Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson is on pace for a record-breaking rookie season.
Dickenson has guided Calgary to a CFL-best 12-1-1 mark, single-season record 13-game unbeaten streak and 11 consecutive victories. The Stampeders haven’t lost since dropping a 20-18 road decision to the B.C. Lions on June 25.
On Monday, Dickenson can register his 13th win of the season when Calgary visits the Toronto Argonauts (5-9) at BMO Field. That would move him into a tie with Adam Rita (1991 with Toronto), John Hufnagel (2008 with Stamps) and Mike Benevides (2012 with B.C.) for most regular-season wins by a first-year head coach.
But Calgary’s winning ways won’t necessarily stop there as its final four regular-season games are against Toronto and the Montreal Alouettes, who are a combined 9-18 this year.
If Calgary can run the table, it would finish with a 16-1-1 record and become just the second team in CFL history to register 16 regular-season victories. In 1989, the Edmonton Eskimos posted a 16-2 record under head coach Joe Faragalli before losing to the eventual Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West final.
Stopping Calgary won’t be easy for a Toronto squad that has lost seven of its past eight games. The Argos are in definite must-win territory as they trail Hamilton (6-8) and Ottawa (6-6-1) in the East Division and are just two points up on Montreal (4-9).
Calgary sports both the CFL’s highest-scoring offence (34.1 points a game) and stingiest defence (22.2). Toronto’s offence is averaging 23 points a game while the defence is allowing 29.9 points a game, second only to Saskatchewan (31.2).
But a bigger concern for Toronto – and Montreal for that matter – is the competitiveness of the West Division. B.C. (9-4) stands second behind Calgary with Winnipeg (8-6) and Edmonton (7-7) close behind.
To secure a postseason berth, either Toronto or Montreal must finish the season with at least as many points than the West Division’s fourth-place finisher. Calgary has already secured a home playoff game but can clinch first in the conference with a win over Toronto and a B.C. loss or tie Friday night against Ottawa.
The Argos will feature rookie Canadian receivers Llevi Noel and Brian Jones in the lineup after the surprising release this week of Americans Vidal Hazelton, Tori Gurley, Kevin Elliott and Phil Bates.
Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Ottawa RedBlacks (Friday night)
Saskatchewan (3-10) comes off the bye looking for a third straight win and second this season over Ottawa after a 30-29 victory in July. Mitchell Gale led the Riders on their game-winning drive against Hamilton on Sept. 24 after starter Darian Durant suffered a head injury, but Durant is expected back under centre. The RedBlacks can earn some much-needed separation over idle Hamilton with a victory. Veteran Trevor Harris threw for 485 yards and two TDs in last week’s 40-33 loss to B.C., but also had an interception returned for a TD.
B.C. Lions vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Saturday night)
After reeling off seven consecutive wins, Winnipeg has lost two straight. A ball-hawking defence anchored the win streak but has forced just two turnovers the past two weeks. Matt Nichols – who had just one interception over the win streak – has been picked off in both defeats. The Bombers can clinch a playoff berth with a win and losses by both Toronto and Montreal. B.C. comes off an exciting 40-33 win over Ottawa as quarterback Jonathon Jennings threw for 348 yards and three TDs. Linebacker Solomon Elimimian added 13 tackles, one off his club record. The Lions can secure a postseason spot with a win or tie, or losses by both the Als and Argos.
Edmonton Eskimos vs. Montreal Alouettes (Monday afternoon)
Edmonton is back in the thick of the West Division playoff race with consecutive wins over Winnipeg and B.C. Mike Reilly has thrown for a combined 655 yards and three TDs in the victories and the Eskimos have also had a 100-yard rusher in each contest. The dual receiving threat of Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker continues to create matchup issues for rival defences. Montreal chases a second straight win under interim head coach Jacques Chapdelaine. The coaching change certainly agreed with Rakeem Cato, who threw four TD passes in last week’s 38-11 victory over Toronto.
Last week: 2-2
Over all: 36-24-1Report Typo/Error