Star running back Cornish hoping to provide spark for Stamps against Lions

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampeders will welcome Jon Cornish back to their lineup when they face the B.C. Lions on Friday night at McMahon Stadium.

Cornish missed the past six games due to a broken right thumb he suffered in the first half of Calgary’s 29-26 overtime road loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on July 24. The 30-year-old running back wants to prove that he can return to the form that saw him win the last three CFL rushing titles.

“Right now I’m ready,” Cornish said. “I want to make the threat a very real and a very tangible thing (on Friday).

“I want to make these guys on the (Lions) and people around the league know that these fresh legs are here to stay.”

On the heels of Calgary’s 27-16 road loss to the Edmonton Eskimos last Saturday, Stamps coach and general manager John Hufnagel said he’s happy to have Cornish back in the mix against the Lions.

“He’s a very welcome addition back on the field, no question about it,” Hufnagel said. “I know he’s anxious. He’s ready to go. He’s had a good week of practice, so hopefully he can be a factor in the game.”

B.C. linebacker Adam Bighill, who leads the CFL with 69 tackles, said that the Lions will definitely have to be wary of what Cornish can do when he has the ball.

“That’s definitely a boost for their offence,” said Bighill. “I’ve played Cornish for a lot of years now. He’s a great running back. We’ve just got to be able to contain that and from there move onto what (quarterback) Bo Levi (Mitchell) does.”

While Lions running back Andrew Harris currently leads the CFL in rushing with 633 yards through 10 games, he only managed three yards on four carries during B.C.’s 31-18 loss to Ottawa at home last Sunday. He enters play 308 yards ahead of Cornish on the season.

“After the last couple weeks how they’ve gone for me, it’s definitely motivation this week to get it going,” said Harris. “No lead’s safe against Jon Cornish. I wish I could have got a little more ahead of him obviously in the last couple games. I’m looking forward to duelling it out for the rest of the season here.”

With Travis Lulay on the six-game injured list with a sprained knee ligament, John Beck will start at quarterback for the Lions. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 207 yards against the Redblacks to go with one touchdown and two interceptions.

“As an athlete, any time you don’t get the outcome or result you want, you want to move ahead to the next week,” said Beck. “You want to move ahead to the next game. Our team feels prepared. Now it’s just about going out and executing the best that we can.”

Calgary defensive lineman Charleston Hughes said the Stamps also believe they’re prepared to contain Beck and the B.C. offence. He’s tied with Jamaal Westerman of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the CFL lead with nine sacks.

“I just know (Beck) is an experienced quarterback and he has the possibility to make plays,” said Hughes. “My goal is to keep tallying up sacks. As long as Stu (Stamps defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler) puts me in great position to keep making plays, I can’t say nothing else about it.”

While the Stamps have gone 2-3 on the road, they have a perfect 6-0 record at home.

Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press