The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–The Ottawa Redblacks have a playoff spot locked up but there’s still plenty to play for in the last game of the regular season.
The Redblacks (7-9-1) host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (5-11) tonight at TD Place with a chance for its third division title on the line.
An Ottawa win would move them into first place in the East–one point ahead of the Toronto Argonauts (8-9-0).
The Redblacks then will need to wait a week to learn their fate as the Argonauts close out the regular season Nov. 4 against the B.C. Lions.
“Our main goal is just to win and after that the cards will just fall however it may be,” said defensive back Nick Taylor.
“We can only worry about what we can control.”
Taylor will be in for Jerrell Gavins, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at practice this week.
Taylor has been in and out of the lineup this season due to injury, but knows this is an opportunity for him.
“It’s been a tough year for me, injury-wise, so just coming back and being healthy is a good feeling,” said the Hollywood, Fla. native.
“I just want to come out and give my best effort, and help the team be strong throughout the rest of the season.”
Ottawa knows it will need to be at its best against a much-improved Hamilton team.
The Redblacks learned first-hand last month what a bad idea it can be to underestimate the Tiger-Cats when they were defeated 26-22.
“We’ve got to make sure we bring our ‘A’ game,” stressed Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris.
“Their defensive backs are very aggressive and they’re playing for jobs next year, and they want to put some good film out there so we know they’re going to come to play [Friday].”
The Redblacks know they need to find a way to contain Hamilton QB Jeremiah Masoli, who’s so good at frustrating defences with his running game.
“He does a good job if the play breaks down that he can use his feet,” said Redblacks’ head coach Rick Campbell.
“Whether we need to have a guy spying him to take care of him or our ‘D’-line doing a great job of staying in their pass-rush lanes,” he noted.
“But at the same time, I don’t want to be too conservative as we need to cut our ‘D’-line loose and get after him and make him uncomfortable.”
The Redblacks also will be missing receiver Brad Sinopoli, whose season came to an end with a shoulder injury.
As well, Ottawa is missing wide receiver Josh Stangby and offensive linemen SirVincent Rogers and Nolan MacMillan.
Despite the mounting list of injuries, the motto among the Redblacks remains next man up.
“It’s critical that you have mentally tough individuals in your locker-room,” stressed Harris.
“As a team, it’s about losing a very important guy and coming out there and everybody raising their level of play to make up for that and account for that.”
William Powell likely already would be in the Redblacks’ record books had he remained healthy all season, but the running back still has a chance to become the team’s first player to rush for 1,000 yards.
Powell needs 107 yards tonight to reach the milestone.
This season he’s broken the 100-yard mark three times, with a season high 187-yard performance last month.
“I wasn’t even aware it was a possibility,” admitted Powell.
“Now we’re just focused on getting back to first place and doing whatever we need to do to get the win,” he said.
“I’m feeling good and I’m ready to roll.”