In recent years, the Calgary Stampeders’ dominance over the Edmonton Eskimos was exceeded only by the Calgary Flames’ dominance over the Edmonton Oilers. (City of Champions, mon cul!) However, the tides were turned last November 13th when the Esks put up 22 second-quarter points en route to a 33-19 win in the Western Semi-Final. Ricky Ray had a solid, if somewhat understated performance in the victory, going 19-of-27 for 245 yards and a score. But he sealed the deal at the end of the first half, engineering a 10-play, 75-yard drive, which he capped off with a four-yard toss to Jason Barnes to put Edmonton up 25-9 going into the locker room, a lead they would not relinquish.
Of course, the Esks went on to lose to the eventual Grey Cup champion BC Lions the following week, but that doesn’t really matter. As it turns out, Ricky Ray isn’t even an Eskimo anymore–and neither is Jason Barnes. They’re both Toronto Argonauts, with the star QB coming over in what might be the worst trade in CFL history unless native Edmontonian Grant Shaw kicks his way to a couple scoring titles. Fortunately, this means I won’t hafta fly out to Alberta in order to boo his ass off.
Today, the Argos open the home half of their schedule by hosting my Stampeders, coming off a big win in which they contained Anthony Calvillo and the Alouette offence on Canada Day. Meanwhile, Ray didn’t get off to such a hot start in the City of Losers last week, putting just 15 points on the board against his former team–despite 298 yards passing. Even with Barnes, Chad Owens and a still-recovering Maurice Mann in the lineup, the Argos don’t have all that many weapons for Ricky to throw to. But hey, if he fails to ignite the Toronto passing game, I’m sure he could put his potato-chip trucking experience to work for one of the many local breweries out here…
Although the Stamps don’t typically fare well in Toronto, last year’s visit was memorable for being Drew Tate’s coming-out party. Trailing by nineteen at the half, Calgary benched incumbent QB Smilin’ Hank Burris (now not exactly lighting it up in Hamilton) for the ex-Iowa Hawkeye, who reeled off 20 unanswered points by throwing for 263 yards in one half of football. Though the Argos would kick a late field goal to win it, the Stamps under Tate would end the season with three straight victories–until they met Edmonton in the first round of the playoffs.
However, with a full four quarters of Tate going up against a team that’s still trying to get on the same page as its new QB, I foresee another big win for Calgary this afternoon. Stamps 31, Argos 13.