Canadian Football League

Monday, October 31, 2005

Stamps have shot at Canadian Football League home playoff date

Calgary head coach Tom Higgins has a message for his players: Don't look at the team's home-away record.
With a 46-24 victory over the Blue Bombers Sunday, the 10-7 Stampeders can grab second place in the CFL West Division with a win next Sunday at home against the 11-6 Edmonton Eskimos.
The Stampeders have a 6-3 away record compared to 4-4 on home turf.
"There's such a huge advantage to having a home playoff game that I'll make sure that the players aren't thinking anything in the back of their mind other than trying to win a football game," Higgins said.
"The team has come so far that we don't want to let it go just because we're thinking we'd rather be on the road than be at home. That's hogwash. We'll get that right out of their minds immediately."
Coming off a four-win 2004 season, the Stampeders brought in Higgins and quarterback Henry Burris to help turn the team around.
Burris threw three touchdown passes and ran one in himself against the Bombers, who end the season at 5-13. That's the worst Bomber finish since 1998, when they went 3-15 under Jeff Reinebold and Gary Hoffman after Reinebold was fired.
Burris was replaced by Danny Wimprine halfway through the fourth quarter after completing 21 of 25 passes for 343 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. Wimprine was 1-3 for minus one yard.
Calgary scored 24 points off five Winnipeg turnovers, which included three interceptions of Kevin Glenn passes and two turnovers on downs in front of 23,455 fans at Canad Inns Stadium.
Glenn was replaced by Russ Michna late in the third quarter after going 10-19 for 113 yards, three interceptions and no TDs. Michna was 8-12 for 124 yards and one TD.
Nik Lewis caught a pair of TD catches, while Burris, Jermaine Copeland, defensive back Coby Rhinehart and rookie running back David Allen also recorded Calgary TDs. Sandro DeAngelis booted a 37-yard field goal and had a single off a missed 30-yarder.
"(The emotion) is pretty high," said Lewis, who had four catches for 66 yards. "This year, it's coming together. We've got new talent and a great coaching staff that puts us in good situation to make plays and that's the difference."
As for taking on Edmonton at home next week, he already dismissed their home-away record.
"Everything is in the past," said Lewis, whose team has split two games with the Eskimos.
"We made a lot of mistakes in that first Edmonton game and corrected some in the second one and beat 'em. We're looking forward to beating them again this time."
Running back Charles Roberts notched his 11th and 12th TDs of the season, Milt Stegall caught his league-leading 17th TD reception and Troy Westwood added a 47-yard field goal for Winnipeg's scoring.
Roberts, who should win the league rushing title, ran 20 times for 116 yards, giving him a career-best 1,624 yards. His previous best was 1,554 yards in 2003.
Calgary's Joffrey Reynolds is second in rushing with 1,379 yards.
Winnipeg also ends the season with some dubious records.
The defence set a CFL single-season record for most yards allowed with 8,249 yards. Saskatchewan held the old mark of 8,035 in 1991.
The Bombers also set a CFL single-season record for most passing yards allowed with 6,335. B.C. allowed 6,142 in 1993.
Now that Winnipeg is through its "rebuilding year" - a phrase coined by head coach Jim Daley - changes are inevitable.
Aside from players, the job status of Daley and general manager Brendan Taman are up in the air. Bomber president and chief executive officer Lyle Bauer has said he'll do a post-season evaluation on the entire football operations.
Daley, who took over when Dave Ritchie was fired in August, 2004, said he hasn't talked to Bauer about when the evaluation will be complete.
"That's not something we've even dealt with. We dealt with Calgary," said Daley, who admitted the past year was difficult.
"We got behind early in terms of 0-4 and you never gain momentum and you never get things rolling," said Daley. "Unfortunately, we had an unsettled roster (but) for a large part, especially on offence and special teams, this roster has very good potential."
Winnipeg is hosting next year's Grey Cup.
Stegall, who will make a decision "soon" about whether he'll retire after 11 seasons to spend more time with his wife and young son in Atlanta, doesn't think the Bombers need massive changes.
"You just don't want to overhaul everything, 'cause you're starting all over again," said Stegall, who has 129 career TDs, nine shy of breaking the CFL record of 137 shared by George Reed and Mike Pringle.
"We have great people here and everybody's been gelling together. We just haven't performed on the football field."


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