We knew the Calgary Stampeders would have weapons on offence this season. We knew they had playmakers on defence. Now they have possibly the most explosive player on special teams around the entire CFL.
For the second straight week, the Stamps got life early in the game thanks to Roy Finch, the pint-sized return specialist who’s had a roller-coaster season already but is now clearly at the peak of his powers.
On Thursday night, Finch field a punt and head-faked his way through defenders while taking the wide side of the field. He went through the Toronto Argonauts defenders with ease much like he did against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a week earlier, scoring a 103-yard touchdown.
In that home game, Finch woke his team — and the crowd — up with his big play. The same thing happened on Thursday.
Combined with a defence that has been swarming and stifling the past three games, and an offence that is balanced with Jerome Messam running and Bo Levi Mitchell distributing, the Stamps are looking deadly right now.
And here’s the rub. Mitchell, among many other players, including receiver Lemar Durant who went down with a suspected knee injury on Thursday in Toronto, get a bye week to rest up and refocus for a crucial time in their schedule when many of them are fighting through aches and pains.
Coming out of the break, the Stamps face the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos twice in a five-game span, with a home rematch against the Argos tucked in there, so this break comes at a great time.
In their past three games, the Stamps have outscored their opponents 128-35, an average of 42-11. This is a team that doesn’t usually strive for a blowout, but they’ve been so much better than the opposition the past three weeks that they couldn’t help but posting big scores.
Mitchell said after the game that there are improvements to be made in all three phases and he’s probably right, as there were a couple of turnovers via fumble on offence and Mitchell was under a lot of pressure against the Argos, surrounding six sacks.
But the mistakes are easily masked over seeing as how the defence erased one of those turnovers with one of their own. Once again DeVone Claybrooks’ group created havoc in the backfield, and one of the would-be turnovers — Michael Kashak crumpling Ricky Ray and sending him out with an arm/shoulder injury — didn’t even count as it was called back by penalty.
Since losing the Montreal Alouettes in Week 4, the Stamps seem determined to assert themselves back to the top of the CFL power rankings.
They improve to 5-1-1, which puts them behind the undefeated Edmonton Eskimos right now with a large-scale Labour Day doubleheader on the horizon.
But the Stamps are now scary in all facets of the game after knocking off the East Division leaders with ease.
Finch has a lot to do with that, and he certainly earned the team’s hard hat for best effort on Thursday night.
Remember, early this season Finch sat out two games due to a drug suspension, and the team brass was obviously miffed that he failed to get clearance on a product for which he could have been exempted.
Finch sat out the two games, and had to watch as Tunde Adeleke returned a punt for a touchdown in his place, but he’s come back focused and motivated.
He’s making the most of this second chance. If he keeps this up, it gives the Stamps just another breakout player and someone that can give the opposition fits.
That’s just what they need as they head into a week of self-evaluation and reflection.
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