CALGARY – A fast start helped propel the Stampeders to the Grey Cup game, and Calgary will hope to duplicate that feat in Sunday’s championship.
Led by quarterback Kevin Glenn, the Stamps are looking to employ the same strategy against the Toronto Argonauts that helped them to a 35-29 victory over the B.C. Lions in the CFL West Division final.
“With Toronto and it being their home, they’re going to have a lot of fans,” Glenn said on Monday as the Stamps met with the media in Calgary for the final time before heading to Toronto on Tuesday. “It’s big when you go into somebody else’s house in order to come out with a fast start.”
That’s exactly what happened on Sunday when Glenn tossed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Marquay McDaniel just 59 seconds into the game.
“That momentum with the fast start helped propel us throughout the whole game,” said Glenn, who completed 15-of-25 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
“Kevin and Marquay and really the whole offence did an excellent job of picking up the blitz,” said Calgary head coach and general manager John Hufnagel. “Obviously there was a mistake on the other side of the football and we were able to take advantage of it.”
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Hufnagel would like to see his team strike early against the Argos again on Sunday, while adding that building on any momentum is equally important.
“It’s always nice to get off to a fast start, but I don’t think it’s the most important thing,” he said. “It’s making sure that what’s important is being able to finish the game. Getting off to that type of start doesn’t hurt your chances.”
McDaniel would like nothing more than for the Stamps to continue their aggressive style when they go up against the Argos.
“We want to come out and get a fast start, execute early, put some points on the board, not play from behind, play with the lead and I think that will be big,” he said.
McDaniel, who finished up last season on Calgary’s practice roster after being released by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said he was in shock after the victory over the Lions.
“I’ve never won a playoff game in college, high school or here,” said McDaniel, who finished with three catches for 103 yards. “This is my first year getting out of the first round. To get to the championship game of the 100th Grey Cup, it’s pretty big, especially from being on the practice squad last year. I was definitely in shock after the game. I had to take it all in.”
The Stamps lost both games they played against the Argos in the regular season – 39-36 in Toronto on July 7 and 22-14 in Calgary on Aug. 14. Despite that fact, McDaniel has confidence that the Stamps can prevail on Sunday.
“We’re a totally different team now,” he said. “We’re just going to go look at the film. Their defence is good. They don’t give up too many big plays, so we’ve just got to go out there and execute and we’ll be fine.”
Glenn said he’s looking forward to the challenge of taking on the Argos in front of a capacity crowd.
“I think it’s going to be an evenly matched game,” Glenn said. “They’re a great team out there. They’ve got a good pressure defence and their offence is putting up points. We’re just going to have to come out and take the same approach that we did last week and that’s being aggressive and let it all out – let it all loose and win the game.
“We’ve got one more task at hand and that’s to bring the Grey Cup back to Calgary.”
To do that, the Stamps will have to beat the Argos at Rogers Centre, which is something they haven’t accomplished since Aug. 28, 2009.
“This is a unique opportunity,” said running back Jon Cornish, who’s up for the league’s outstanding player award along with receiver/kick returner Chad Owens of the Argos. “We need to overcome whatever has been haunting us in the Rogers Centre and what better time than the Grey Cup.”
Quincy Butler, who led the Calgary with nine tackles against B.C., said the reason that the Stamps have had success is because of the way the players have come together as a team.
“We’re just a team that wants to win,” he said. “We love playing as a group. We play with passion. We live and thrive for this.”
Fellow defensive back Keon Raymond added that the Stamps are up for the challenge that awaits them in Toronto.
“We’re going to have our hands full, but it’s the Grey Cup,” he said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I know they want to get us, but I think we want it just a little bit more.”