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Stinging memory fuels Calgary Stampeders in clash with B.C. Lions

Momentum, yes, but Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson doesn’t want his team feeling untroubled with the B.C. Lions in town.
Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, right, gets a pass away just before being hit by B.C. Lions defensive lineman Mathieu Betts during first half CFL football action in Calgary on Aug. 13, 2022. A 56-28 win over the Edmonton Elks last week and a modest two-game win streak indicates the Stampeders are high functioning heading into Saturday’s home game against the Lions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

Momentum, yes, but Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson doesn’t want his team feeling untroubled with the B.C. Lions in town.

A 56-28 win over the Edmonton Elks last week and a modest two-game win streak indicates the Stampeders are functioning at a high level heading into Saturday’s home game against the Lions.

“When you do well, I think you get momentum and yes, I think you can carry that forward,” Dickenson said Friday. “I also think teams play better when they’re not happy. You’ve got to realize it’s going to be a challenge, it’s going to be a grind.

“You almost want that little extra edge. You want to make sure you’re confident in your scheme and your players, but it doesn’t hurt my feelings when they’re a little bit edgy. I want to make sure they’re a little edgy.”

Look no further than the last game the two clubs played, says Stampeder defensive end Shawn Lemon. The Lions scored 20 points in the fourth quarter Aug. 13 en route to a 41-40 win at McMahon Stadium.

“We have that edge,” Lemon said. “The stuff they did on our field when they beat us, the stuff their social-media team does when they beat us, there’s a lot of fuel behind this game.”

The Stampeders (8-4) can also vault over the Lions (8-3) into second in the West Division with a win in the first of two straight games between the clubs. The Lions host Calgary next week in the race to host a home playoff game.

Vernon Adams Jr. starts for B.C. on Saturday for the first time since he was acquired from the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 31.

The starting quarterback scenarios of both clubs are far different than they were when young Canadian Nathan Rourke threw for 488 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Lions’ comeback win last month.

Rourke’s ankle sprain the week following the win in Calgary, and backup Michael O’Connor’s groin injury, had the Lions dealing a first-round draft pick in 2023 to the Als for Adams.

Calgary veteran pivot Bo Levi Mitchell has been supplanted by Jake Maier, who is 2-1 in his last three starts.

Maier’s completed 75-of-98 passes for 975 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions in the three and a half games he’s played in the last month.

B.C. and Calgary are the league’s highest-scoring teams in average points per game at 31.7 and 31.6 respectively, but B.C.’s production plummeted after Rourke’s injury with just 26 points over two straight losses.

“We get them back-to-back,” Maier said. “Step one is defending our place though. We really let them get one the last time we played here about a month ago. We’ve got to return that favour.

“Lately maybe it hasn’t gone the way they wanted, but they’re still a great defence. Statistically, they’re still up there at the top of the league.”

Adams has a wealth of targets in Dominique Rhymes, who is just 75 receiving yards from a season 1,000, as well as Lucky Whitehead, Keon Hatcher and Bryan Burnham.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Vernon,” Dickenson said. “He’s played some amazing games in the CFL. When he’s fresh, he’s even that much tougher. When his body feels good, he’s even that much tougher.

“Ton of weapons on both teams. Teams are jockeying for position. We each want to get on a winning streak and get a chance to start out by making the playoffs, and hopefully get a home playoff game. This goes a long way to get yourself in a good position to try and secure some of those teams goals.”

The CFL fined seven Stampeders this week for draping themselves over unoccupied lounge chairs near Commonwealth Stadium’s end zone in celebration of Trumaine Washington’s interception for a touchdown in Edmonton.

“I’d do it again,” said Lemon, who was among those lighter in the wallet. “As long as we’re scoring touchdowns, that’s all that matters.”

The league deemed their actions “violating the league’s security protocol by entering a fan area in a visiting stadium.”

“We have rules for a reason,” Dickenson said. “I’ll take celebrations after defensive touchdowns. Just hopefully not fineable celebrations.”

The reshuffling in Calgary’s defensive backfield continues with nine backs on the injured list. Bailey Devine-Scott at safety and Perry Young at outside linebacker draw in for Branden Dozier and Nick Statz.

McGill alum Maxime Rouyer, signed Monday by the Lions, has been activated for Saturday’s game. The linebacker played 18 games for the Elks between 2019 and 2021.

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