Two teams that share a turf come together on Friday night at McMahon Stadium.
The Stampeders are hosting their annual Day Of The Dino game this weekend when they welcome the Saskatchewan Roughriders at 7:30 p.m. (Tickets). The game celebrates the partnership between the Red & White and the University of Calgary Dinos.
There are 50 Dinos that have played for the Stamps over the years, including five on the current team. Defensive back Nick Statz is among those and said there is something special about being a Dino.
“It’s been such a strong program,” he explained. “Growing up in Calgary you really want to get to that level. That’s a huge aspiration for a lot of kids that play football here. It’s a very professional organization, the coaches are great, the alumni association is great and you just have a lot of people that care about the sport.”
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Another former Dino, offensive lineman Sean McEwen, said there are so many great memories from his time with the team from 2011-2015.
“Our 2013 Vanier Cup run was a big one,” he said. “Obviously we came up a little bit short but that team was not expected to do a lot and we overachieved so that group was a tight group of guys.”
Statz has some great memories of his own as well.
“I was there for a while,” Statz said with a laugh. “The 2016 Vanier Cup run was pretty special as a younger player but some specific moments obviously Nico (DiFonte) 59-yard field-goal in 2017 for the Hardy Cup was pretty cool and the Vanier Cup run in my senior year (2019) was special too.”
McEwen was pretty well known around the Calgary football circle prior to joining the Dinos. He played on both sides of the ball for Notre Dame in Calgary before making the jump.
He says the Dinos program really helped shape him into the person he is today.
“Shape is a great word, it’s such a professional environment,” McEwen explained. “It gave me the opportunity to excel as a football player and be able to make that next step to the pro level.”
The two former Dinos crossed paths in McEwen’s senior year and Statz’s freshman year in 2015, but their families had lots of crossover in the sport before then.
“I played with Sean’s little brother, Jack, in high school,” said Statz. “And Sean’s been one of the biggest football players name wise in Calgary and is having an amazing CFL career. Before that he was an all-star every year for the Dinos so you look up to those guys when you get into the program. He was a great guy to have mentoring the young guys.”
McEwen was a fan of Statz right from the start of the defensive backs Dino career.
“Nick and his brother were on our team, he was a guy right from the start that worked hard and got it done on the field.”