November 6, 2023

Stamps seeking consistency after up-and-down season

Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders season in 2023 ended the same way as the year before, with a loss in the Western Semi-Final against the BC Lions.

That’s about the only similarity between the two seasons though, as this year’s Stampeders won half as many games (6-12 over 12-6) while navigating injuries to key veterans that propelled young players into the spotlight.

Wide receiver Reggie Begelton was once again one of the leaders on this group, but dealt with physical issues of his own that limited him throughout the season and were part of a series of injuries that kept a promising roster in Calgary below the standards they had set for themselves.

“We have dealt with adversity from start to finish,” said Begelton in an interview to Stampeders.com. “It was one of those years where you have a young team and what comes with it are growing pains.”

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The veteran pass catcher finished the season with 1,119 yards and five touchdowns over 15 appearances before hauling in eight catches for 112 yards and a major in the Western Semi-Final. Quarterback Jake Maier meanwhile was the only pivot to start all 18 games for his team, having an up-and-down season that saw him complete 363 of 578 passes for 4,237 yards, 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

The pivot showed his resilience by keeping the team afloat and rallying the troops to win two key matchups against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Lions late in the season to secure another post-season spot, their 18th straight. Despite Maier leading his team to the playoffs for the second consecutive year – after taking over for Bo Levi Mitchell in 2022 – head coach and general manager Dave Dickenson understands that it’s important for his pivot to come back even better next year.

“I’ve always liked what he has brought,” said Dickenson in a wrap up interview to Stampeders.com. “He’s a great leader and he works extremely hard and he’s young. I have faith that he’ll do the right things in the off-season to be a better player and that’s what we are looking for.”

It’s all about improving for this Stampeders team going into 2024. Begelton – who saw his numbers go up in 2023 compared to the year prior – is focused on making sure he can be an even better version of himself next year.

“I do,” answered the receiver when asked if he was proud of the season he had. “But I know some things that I can get better at and that’s what I’m going into the off-season to be able to do.”

The Stampeders lost receiver Malik Henry early in the season and only had star running back Ka’Deem Carey for nine games in 2023. Alongside missing key players at times during the season, Calgary was also on the losing side of seven one-score games, finishing 3-7 in games decided by eight or less points.

Dickenson wants to make sure that going forward they are able to find that consistency that pushes them over the edge.

“I certainly have to look at everything and I have to look in the mirror myself and figure out what’s the best combination to get the most out of our players,” said Dickenson. “I appreciate their work, everyone worked extremely hard again. We were a tight staff and team, didn’t see anybody pointing fingers at anybody.

“The game is kind of what it was. One group can play fairly well and the other two don’t play as well. One group makes plays and the other two groups didn’t make plays. We very rarely had consistent play out of all three groups. As coaches that’s important to look at, try to figure it out, which we knew. Put your finger on it and keep that going for 2024.”

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