- FREE AGENCY
CALGARY — Call them what you will, the Calgary Stampeders are good.
Getting set to be playing in their third consecutive Grey Cup, and while they have lost their last two appearances, the Stampeders are insisting that they will be arriving in Edmonton with a very different identity from those championship-bound teams from years past, particularly the 2016 edition of the Stamps, who faced the Ottawa REDBLACKS at the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto.
“I don’t think there’s hardly anybody, maybe eight people who were on that (2016) team — eight, ten people,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “We’re just such a different team. We’re just trying to take advantage of today and not look back.”
While they’re insisting on not wanting to keep themselves in close relation to Calgary teams from those consecutive Grey Cup losses, Dickenson does say that he’ll spend these first few days leading up to Grey Cup Week to look back and use history as a way to learn from mistakes made in the past.
Come Sunday, the Stampeders will be fielding a team that resembles nothing like their opening day roster from June — take their receiving corps for instance. After a season riddled with injuries sweeping through the position group left the Stamps scrambling to patch up the holes and limit the potential damage.
“We’re still trying to find who we are. We’re trying to find what the right mix is,” says Dickenson. “I don’t think we’re as scary on offence, but we’re finding the right guys who still give us a chance to win.”
That comes as the REDBLACKS will be boasting an offence that has Trevor Harris, the league’s runner-up in rushing yards in William Powell, along with a receiving corps that’s lead by Diontae Spencer, Greg Ellingson, and Brad Sinopoli. It’s a star-studded cast, to say the least.
As for Calgary? Well, yes, they’ll have the West Division’s Most Outstanding Player in Bo Levi Mitchell lining up behind centre. They’re receiving corps, however, is nowhere near touching the list of accomplishments the REDBLACKS group of pass-catchers has to their names, and many of them have come in place of the injured Kamar Jorden, Reggie Begelton, Marken Michel, DaVaris Daniels.
Defensively, the Stampeders have the lock on having the stronger unit without question. Calgary finished the season allowing the fewest points against, and in the two meetings with the REDBLACKS earlier in the season, they only allowed one touchdown, which came in the final three minutes of their first meeting when Dominique Davis connected with Greg Ellingson after Davis came in to replace a struggling Harris.
“You can’t take it and make it bigger than what it is,” said Calgary linebacker Alex Singleton. “You play the game like it’s one game. It’s one game to beat Ottawa. That’s the opportunity you want. You don’t have to go out and beat 18 teams, you don’t have to beat nine teams. You have to beat one team on one day.”
While Singleton is hoping to rally his crew to enter Sunday’s championship with the positive mindset that he speaks of, he’s also aware the Stampeders will face a tough week in addressing the team’s championship history.
“We’re going to face adversity throughout the entire game. We’re going to prepare for that this entire week. You never know when it’s going to hit. People talk about it all the time; one, two, or three plays wins every game, and it’s going to be the same in this one.”
Adversity or not, at the end of the day, the Stampeders have accomplished a lot this season.
“I’m happy we’re in the game again,” Singelton said with a smile. “To go three years in a row, it’s special. It’s something no one else has done since I’ve been in the league. Just go back, get another opportunity to prepare and change the slate.”