Not a trap game, but matchup with Argos is must-win for Stampeders

Share Adjust Comment Print

Can you even have a trap-game when you’re a .500 team?

Sure, the bookies have the Calgary Stampeders listed as big favourites heading into Thursday’s matchup with the winless Toronto Argonauts (0-4).

But when you’ve lost as many games as you’ve won and dropped your last outing against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Stampeders aren’t really sure that it’s possible.

“We’ve got to win,” said Stamps defensive tackle Derek Wiggan. “If we were 4-0 it’s a different story, but we’re 2-2 and we’ve got to win. We need this game. We don’t have the luxury of even being able to have a trap game.”

Now, there’s definitely a reason why the Stampeders are listed as favourites.

The Argos have started their 2019 season off horribly. They’ve scored the least points in the league, have allowed the most and are generally near the bottom of every statistical category in the CFL.

The Stamps haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, but they’ve been within a touchdown in both of their losses, so far — admittedly, you could make the argument that they probably should have lost in Week 3 against the B.C. Lions.

The Stamps are strictly middle of the pack right now in the West Division, while the Argos are the CFL’s cellar-dwellers.

“We’re not a team that I think anyone’s scared of, at all,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson. “I think we’re a team that needs to play well and show up and be focused and take advantage of our opportunities. I think they’re probably looking forward to the opportunity to come in here, so we’ve got to show up and make sure we play.”

The Stamps have looked great in flashes through their first four games, but are still trying to get it together with some consistency.

With a young team that’s trying to integrate lots of new pieces into the lineup, that’s probably inevitable at this point in the season. Dickenson has been stressing since before training camp began that building a winning football team is a process, and the Stamps are still in the early stages of that process.

“What I’ve got to look at is if I’m giving them too much,” Dickenson said. “I’m used to having a veteran group but I’m used to having guys who have played more than we have across the board, even defensively when we talk about schemes.

“We’ve gotta see what they can handle and then it’s their job to be a pro. They have to learn it and ultimately if they’re not picking up on all the details, we’re not doing good enough jobs as coaches.”

Despite the process the Stamps are going through, Thursday’s tilt with the Argos is nevertheless an important game on the schedule. You might even argue it’s must-win, and not for all the normal clichéd reasons that football players use when they say every game is must-win.

The team’s schedule isn’t about to get any easier. Next weekend, they’ll travel to Ottawa for a game against a Redblacks team that beat them in Week 1 and always seems to give the Stampeders trouble.

After that, they’ve got a five-game stretch that features three matchups with the red-hot Edmonton Eskimos, one against the West Division-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers and another against the surprising Montreal Alouettes.

There’s sure to be a loss or two in there, so if the Stampeders want to stay within striking distance of the Bombers and Eskimos they certainly can’t afford to lose against a beatable Argos team.

Whether or not you want to call it a trap-game, it’s one the Stampeders need to win.

“It’s a must-win,” said Stamps defensive back Jamar Wall. “We’re still trying to find our way and prove it to ourselves, let alone everybody else. We know we’re a good team but we have to put it out there. If we can just show ourselves that we can connect and do what we can do and each phase is playing great, then yeah, I think this is a must-win.”

daustin@postmedia.com

www.twitter.com/DannyAustin_9

Comments