Stamps fired up for new season
by Laura Lushington
After a season-ending 20-16 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2010 Western final, the Calgary Stampeders are looking to redeem themselves. Putting the past behind them, the players and coaches are working hard this off-season to get the results they want for after that first kick-off.
“For Stamps fans, we fell short last year,” said Stampeders punter Burke Dales.
“We were very disappointed. I know, personally for me, usually when you get done a hectic football season after six months, you’re so emotionally drained and you just need time to recuperate, you need time to mentally rejuvenate and physically rejuvenate,” he added.
“I know, from most of the guys that I’ve talked to and including myself, we already wanted to kick the next season off the day after that last game against Saskatchewan here. It left a really bad taste in our mouths and I think we’ve got a lot to prove.”
Dales says he has been engaging in a strenuous off-season training regimen to make sure he’s ready come the July 1 home opener against the Toronto Argonauts.
“I’ve trained harder this year than I have in the past,” said Dales.
Stating that field position in the CFL is underrated, Dales is hoping that by improving his directional kicking he can help give the Stamps the field position they need to have a greater chance at winning the game.
“My goal is to go out and progress week to week as the season goes on and I just really want to give my team the big kicks they need,” he said.
Head coach John Hufnagel has also been making and adjusting to changes both on the players and coaches roster.
“There’s always change,” he said, “This year maybe a little more change than I had anticipated.”
Joining Calgary this year will be kick returner Larry Taylor, who played with the Montreal Alouettes last season after a stint with the NFL’s New York Jets. Taylor will help to fill the void left by departing players Dwight Anderson and Brandon Browner. Hufnagel says he is excited to have Taylor on the team because of his utility as a punt returner, receiver and running back. It was an important acquisition because Taylor is a player who has the chance to run for a touchdown every time he touches the football.
Also joining the Stampeders is defensive back Geoff Tisdale who had 58 tackles, four interceptions and a fumble recovery with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year.
“If I lost Dwight (Anderson), Geoff was the guy we’d try to get,” said Hufnagel.
Filling out the special teams roster will be Tim St. Pierre, the most-outstanding special teams player for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2010. Both a linebacker and long-snapper, St. Pierre will help the Stampeders keep up their strong line of defense.
“You need those types of guys that can go down there and be a force,” said Hufnagel, adding that they might tinker with St. Pierre in the full back position.
One of the biggest changes to the coaching staff came with Tony Missick replacing Corey Chamblin as defensive backs coach. Also not returning to the Stampeders’ football operations team is defensive line coach Cornell Brown and running back coach Rick Campbell. Overall, Hufnagael says he is looking forward to a highly competitive western divison.
“We feel we have something to prove and something to give back to the fans,” added Dales.
“We’re itching to get the season kicked off. We’re ready to go .”
With files from Pauline Wyntjes