The biggest weekend in Canadian football is finally here. On Saturday Calgary and Laval will battle in the 52nd Vanier Cup in Hamilton before Calgary and Ottawa play in the 104th Grey Cup at BMO Field in Toronto.
This season has been one of the most controversial seasons in CFL history filled with discussions about flags, thrown by coaches or refs, and attendance concerns for the league’s flagship game.
More fuel was added to the fire when the league announced that mascots “Quick Six” and the “Algonquin Loggersports Team” would not be allowed inside BMO Field on Sunday:
— Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) November 22, 2016
The lumberjacks weren’t permitted inside Investors Group Field in Winnipeg last year either, after Edmonton’s complaint, and this year they’ve been kiboshed by the league!
Do you think I could get a chainsaw into BMO to do the deed myself in the stands?
The 15-2-1 Calgary Stampeders head to the Big Smoke to play the 8-9-1 Ottawa RedBlacks and attempt to win their second Grey Cup in three years. Ottawa heads into the game as 9½-point underdogs as they look to avoid a second consecutive Grey Cup loss.
Calgary and Ottawa have met in the Grey Cup twice before, splitting the two meetings in 1948 and 1968. The Stampeders and their fans are credited with turning the Grey Cup into a week-long festival as their fans flocked to Toronto and cheered the Stamps on to a 12-7 win at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium in 1948.
Henry Burris will start his third Grey Cup game in four years and is up against the team that traded him to Hamilton for Kevin Glenn in 2012. Hank won the Grey Cup with Calgary in 2008.
Ottawa and Calgary battled to a 26-26 tie in Week 3 before Calgary crushed Ottawa 48-23 in Week 13.
If you had to describe the 2016 Ottawa RedBlacks in one word, it would be “inconsistent”. They started the season with a 3-0-1 record before losing to a Saskatchewan Roughriders team that started Mitchell Gale at quarterback in Week 5. No matter how much the team tried to bury it, the rest of the season was clouded with quarterback controversy and poor play from the defense. They seemed to put it all together with a big road win in Winnipeg in Week 19 to clinch first in the East Division before squeaking by the Eskimos in the snowiest game in years in last week’s East Final.
Calgary, on the other hand, has been the league’s model of consistency not only for this season, but the past decade. It’s hard to find any weaknesses in their game but they could be without starting offensive linemen Brad Erdos and Cameron Thorn this Sunday. It’s no secret that the Stampeders have no shortage of depth at any position but this is something the RedBlacks need to take advantage of early in the game.
Ottawa enters the game with some significant injuries as well. They lost superstar receiver Chris Williams with an ACL injury earlier this season, offensive tackle SirVincent Rogers is questionable and running back Mossis Madu will miss the Grey Cup following an injury against Edmonton in the East Final. Kienan Lafrance was able to step in for 25 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown to become last week’s unlikely hero. Who thought a kid from Winnipeg could play ball in the snow?
While the Stampeders are the heavy favourites heading into Sunday, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve witnessed Grey Cup magic. No matter what the numbers say, you have to play the game. Beers will be consumed, tears be will shed and this time next week we’ll be waiting for June to get here again…