Tiger-Cats’ Game Day

Down but not out, Ti­cats say a win will get them on track

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS HAMIL­TON —

The soap opera that is the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats keeps get­ting more in­ter­est­ing.

As if an 0-6 record, in­clud­ing a 60-1 loss to Cal­gary, and a fight be­tween frus­trated play­ers in prac­tice wasn’t enough, the team made moves this week that added tur­moil to its coach­ing ranks and de­fen­sive back­field.

De­spite all the noise, the Ti­cats be­lieve they can turn their sea­son around with a win Satur­day over the vis­it­ing Win­nipeg Blue Bombers (4-2). And they’re not wrong.

A con­fi­dence-build­ing win over the Bombers could set up the Ti­cats for a nice run, as their next four games are against beat­able East op­po­nents (Ot­tawa twice and Toronto) and Saskatchewan, cur­rently in the West Di­vi­sion base­ment.

“One of the things I re­mem­ber from my time in Toronto and my time in Ot­tawa is that you can be in the po­si­tion this team is and still win the Grey Cup,” new Ti­cats as­sis­tant head coach June Jones told re­porters this week, not­ing Ot­tawa won the Cana­dian Foot­ball League ti­tle last sea­son af­ter post­ing an 8-10 reg­u­lar-sea­son record.

“You can’t say that in the NFL, and you can’t say that in col­lege.”

But the Ti­cats are in a state of flux en­ter­ing Satur­day’s game, with mul­ti­ple changes to the coach­ing staff to con­tend with as well as the sur­prise re­lease of de­fen­sive back Will Hill.

Af­ter adding Jones — a 34-year coach­ing vet­eran at the Na­tional Foot­ball League, CFL and Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion lev­els — as his as­sis­tant last week, Hamil­ton head coach and vi­cepres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions Kent Austin re­placed Jeff Reinebold as de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor with Phillip Lol­ley, formerly the line­backer coach.

Hill started five games for Hamil­ton and reg­is­tered 25 de­fen­sive tack­les, sec­ond on the team, and a sack. But he was sus­pended for a game ear­lier this sea­son af­ter mak­ing con­tact with an of­fi­cial. “We did it be­cause we felt it was best for the foot­ball team,” Austin said Wed­nes­day of Hill’s re­lease. “We want guys that un­der­stand what it means to be a team­mate, and to play in a team sport. That’s all I’ll say.”

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