HAMMER CATCHES TI­CATS FEVER

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - MIKE GANTER mgan­ter@post­media.com

It’s been a while since Ti­cats line­backer Si­moni Lawrence has seen the city of Hamil­ton this jazzed about its Tiger-Cats.

Lawrence was a key part of those 2013 and 2014 Ti­cats teams that went to the Grey Cup. He knows what a com­pet­i­tive team can do to this town and how im­por­tant a win­ning team is to the local fan base.

But he had al­most for­got­ten what that felt like un­til he de­cided to go for a lit­tle stroll among the peo­ple down­town ear­lier this week.

“It’s ridicu­lous in Hamil­ton right now,” Lawrence said. “I just went for a lit­tle walk in Hamil­ton Thurs­day and I for­got that I was in Hamil­ton and I got mobbed. I was like ‘Damn, I for­got how cool I was.’”

Within the locker-room, that be­lief has been grow­ing since Day 1 and has so­lid­i­fied rapidly dur­ing three suc­ces­sive wins. Now it’s catch­ing on among the fan base and Lawrence couldn’t be hap­pier.

The tim­ing of the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers’ visit couldn’t come at a bet­ter time for this team, whose con­fi­dence is at a sea­son high.

“We al­ways take Cal­gary down to the wire and al­ways get dis­ap­pointed,” Lawrence said. “This year there is a quiet con­fi­dence in the group and we are ready for it.”

Lawrence isn’t the only one that be­lieves that.

The league this week re­leased its an­nual nu­mer­i­cal break­down on the odds of teams get­ting to and win­ning a Grey Cup.

The Tiger-Cats’ odds go­ing into Week 14 of mak­ing it to the Grey Cup game are a league-high 77.54 per cent. That’s bet­ter odds than the 61.14 per cent league-lead­ing Cal­gary has.

The Stamps, though, still own the best odds to win the Grey Cup game at 41.14 per cent com­pared to Hamil­ton, which is given a 28.25 per cent chance.

Ti­cats de­fen­sive end Adrian Tracy heard about the odds, but cor­rectly points out those are just based on num­bers and pro­jec­tions. The Ti­cats still have to go out and get it done.

But ask Tracy or Lawrence or any of the Ti­cats if they be­lieve it’s pos­si­ble and the unan­i­mous an­swer is a re­sound­ing yes.

Both sides of the foot­ball — of­fence and de­fence — share this con­fi­dence. The de­fence un­der Jerry Glanville has prob­a­bly been the more con­sis­tent of the two groups, but the of­fence ap­pears to have caught up.

Lawrence loves the at­ti­tude of the Hamil­ton de­fence.

“We just run to the ball and hit ev­ery­thing that moves,” he said. “We put a lot of fear in peo­ple, which you can see just watch­ing tape. Watch­ing guys drop to the ground or look around be­cause they know if they’re not on the group they are go­ing to have 12 peo­ple hit­ting you no mat­ter what. If he’s not touch­ing the ground we are go­ing to come and get some flesh.”

On of­fence, Jeremiah Ma­soli has this team torch­ing de­fences. His pin­point pass­ing — that ac­cu­racy par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive when he’s on the move — makes the game look easy.

They’ve lost three start­ing re­ceivers in Shaw­mad Cham­bers, Chris Wil­liams, and most re­cently Jalen Saun­ders and they are still rack­ing up yardage like few other teams in the league.

Only the Stam­ped­ers can boast the same feared dou­ble-pronged at­tack the Ti­cats have.

It’s what makes Satur­day’s game such a must-watch for any­one with CFL love in their blood.

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