Stampeders look to end losing streak against struggling Bombers

The Calgary Stampeders won’t take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lightly when the two teams play at McMahon Stadium on Saturday night.

The Blue Bombers have surprisingly started the season with three straight losses, but Calgary quarterback Jake Maier doesn’t put much stock into Winnipeg’s sluggish start.

“As players we have a ton of respect for them, even where they are right now in the standings and what their record is,” Maier said. “There’s not a single individual in this organization that’s falling for that trap or buying into anything.”

The Blue Bombers are looking to end their struggles by posting their seventh straight win over Calgary (1-1). The Stampeders’ last win over Winnipeg was back in November 2021.

“They’ve got good players on that team,” said Stampeders linebacker Cameron Judge. “They’re well coached. They’ve had our number lately, so I’m not even paying attention to that (0-3 record).

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“We definitely want to beat them regardless of the situation. You’ve just got to come with your pads ready to play a long, physical, tough, 60-minute game. The rest will take care of itself at that point.”

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Maier will make his 30th consecutive start at quarterback for Calgary, which is the longest by any Stampeder since Henry Burris’s streak of 69 games in a row ended in 2011. Included in his all-time record of 14-18 is five losses to Winnipeg, the only CFL club he has never beaten.

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“It’s another opportunity to play really good football at home,” said Maier. “I think that’s the No. 1 priority right now is defending this place, because we haven’t done a very good job of that the last couple years either. We just want to play well at home and they’re just the team that’s coming into town.”

Meanwhile, Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros has compiled a stellar 7-1 record against the Stamps during his time with the Bombers. Boasting a career record of 73-43 (9-5 versus the Stamps), Collaros has never lost a head-to-head start against Maier.

Regardless of the records and previous results from matchups between the two West Division rivals, Calgary coach Dave Dickenson said he believes he has his players ready for a tough battle against Winnipeg, which has appeared in four straight CFL championship finals, winning the Grey Cup in 2019 and 202

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“I do think they’ve had a good run,” said Dickenson of the Bombers. “They have a lot of good players. They’re well coached, but the focus has to be on the Calgary Stampeders.

“Any team in our league can beat us if we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do and playing winning football. It’s really not as much about the opponent. We know we’ve got to beat the teams in the west, though. That’s true. Beat the teams in the west, you’ll make the playoffs and you’ll hopefully have success. Obviously, Winnipeg’s been doing that for years. That’s the formula. We have to do it.”

One player who has had Saturday’s game circled on his calendar is defensive back Demerio Houston, who signed a two-year contract with the Stamps in February.

“It’s definitely a big game for me,” said Houston, who played the previous three seasons for Winnipeg. “We’re definitely going to get their best shot. It’s going to be a dogfight, like I told the team. The last three years in this rivalry, the scores came down to under six points. So don’t look at the record, don’t look at who’s on the roster … just be prepared for a dogfight.”

Among Houston’s league-leading seven interceptions last season was one he ran back 45 yards for a touchdown in Calgary on Aug. 18 to help the Bombers eke out a 19-18 win over the Stamps.

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“I just was able to help out and do my part,” he said. “Now that I’m here with Calgary, that’s what I plan to do is help my team.”

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