‘Maybe the Riders don’t want to tackle this week’: Ka’Deem Carey believes Stamps ‘the most battle-tested team’ in CFL

November football. It’s about physicality, resilience, grinding the football down the field and braving the elements.

If you believe Ka’Deem Carey, those are all things the Calgary Stampeders are better at than the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“It’s cold, it’s chilly, maybe the Roughriders don’t want to tackle this week,” the all-star running back quipped Saturday during media availabilities ahead of the West Semi-Final in Regina. “We gotta see. We gotta make them tackle this week.”

Unless the Riders have had a sudden bout of amnesia, the fact that test will be coming from Carey should come as no surprise.

Once looking like a team in jeopardy of missing the playoffs, the Stampeders have battled back to relevancy with an impressive stretch run fueled largely by Carey, who was named the team’s nominee for Most Outstanding Player. While the running back may playfully doubt the Riders’ willingness to step up under less than ideal condition, there can be no questioning the will of his own team after winning six of their last seven to clinch a playoff berth.

“You can say we are probably the most battle-tested team going in here. We were playing these tough teams, week in and out, with our back against the wall, going down against these teams coming back, facing all sides kicks week in and week out,” explained Carey.

“We’re excited. Hopefully we won’t get to go down to that point cause we’re so polished up and ready to go, but we’re ready. We feel like we’ve been the well-tested team going through the season.”

The Riders have the better record, but they haven’t played nearly as well as the Stamps down the stretch. They did hand Calgary their lone loss over that span however, though not before the Stamps had vanquished them twice handedly.

Homefield advantage at Mosaic Stadium in Regina would normally tilt the scales back towards the green and white for the fourth and final matchup, but not in the eyes Carey. That’s because Mosaic is his favourite stadium to play in, although he’s somewhat unspecific on the reasons why.

“It’s loud? I don’t know. Maybe my favorite color is green,” Carey laughed. “I don’t know, but it was probably because the first time I ever played a CFL game, it was here and it was probably the first time I got opportunity and I didn’t let it down.”

That debut came in Week 4 of the 2019 season, when the former fourth round NFL Draft pick revived his career with 13 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. It wouldn’t be his last memorable outing against the Riders either, as Carey has posted 334 yards from scrimmage and a score against Saskatchewan this year, just under a third of his total production.

That included a brilliant outing at Mosaic in Week 10, when Carey had 20 carries for 109 yards and five catches for 69 more, numbers he hopes to repeat Sunday.

“If I get 20 touches again, I’d be excited,” Carey said. ‘Hopefully I put on a show for you guys.”

Regardless of how much he is able to produce personally, the second-year back has complete faith that his team’s road to the Grey Cup will run through Regina — and over the Riders. Sunday will mark the first elimination game in Carey’s career and he’ll be entering it with the best group he’s ever been around.

“I’m excited. This is it,” he emphasized. “I mean, I played for a bum team like the [Chicago] Bears and now I’m on a special team.”

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