Grey Cup 106 Preview - REDBLACKS vs Stampeders
Published: Friday, Nov 23rd 2018, 8:11am
By: Sheldon Jones (@SheldonJones83)
When: Sunday November 25, 2018
Where: Edmonton, Alberta
Where to Watch: TSN or at the Grey Cup Watch Party in Regina Presented by Piffles Podcast, Tall Grass Apparel and Kenton de Jong Travel (Tickets available at Eventbrite.com)
After 181 games spread over almost 6 months, the time has come to crown a new Champion of the Canadian Football League. Fans of all 9 CFL franchises will travel and come together to party and celebrate another Grey Cup in Edmonton. This year’s matchup has both respective 1st place teams facing each other in a rematch of the 104th Grey cup with Calgary looking for redemption for its OT loss against Ottawa.
The path to the Grey Cup has been very different for Ottawa and Calgary. Calgary has had very little momentum leading up to the Western Final. It started in week 17 when the Stampeders traveled east to Montreal and limped out with a very indecisive 6 point victory. They followed that poor showing with 3 consecutive losses to BC, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. They did finish off the season with a victory over the Lions in week 21, spoiling the last regular season game for BC Lions Head Coach Wally Buono before he retires at the end of the season and in doing so, clinched first place in the West and earned a bye straight to the West Final. Ottawa on the other hand ended the regular season on a 3 game winning streak including a home and home sweep of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to clinch first in the East and the extra week off.
In the Eastern Division Semi Final, Hamilton blew out the western crossover BC Lions 48 - 8 in a game that was essentially over in the first quarter. Then an over confident Ti-Cats team travelled to Ottawa and in turn, got blown out. Trevor Harris broke a CFL Playoff record with 6 touchdown passes en route to a 46 - 27 victory to earn their chance to hoist a 2nd Grey Cup in their four year existence. In the West Semi Final, Winnipeg visited Saskatchewan. The Roughriders had expected starting QB Zach Collaros to be recovered from the vicious helmet to helmet hit from BC’s Odell Willis in week 20. TSN’s Dave Naylor broke news the night before the game that Zach would not dress after telling Riders head coach Chris Jones that he was not good to go after a couple days of practice. This left the Blue Bombers with only stopping Brandon Bridge in their way to the Western Final. After a masterful game plan from the trio of HC Mike O’Shea, OC Paul LaPolice and DC Richie Hall the Bombers took away the riders run game and force Bridge to pass on defense and utilized a ball control and mistake free offense to squeak out of Mosaic Stadium with a 23 - 18 win. The boys in Blue then made the trip to Calgary to try to make it back to the Grey Cup for the first time since 2011 and to end their 27 year Grey Cup drought. Winnipeg opened up the scoring with a couple Justin Medlock Field Goals but couldn't get anything going offensively and Calgary did not look back after a pair of second quarter Touchdown passes from QB Bo Levi Mitchell to Eric Rogers. Rogers would add a third TD in the fourth quarter to seal the victory and allow the Stamps to return to the Grey cup for the 3rd straight year and 4th appearance in five years.
If the last time these two teams met in the Grey Cup is any indication, we CFL fans are in for a treat Sunday night. The 2016 Grey Cup was so closely matched that 60 minutes couldn't decide it and they needed overtime to crown a champ. Ottawa won the Grey Cup on the heels of a amazing circus catch by Ernest Jackson. This year Ottawa is firing on all cylinders while Calgary has some question marks. The REDBLACKS offense was explosive in the East Final erupting for 6 TD’s, while their defense only allowed 2 TD’s but had 3 big drive ending interceptions in their victory over Hamilton. One question is whether REDBLACK DB Jonathon Rose will be able to play in the Grey Cup game. Rose was ejected from the game in the last minute of the first half for contact with an official, after getting into a shoving match after making an unnecessary tackle out of bounds. The league is reviewing for supplementary discipline. (Edit: The CFLPA has filed an appeal on behalf of Rose who is expected to play) Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell had trainers looking at his left knee late in the 4th quarter of the West Final but after the game said he was good to go. It will also be interesting to see if HC Dave Dickenson will roll with the same receiving crew or insert DaVaris Daniels back into the lineup. He was apparently ready to go this past week but Dickenson didn't want to mess with the offensive chemistry.
Calgary will be fired up to try to end their Grey Cup losing streak and unlike in the past 2 previous years will most likely be entering the contest as the underdog. Overconfidence has been the downfall of the Stampeders so I look for them to play it safe and try to play mistake free football. I also look for Bo Levi to play smarter and not try to make the big play happen every series. On Ottawa's side I look for them to keep doing what brought them to the show. Harris will look to utilize his offensive weapons in Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson and will look to stretch the field. His knock during his career has been that he can’t handle defensive pressure so i do see Calgary DC Devone Claybrooks to blitz early and often and lean on Micah Johnson and Alex Singleton to disrupt Ottawa's momentum. This will be a close game but look for Bo Levi to hoist one more Grey Cup Trophy before he heads south to try to catch on with a NFL team in the offseason. Final score Calgary 33 Ottawa 29.
Adding to the festivities this year is Grey Cup Halftime performer is Alessia Cara. The grammy winning Brampton, Ontario native will be sure to get the Edmonton crowd up and dancing with possible chart toppers “Scars to Your Beautiful” and “Wild Things”. The Reklaws will look to get the party started during the pregame show undoubtedly performing their CFL Thursday Night Football theme “Long Live the Night”.