Realty One

Saturday, June 11, 2016

CALGARY - A pair of former CFL quarterbacks making head-coaching debuts added an extra wrinkle to Saturday's pre-season Battle of Alberta.

Jason Maas and the Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos downed Dave Dickenson and the Calgary Stampeders 23-13 in the first exhibition game of 2016 for both clubs.

"It's been two weeks and basically six months of preparation to get to this point, but football is football once you step on the field,'' Maas said following the game.

"It's a game I've been a part of for a long time now. Being the head coach, making more decisions is what it's about, and preparation. I felt comfortable in the role.''

Maas, 40, was an offensive co-ordinator for the Ottawa Redblacks last season. Edmonton had a vacancy at head coach after Chris Jones departed for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Dickenson, 43, is the new-ish head coach in Calgary. He'd been on the coaching staff for seven seasons and most recently as offensive co-ordinator and assistant head coach.

There was a succession plan in place for him to take over for John Hufnagel, who continues on as the team's GM.

But for the first time since Nov. 11, 2007, the Stampeders had someone other than Hufnagel as their field general.

"Dave and I have both been a part of the CFL for quite a long time and we've both been quarterbacks which means you're both involved in game planning and usually involved with the offence as a whole,'' Maas said.

"You're a manager now more than anything. That comes with experience, to learn that and be better at that, but as far as the football game management goes, I think both of us will be fine and capable of it.''

Anthony Barrett and Bryant Mitchell each had touchdown catches for the Eskimos on Saturday.

Quarterback Jordan Lynch scored on a one-yard plunge for the Esks. He did the same to score the winning touchdown in Edmonton's 26-20 victory over the Redblacks in last November's Grey Cup.

Sean Whyte kicked a 49-yard field goal for the defending Grey Cup champions, but missed from 49, 38 and 42 yards.

Stampeder defensive back Ciante Evans scored on 76-yard fumble return in the fourth quarter.

Rene Paredes made field goals from 23 and 14 yards in front of an announced 28,367 at McMahon Stadium.

Maas and Dickenson started their No. 1 quarterbacks briefly in the opening quarter before sending out all their backups.

Bo Levi Mitchell completed five of six passes for 56 yards on Calgary's opening drive before taking a seat. Edmonton No. 1 Mike Reilly lasted two drives, going 5 for 8 for 54 yards.

James Franklin threw for 94 yards, including a touchdown pass to Barrett, in the first half before giving way to Lynch and Thomas DeMarco in the second.

Lynch led the Esks in rushing with 36 yards. He ran for a touchdown, threw a four-yard scoring pass to Bryant Mitchell and finished 6 for 10 in passing for 55 yards. DeMarco completed three of seven passes for 13 yards.

Calgary's Drew Tate was 7 for 12 in passing for 67 yards before he was replaced by Canadian university star Andrew Buckley for the final three minutes of the first half.

The two-time winner of the Hec Crighton Trophy that goes to the top player in university football finished the night 6 for 10 in passing for 74 yards. Bryant Moniz threw two interceptions on four passes in the second half.

Calgary receiver Joe West had 80 receiving yards by the end of the opening quarter.

But it was the defence producing the host team's lone TD, however, when Evans ran the ball in off a DeMarco fumble at 4:22 of the final quarter.

Lynch dove on a third-and-one for a TD at 7:17 of the third quarter, followed by the touchdown throw to Mitchell at 11:40.

Franklin found Barrett in the end zone with a 15-yard pass to score the game's first touchdown at 9:12 of the second quarter.

The two clubs posting league-best 14-4 records in 2015 traded field goals on their opening drives.

The Stampeders conclude their pre-season on the road against the B.C. Lions next Friday and return to Vancouver to open the regular season June 25.

The Eskimos are at home to Saskatchewan next Saturday. They open at home June 25 against the Redblacks in the traditional rematch of the previous year's Grey Cup finalists.

(Canadian Press)

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