Tiger-Cats don’t want to see too much of Sewell

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS

ED­MON­TON — Hamil­ton TigerCat long snapper Aaron Craw­ford — mildly ad­dicted to the lat­est video game craze — found a Poke­mon Go char­ac­ter sit­ting on team­mate Mike Filer’s lap this week.

“He was on the trainer’s ta­ble and I don’t know if he coaxed it there …. I don’t know the whole story. I can’t speak for the Poke­mon,” Craw­ford said.

“I just walked in and saw it. And I got it.”

Un­for­tu­nately for the Ti­cats, Filer’s abil­ity to lure Poke­mon to the Ti­cats’ fa­cil­ity — Craw­ford also cap­tured one while sit­ting in the hot tub — will be the ex­tent of his con­tri­bu­tion to the team this week. The vet­eran cen­tre has an an­kle in­jury that will keep him out of Satur­day’s game against Ed­mon­ton. And that poses a prob­lem. If Eski­mos’ de­fen­sive tackle Al­mondo Sewell was a Poke­mon char­ac­ter, he’d prob­a­bly be the rare, lethal and slightly pudgy Snor­lax.

A CFL all-star last sea­son, the six-foot-four, 288 pounder is the type of player who re­quires game­plan­ning even with a full com­pli­ment of ex­pe­ri­enced line­men.

But with Filer down, the Ti­cats will go with sec­ond-year man Mathieu Gi­rard, mak­ing his first ca­reer CFL start.

The cen­tre po­si­tion, with all its ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, is a tough one un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances — never mind hav­ing Sewell to con­tend with. Poke­mon balls are un­likely to be much use in slow­ing him down.

“You have to be con­scious of it. He’s go­ing to be a prob­lem for any­one in the league,” said Ti­cat quar­ter­back Jeremiah Ma­soli. “The num­ber one thing we can do is get the ball out quickly and af­ter that there are scheme things we can do.”

Ma­soli’s mo­bil­ity, a tool the Ti­cats haven’t re­ally uti­lized much this sea­son, could also be of use. Oth­er­wise, find­ing an of­fen­sive rhythm — al­ready elu­sive — will be next to im­pos­si­ble.

Mov­ing the foot­ball hasn’t been an is­sue for Ed­mon­ton, with quar­ter­back Mike Reilly av­er­aged more than 400 yards pass­ing a game. Mean­while, the Ti­cats de­fence is ranked No. 1 against the pass. And they use re­lent­less pres­sure — they racked up eight sacks in last week’s win over Mon­treal — to get to the quar­ter­back.

Some­times the pre­dictable things are also true: Ed­mon­ton head coach Ja­son Maas (a for­mer Ti­cat quar­ter­back who also serves as the team’s of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor) says that Satur­day’s game will likely be de­cided in trenches

“It’s an old cliché, but that’s where the bat­tles are won,” Maas said. “When you feel like that’s one of your strengths and you go up against a team where they feel it’s one of their strengths, some­thing has to give.”

Maas is in his first sea­son as a head coach af­ter stints in Toronto and Ot­tawa as an as­sis­tant. De­fen­sive tackle Ed­die Steele says the cul­ture hasn’t changed much af­ter the de­par­ture of Chris Jones to Saskatchewan, fol­low­ing the team’s Grey Cup win last Novem­ber.

“We have some young guys, but we’re a vet­eran team, so we know how to han­dle the task at hand,” said Steele. “He saw there was a pres­ence here and he didn’t need to recre­ate the wheel, just mould it the way he wanted.”

The Eski­mos have gussied up their game day pre­sen­ta­tion on Satur­day, bring­ing in record­ing artist Flo Rida for a half­time per­for­mance and hold­ing a … wait for it … Poke­mon event be­fore the game, en­cour­ag­ing fans to come early and chase aug­mented-re­al­ity char­ac­ters around the sta­dium.

But don’t ex­pect the Eskimo quar­ter­back to be wan­der­ing around star­ing at his phone.

“I don’t catch foot­balls or Poke­mon, I leave that to other peo­ple,” Reilly said, chuck­ling. “That’s not my style.” Craw­ford, too, will take a pass. “They can keep their Poke­mon. The only thing I want from them is a win.”

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