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VANCOUVER — Jake Maier knows that sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward.
The Calgary Stampeders overcame a slow start to the season to reach the playoffs but ultimately ended up losing their second straight Western Semi-Final to the BC Lions in Vancouver.
The 41-30 loss was Maier’s second post-season defeat and showcases that there’s still a lot of work to be done for Calgary as they look to establish themselves as a contender in the West Division.
“I think being a bit of a younger quarterback in this league, sometimes when you go through these things early, it just makes you so much better down the road in your career,” said the quarterback after the game. “Everybody’s journey is different.”
Maier completed 23 of 34 passes for 304 yards, two majors and an interception as the offence kept trying to keep pace with an explosive Lions attack. The quarterback connected on a touchdown pass to wide receiver Marken Michel on the first possession of the game but had to settle for too many field goals the rest of the way as kicker Rene Paredes was called upon five times with the offence failing to finish out drives.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey was also efficient on the ground with 75 yards on 14 carries for a 5.4 average, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to overcome a five-touchdown performance by Vernon Adams Jr. and the Leos.
“They have a really good team,” said head coach Dave Dickenson. “They are explosive and their quarterback is extremely good.
“I thought Jake (Maier) had a good performance. I was proud of him to fight through like that. But we’re in a tough environment versus a very good football team and they just outplayed us.”
The Stamps had to deal with a lot of injuries to some of their best players throughout the season like wide receiver Malik Henry, while also having names like Ka’Deem Carey and Reggie Begelton being limited or missing time with injuries of their own. Despite all that adversity – and a 6-12 record that included seven one-possession losses – Calgary found a way to secure a post-season spot by winning two of their last three regular season games. That included a pivotal Week 19 match against the Saskatchewan Roughriders that continued their run of 18 straight seasons playing in the playoffs.
“As a general manager and head coach, I look in the mirror first and realize that we’ve got to make sure we get some some help,” said Dickenson. “We also have to find out for these players what they’re best at and try to make make it work for 2024.
“It’s it’s tough right now to think that way but unfortunately, that’s what you have to do.”
As the Stampeders look towards next season, the Lions prepare to face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the second straight year in the Western Final on November 11 at IG Field.