TORONTO — Last year’s CFL All-Star team featured three members of the Calgary Stampeders on the offensive side of the ball.
Because of injuries, none of the three — offensive lineman Dimitri Tsoumpas, slotback Nik Lewis and running back Jon Cornish — will be in uniform Friday as the Stamps take on the Argonauts in Toronto.
“It’s something that you have to contend with,” said head coach and general manager John Hufnagel, who has no fewer than 17 players on the injury list. “Injuries happen in football no matter what names they are. We’ve said this all along — you cannot be concerned about it. I have 42 healthy guys, they’ve prepared themselves to play this football game, they’ve prepared themselves to win this football game. Now we have to go out and do it against a very, very good opponent.”
Tsoumpas will miss a second consecutive game while Lewis was hurt last week in Vancouver. Cornish, suffering from a thigh injury, is the latest big-name performer to be sidelined.
In his place, Calgary native Matt Walter and rookie import Jonathan Williams will handle the ball-carrying workload for the Red and White.
“Matt’s been in the system,” said Hufnagel of the second-year pro out of the University of Calgary. “When he’s carried the ball, he’s done a good job. It’s going to be a big game for Jonathan Williams. With both him and Matt, we’ll get the job done.”
“Obviously,” said Walter, who also starred at Bishop O’Byrne high school, “Cornish being down is not the best thing for us as a team. But I prepare every week like I’m going to start just for that one scenario . . . and I’m ready to help my team out. It’s an exciting opportunity.”
Walter thinks there’s no reason to be nervous on the eve of his big chance.
“Honestly the preparation takes a lot of that away,” he said. “Knowing I’m prepared and, luckily, I have really good coaches who got me ready for this week, so it’s just a matter of executing and going out there and doing what we do best.”
Quarterback Kevin Glenn says the Stamps aren’t feeling sorry for themselves despite the absence of star players.
“This is how opportunities present themselves,” said the 13-year veteran.
“It’s sad to say that sometimes people have to get hurt for other guys to get their opportunity but this is why you keep more than just 12 guys on the team. We’ve shown at quarterback that one guy can go down and another guy can step in and we’re going to do it across the board on offence, too.
“I think we still have a lot of leaders on the offensive side of the ball. Remember, we’re a team. Defensive guys rally around offensive guys and vice versa. And also on special teams. We’ve still got guys like Jon Gott and Stanley Bryant and J’Micheal (Deane) and Marquay (McDaniel), myself, Rob Cote, Jabari Arthur . . . These guys are guys who have played a lot of games and they’re still leaders in their own way. Some guys are vocal. Some guys lead by example. But the most important thing is that we’re a team.”