Stampeders vs. Redblacks Grey Cup Deja-Vu?

106th Grey Cup Matchup Not So Similar To 104th Bout

By: Jerred Bapty

Sunday, November 25, 2018

EDMONTON -- The logos may be the same, but the mindset and members of the Ottawa Redblack and the Calgary Stampeders are completely different.

Ottawa and Calgary met in the 104th Grey Cup back in 2016 under somewhat different circumstances to this 106th championship game.

The first and most obvious difference is the location. Edmonton will be much colder than Toronto was in 2016, with a greater chance of snow for 2018’s title match. However, the last time the Grey Cup was hosted out west, Calgary was victorious. 

The real differences are in the personnel and mindset of the players involved. 

The Stampeders are in their third straight Grey Cup, while the Redblacks make their third appearance in their 5-year history. The current rosters of both teams have undergone some drastic changes from two years ago, more so Ottawa than Calgary.

First of all, the biggest change for the Redblacks is their starting Quarterback Trevor Harris. He backed up Henry Burris in 104th and Burris retired after leading Ottawa to their first Grey Cup victory and his 3rd career championship. Since then, Harris has worked tirelessly to prove he can be a starter in the CFL and broke a playoff record for this year most touchdown passes thrown in the East Final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on the 18th. 

Ottawa has gained three offensive weapons that have outperformed those they lost since 2016, those being Running Back William Powell and receivers RJ Harris and Diontae Spencer. 

Powell was second in league rushing yards this season, while Spencer was 9th in league receiving yards and 6th in passes caught. Harris was right up there too. 

On defence, the Redblacks added three studs to bolster their back-end from 2016. Defensive Back Rico Murray tied Jonathan Rose with 5 interceptions this season, while Corey Tindal led the Redblacks in total and defensive tackles. Kevin Brown wasn’t too far behind. 

Ottawa has also benefitted from the services of the Rookie of the Year and Special Teams player Award nominee Lewis Ward, who broke the CFL and gridiron football record for most consecutive field goals made. 

Calgary is a bit more unique. 

While there has been little personnel changeover from the Stampeders’ two previous Grey Cup appearances, Calgary suffered multiple injuries that forced them to bring in some new faces along with the natural turnover that each CFL team sees every season. 

Before he got hurt, receiver Reggie Begelton was tearing up the league along with Kamar Jorden, Marken Michel, and DaVaris Daniels. But they all caught the injury bug, which allowed the likes of Chris Matthews, Eric Rogers, and Markeith Ambles to step into the light. 

Running Back Don Jackson filled the void left by the departed Jerome Messam well. Jackson finished 4th in league rushing yards. 

On defence, Jameer Thurman was 2nd behind Alex Singleton in tackles, while former Ticat Emanuel Davis led the team with 4 interceptions. 

So both teams have seen a significant turnaround in personnel, which makes it difficult to find similarities in the on-field product of this so-called rematch. Calgary Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell spoke about how different both these teams are in his press conference Tuesday. 

“These are two brand new teams here. To disrespect this year by saying we’re using it as revenge for two years ago, or redemption for last year… It’s just disrespectful in my eyes,” he told reporters.

It is clear as well that the mindset of both teams, particularly that of the Stamps QB, have also changed. 

“Don’t make it bigger than it is,” said Bo sincerely. “Don’t build it up to be different than the last two. Go out there and finish your job… Finish what you started and make it all worth it.”

He was a major part of both Grey Cup losses for Calgary and has even been accused as the culprit for failing to seal the deal both final games. 

With how different the Ottawa Redblacks team is and the new mindset of Bo Levi and his Calgary squad, don’t make the mistake in thinking this Grey Cup will be just like the 104th. A lot has changed and that’s what makes every Grey Cup so exciting. 

Let me know what you think!!

Twitter: @Captainbapty

Email: jerred@barnburner.ca

Photo: @CFL