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18th of November 2018

International



Winning CFL’s East within reach as Ticats ready for crucial home and home set versus Redblacks

The stage is set for the battle of the East, a two-team race and two games that could potentially determine who finishes atop the standings and earns that bye into the divisional final.

Out West, the playoff posturing is just as intense, if not more because there are more teams in the hunt with the real possibility of one of them not making the playoffs despite with a winning record.

What’s known is that Ottawa and Hamilton will have a playoff game, but the key date is Nov. 18 when the East final is played, either in the Hammer or in Ottawa against a Western opponent that has yet to be determined.

The Redblacks beat the Ticats in Hamilton in late July, a 21-15 win that featured seven Lewis Ward field goals.

This Friday night, the Redblacks will play host to the Ticats, who will then welcome Ottawa to Tiger Town the following Saturday.

Both teams sit at 8-7, but technically Ottawa is in first because of its win in Hamilton.The Ticats help themselves with a sweep, which will allow them to wrap up first and rest players in the season finale at home against Montreal.

But if they split, they will need the Argos to beat the Redblacks in the season finale on Nov. 2 to finish first.

QBs Jeremiah Masoli and Trevor Harris need to be at their best and the one that limits mistakes will give his team the best chance to win.

June Jones and Rick Campbell are the two head coaches who have brought their respective teams to this critical point in the season. Jerry Glanville and Noel Thorpe are the defensive co-ordinators known for their aggressive styles.

Brandon Banks and Diontae Spencer are game breakers at wide receiver.If Terrell Sinkfield, who was on Hamilton’s roster, but didn’t play in the team’s 36-20 victory over the Argonauts on Friday night, is a quick learner, he’ll be up this week to provide another deep threat and returner.

“If we had lost this game, the home and home with Ottawa wouldn’t have meant anything,’’ Jones said after his team completed a three-game season sweep.

“We said before the season we wanted an opportunity to get to the playoffs with the potential of having a bye in the first weekend.

“That’s still a reality and we can pull it off, but you have to play them one at a time.”

Many viewed Friday’s matchup as one of those proverbial trap games for Hamilton, given the hard times in Toronto and the magnitude of the coming two weeks against Ottawa.

At least early on, the Argos were competitive, playing the Ticats to a 10-10 draw until Hamilton created separation in the second half.

“Everyone has bought into what we’re doing,’’ Jones said. “We said it even before we went into the bye (following a one-sided home win against the B.C. Lions). If we don’t win this game, all we’ve done all year is for naught.

“This was a big game, a playoff game. Every game here on out is a playoff game.”Jones is right because every game now has playoff repercussions, but in particular the next two.

In football, the next game is always the biggest and there’s no other way to describe what lies ahead this week for both the Ticats and Redblacks.

When he reflects on the loss to the Redblacks in their first meeting, Jones says his unit now has a better understanding of the offence.

“We didn’t answer the bell,’’ said Jones. “We gave them a short field, turnovers, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do on offence.”

The loss dropped Hamilton’s record to 2-4, while Ottawa improved to 4-2. Since then, the Ticats have gone 6-3, the Redblacks 4-5.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us on the road,’’ said Jones.

It shouldn’t be any other way.

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