CALGARY — Joe Burnett was looking forward to experiencing Labour Day's Battle of Alberta from the other side.
The Calgary Stampeders cornerback, who was recently an Edmonton Eskimo, wanted to continue his new team's dominance against his former club.
The Stampeders take an 11-game winning streak against the Eskimos — three of them Labour Day victories — into Monday's annual holiday clash at McMahon Stadium.
Calgary (7-2) and Edmonton (6-3) sit first and second respectively in the CFL's West Division at the halfway mark of the season. The game pits the Stampeder offence that is among the best in the league against an Eskimos defence that ranks first in 13 statistical categories.
Burnett was released April 2 by Edmonton after three seasons wearing the green and gold and was picked up by Calgary just over a week later. He'll face his former teammates for the first time Monday and again Saturday in the rematch in Edmonton.
"You want to prove yourself and come up and show them that you're not just Joe who was an Eskimo," Burnett said Sunday at McMahon. "Now you're Joe that's with Calgary and you're that much better.
"You always have that game, when you're released by a team, you always want to go out and play well because you've got brothers over there who are watching you of course. You want to go out and get your name in the paper and play sound and play fast."
The 28-year-old Central Florida product apprenticed at strong side linebacker behind Keon Raymond his first five games with the Stampeders before Buddy Jackson's hamstring injury created an opening for Burnett at cornerback.
In four starts for Calgary, Burnett has compiled a dozen tackles and an interception.
"I came into it being a depth guy, wanting to put my hand in the pile and help out where ever I can," he said. "I was behind Keon, but got my opportunity to play the boundary."
Burnett was a CFL rookie when he returned an interception on Stampeder quarterback Kevin Glenn for a touchdown in the 2012 Labour Day game. The Stampeders held on for a 31-30 win that year.
Both clubs were 7-1 heading into last year's Labour Day game. After sweeping the home-and-home series against the Esks, the Stampeders went 6-2 the remainder of the regular season to post a league-best 15-3 record.
Edmonton went 0-4 against Calgary last year, including a 43-18 loss in the West Division final. The Eskimos haven't beaten the Stampeders since the 2011 Labour Day game when Edmonton prevailed 35-7.
"It's been awhile and what fun is that to be on that end of things?," Eskimos receiver Adarius Bowman said. "We've got a lot of great guys around here so I think it's that time to show that. Our time is now."
In his CFL debut last week, Edmonton quarterback James Franklin threw for 335 yards and a touchdown and ran in another for a 38-15 win over the visiting Argos. The 24-year-old from Oklahoma city will get the ball again in Calgary.
"I'm going out there knowing I can have success if I do the things the coaches coach me up to do," Franklin said. "I've definitely got some confidence from that and hopefully that will turn over into this week."
With No. 1 quarterback Mike Reilly close to returning from a season-opening knee injury, the Eskimos dealt QB Matt Nichols to Winnipeg this past week.
As of Sunday, there were still tickets available Monday afternoon's game, which will be preceded by a flyover by two CF-18 Hornets. The weather forecast was for a high of 13 and some sun.
Notes: Injuries on Edmonton's offensive line has forced the shift of defensive tackle Eddie Steele to right guard . . . Nine-year CFL kicking vet Sean Whyte makes his debut as an Eskimo on Monday. Edmonton signed the former Montreal Alouette and B.C. Lion because of Grant Shaw's calf injury . . . OL Dan Federkeil returns to Calgary's lineup for the first time since breaking a bone in his leg in the third game of the season . . . Stampeders DE Charleston Hughes was also activated after sitting out one game with back issues.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press