions, then head east into a host team’s building.  In 2008, it was Montreal while this year it is Toronto.

Four years ago, Calgary had the league’s leading rusher in Joffrey Reynolds, while this year’s Most Outstanding Canadian Jon Cornish took those honours this season.

Also four years ago, the Stampeders faced a rookie Canadian Football League head coach in Marc Trestman (although a very experienced coach in NFL and NCAA ranks).  This time the Stamps are facing rookie head coach Scott Milanovich in Toronto.

So these events may add up to an interesting set of facts.  But will they create a repeat of the most important part of the week – a Calgary Grey Cup win?

It says here, yes.

Whether all of the above factors play a role is uncertain but no one can argue the fact the Stampeders have picked a perfect time to play their best football.  They haven’t lost a game since Oct. 6 in Vancouver.

Particularly in the playoffs, the Stampeders have played some incredibly disciplined football.  In their last two post-season matches, they have been flagged for just seven penalties and committed just two turnovers—total.  

Many teams, including Calgary, have recorded those totals during various halves of football games.

The Stamps have also been good about securing and maintaining leads in the post-season.  They have trailed for just three minutes and twenty-six seconds in the two playoff games.

Despite the rush of flattering figures, there are several aspects of this game that should concern the Calgary Stampeders.  

The most obvious challenge is trying to contain Ricky Ray.  He became very familiar with the Stampeders in his time in Edmonton and the Stamps have in turn become familiar with him.  

There is also the Chris Jones challenge.  

The creative defensive mind of the Argos spent four seasons in Calgary, working against the Stamps offence during practices.

The Stampeders will also have to overcome the Dome doom.  Calgary has lost 10 of the last 12 times they have played in Toronto.  They seem to save their strangest plays and strangest turns of fortune for Toronto.  

It’s very hard to explain why that is, because for many of those years, the Argos have been far from a Grey Cup contender.

It won’t be easy for the Stampeders; playing in a building full of charged up Argo fans will be difficult.

But for the sake of consistency and since things seem to be repeating themselves from 2008, I’m going with Calgary 22 – Toronto 14.