Ferguson: Stamps, Elks looking to find momentum on LDW

Every season teams across the CFL go into training camp, the preseason and inevitably the regular season with expectations.

How could they not after spending six months manipulating their roster to build the best club possible, one worthy of hoisting the Grey Cup come November while being showered in confetti.

For the CFL’s two Alberta based teams this season has simply not lived up to expectations, but that hasn’t been for lack of trying.

Be it in building out the perfect depth chart, finding the chemistry between two players who they hoped would spend the entire season battling side by side or just entrusting a quarterback who everyone in the organization has full belief in.


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Edmonton and Calgary have been shaped differently, but fallen on similar fates heading into their next two weeks against each other.

The Stampeders defence leaned on veteran resilience with Cameron Judge, Micah Awe and an experienced front four pass rush that has consistently been amongst the CFL’s best in 2023. The Elks went young on the back end of their defence, have struggled to stop the run when trailing and have relied on middle linebacker Nyles Morgan to make just about every play he possibly can to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Offensively it is Jake Maier and Jake Maier only for Calgary. The first year full time CFL starter has shown why the team from top down felt comfortable making the landmark shift from Bo Levi Mitchell in games against Ottawa and Toronto where he throws his red and white attack up and down the field, at times looking unstoppable.

For Edmonton it’s been another season of wishing Taylor Cornelius could lock down the leading role, only to see a handful of backups forced into duty necessitated by injury or ineffective play. Jarret Doege got his chance after a jaw dropping garbage time touchdown pass against the Argos led to a thudding start on the road in Ottawa. Kai Locksley was let go after frustrations boiled over on the sideline and finally the Elks gave Tre Ford an opportunity.

Unlike Maier, Ford never went into this season knowing he was the likely starter. Far from it, the Waterloo Warriors legend has battled uphill to get reps after training camp from all accounts but once he hit the field on game day the raw talent is unquestionable. Something both he and Maier have in common despite differing skill sets.

Edmonton and Calgary. Two teams with a great history looking to reclaim that championship quality vibe who just can’t seem to reach the expectations placed on themselves and risk missing the playoffs if Saskatchewan continues to press forward through their Winnipeg adversity of the next couple weeks.

Here’s the great thing about the CFL season, every game counts. The old moniker of ‘the season doesn’t start until Labour Day’ is idiotic. If you wait until September to start playing your best football you will – and these teams have – put yourself well behind in the playoff standings.

What DOES change on Labour Day? Everything feels more real. The intensity ratchets up, the air starts to crisp up and something in the circadian rhythm of football players comes to life. Years of imprinting that fall is football season results in what can often feel like a different second half to the season.

That’s exactly what Calgary and Edmonton are counting on.

The key for Calgary is to get as healthy as possible and continue finding ways to access Jake Maier’s steady as he goes attitude, turning in big statistical performances that result in wins not just moral victories.

For Edmonton the next two weeks are about playing spoiler. Finding a way to have Tre Ford beat your provincial rival and send the message that if we aren’t going to the playoffs, these two games against Calgary will be our playoffs.

Two teams with disappointing campaigns in their own words, looking to find some momentum and consistency that could change how they look back on 2023. There is no better time than OK Tire Labour Day Weekend to flip the script and start writing a new plot. Both these teams need it and get the chance Monday.

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