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Looking to regain form

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the Calgary Stampeders.

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Winnipeg at Calgary

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the Calgary Stampeders. The defending Grey Cup champions entered the CFL season as favourites to cruise to the West Division title and again claim a berth in the title game Nov. 29, a contest they happen to be hosting at McMahon Stadium.

But football doesn’t always go according to the script as demonstrated by the Stamps’ 2-3 start that leaves them behind both Saskatchewan and Edmonton in the standings. While being stuck in third place early in the campaign is hardly a disaster, head coach John Hufnagel holds much higher expectations for his underperforming club when it hosts Winnipeg on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s a big game again the way the West is this season,” Hufnagel suggested this week. “It’s going to be a tight race and we want to be a part of that tight race. To do that we have to get back to .500 and that means we need a win against Winnipeg.”

The Stampeders have suffered injuries to key personnel, including receivers Ken-Yon Rambo, gone for the season with a knee injury, and Ryan Thelwell, day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

“We’re facing some adversity and we have to respond the right way,” said Hufnagel. “We always talk about how cyclical the season can be. It’s going to have some ups and downs, its not going to be smooth sailing … well, it’s definitely not that way for us this year. We have to find our own way to get out of this thing and play better football for 60 minutes each and every game.”

Fans attending the game are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food items or a cash donation at stadium gates. In return, fans can have their photo taken with the Grey Cup and enter a draw to win tickets to the 2009 Grey Cup game. Less than 1,000 tickets remain for the Cup Clash, guaranteeing a sellout.

As part of Saturday’s Family Day theme, there will be games, face painting, balloons, prizes and giveaways for children prior to kickoff in the Stampeders’ Festival Zone (located on the east side of McMahon Stadium). At halftime, participants from the 18th annual Little Miss Outrider clinic will perform on the field.