Ot­tawa is con­fi­dent head­ing into Grey Cup

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - LISA WAL­LACE

OT­TAWA — Be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son even started, Rick Camp­bell had a feel­ing some­thing spe­cial was brew­ing with his Ot­tawa Red­blacks.

“As we were go­ing through train­ing camp, I just thought there was some­thing about these guys — that they had the right spirit to them, the right fight,” the Red­blacks head coach said. “I re­mem­ber go­ing to play that (pre-sea­son) game in Guelph (against the Toronto Arg­onauts) when there’s ba­si­cally very few peo­ple watch­ing that game, and our guys fought and didn’t care that it was a pre-sea­son game, and those are just re­ally good traits to have.”

Camp­bell’s thoughts were val­i­dated last Sun­day when the Red­blacks ham­mered the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats 46-27 in the Cana­dian Foot­ball League East fi­nal to ad­vance to the Grey Cup game. The Red­blacks met with re­porters in Ot­tawa on Tues­day be­fore fly­ing to Ed­mon­ton to be­gin prepa­ra­tions for Sun­day’s ti­tle tilt against the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers.

It is Ot­tawa’s third trip to the fi­nal in the fran­chise’s five-year his­tory.

Over the course of the sea­son, Camp­bell and his coach­ing staff made player de­ci­sions that weren’t al­ways pop­u­lar, like sidelin­ing long-serv­ing of­fen­sive line­man Jon Gott on the bench.

“I told the guys the day be­fore this last game there’s some re­ally good foot­ball play­ers that aren’t play­ing in this game, but that’s the rea­son why we are where we are is be­cause we have a lot of tal­ented peo­ple here,” Camp­bell said. “The No. 1 guide­post we try to use around here is what is best for the Red­blacks and what gives us the best chance to win.”

The Stam­ped­ers have been the CFL’s stan­dard of ex­cel­lence in the reg­u­lar sea­son, but Cal­gary has strug­gled to get the job done when it counts. The Stam­ped­ers have been the los­ing side in the last two Grey Cup games de­spite be­ing heavy favourites.

Cal­gary, with vet­eran quar­ter­back Bo Levi Mitchell at the helm, will be con­sid­ered the favourite again on Sun­day. But no one should un­der­es­ti­mate the Red­blacks and Trevor Har­ris af­ter his per­for­mance in the East Fi­nal.

Har­ris put him­self in elite com­pany with a record-set­ting six touch­down passes and a 90.6 per cent com­ple­tion rate us­ing 10 dif­fer­ent re­ceivers.

Sun­day will be the 32-yearold’s first Grey Cup start.

Har­ris was nearly thrown into ac­tion in 2016 when Henry Bur­ris suf­fered an in­jury in warm-up, but mo­ments be­fore kick­off Bur­ris was cleared to play and led Ot­tawa to a 39-33 over­time vic­tory over Cal­gary.

Now it’s Har­ris’ turn to take the big stage.

“I’m grate­ful. It’s not some­thing I take lightly,” he said. “I put my best foot for­ward ev­ery day and pre­pare my butt off and I’m go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can this week, just like I al­ways have.”

Har­ris be­lieves much of Ot­tawa’s suc­cess has come from at­ten­tion to de­tail and how it pre­pares ev­ery week.

“You can talk about in­trin­sic, ex­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tions and that this is their third Grey Cup and they’re go­ing to play the un­der­dog role and all that kind of stuff, but ev­ery­one knows how good Cal­gary is,” he said. “It’s go­ing to all come down to prepa­ra­tion and ex­e­cu­tion, so we’re just go­ing to do that to the best of our abil­i­ties.”

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