REDBLACKS VS. STAMPEDERS:
A full preview of today’s 106th Grey Cup
EDMONTON — In a game that some people are giving the Ottawa Redblacks a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, two quarterbacks will be very much in the spotlight.
While there are plenty of other variables involved with the Redblacks trying to beat the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup for the second time in the past three years, front and centre will be Trevor Harris against Bo Levi Mitchell
Redblacks receiver Brad Sinopoli, who was a Stampeder from 2011 to 2014, has a pretty good handle on both players. It was Mitchell who beat out Sinopoli, a former University of Ottawa star, for the job as Calgary’s thirdstring quarterback in 2012. Sinopoli switched to receiver.
“They’re different personalities,” Sinopoli said. “They both have that work ethic to put in the time. Quarterback doesn’t just happen, you have to do extra meeting time. You can’t just go in there for the 4½ hours that we’re in there and expect to be a great quarterback.
“They’re as much involved in the offence as the coaches. They’re pretty much coaches on the field. They both have very good arms. Trevor’s a very accurate guy, he’s very much in tune with his mechanics and footwork and all that stuff. Not to say Bo isn’t, but Bo makes a lot of throws off balance … he’s got the arm strength to do it. That’s what I saw when I was battling him for the thirdstring job. He was making a lot of throws that, man, they were good throws and hard to do.”
Neither Sinopoli nor Harris is particularly fond of the spotlight, and they have an interesting ritual.
“One of us will walk up and go, ‘Man, I’m so sorry, I’m so bad at football today,’ ” Sinopoli said. “We’ll talk about how bad we are, which seems funny and weird. That helps us get in a focused on mindset. It helps us to talk each other down.”
The Redblacks are 4½-point underdogs in this Canadian Football League championship contest. Of course, they were also heavy underdogs in 2016 when they beat the Stampeders 39-33 in overtime and won the Grey Cup. The players laugh at things like point spreads and odds that suggest they won’t win.
“When our chemistry is good, we’re the best team in this league, hands down … no record matters,” Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose said. “When your backs are against the wall, it doesn’t matter if nobody believes in you. As long as the people you’re going to war with believe, you can achieve anything.”
“Underdog or favourite, we don’t care,” defensive back Antoine Pruneau said. “We know nothing is guaranteed and we’re going to have to work for it.”
“When we put in our work and play our best football, we should be able to beat any team,” defensive back Sherrod Baltimore said.
There are some common denominators between the Redblacks of 2016 and 2018, but so much has changed, too. Two years ago, the Redblacks were coming off an 8-9-1 regular season, while the Stampeders were 15-2-1. This season, Ottawa finished strong at 11-7, while Calgary was 13-5.
The Stampeders beat the Redblacks both times they played in the regular season, with Ottawa struggling greatly on offence in 24-14 and 27-3 losses.
“I’m so excited, I can barely speak,” Ottawa linebacker Kyries Hebert said. “It’s huge. This game is everything. The best team’s going to win. They’ve been a very good team for a very long time. This is their third Grey Cup in a row, so they know what it’s like to play in a big game.”
Harris will need to rise to the occasion. He finished well, but against Calgary in the early regular-season matchups he completed just 27 of 51 passes for 228 yards, with three interceptions.