Stampeders, Redblacks to meet for Grey Cup
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Tackle Derek Dennis will wear a short-sleeved shirt Sunday when the Calgary Stampeders face the Ottawa Redblacks in the Grey Cup.
Temperature at kickoff is forecast to be a relatively balmy 30 degrees with mostly sun, 5 mph winds and a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
In other words, ideal conditions for the six-foot-three, 345-pound Dennis, the CFL’s top lineman in 2016 when he made his first Grey Cup appearance with Calgary.
“I was here for the 2016 West final, and I can’t remember what the temperature was, but it was cold,” the 6-foot-3, 345-pound Dennis said. “I always wear a short sleeve shirt regardless of the weather but you know, this here is nice.”
Jon Gott clearly agreed. The colorful Ottawa offensive lineman, who chugged a beer in the Redblacks’ regular-season finale, participated in the club’s walkthrough in shorts. Following Saturday’s walkthrough, they participated in a game of bocci on the Commonwealth Stadium turf.
“It’s our tradition,” Dennis said.
This will mark the second Grey Cup meeting between these two teams in three years. In 2016, the Redblacks entered 8-9-1 and won 39-36 in overtime over Calgary (15-2-1) at Toronto.
Dennis thought he might have jinxed the Stampeders when he touched the Grey Cup prior to that game. This week, Dennis made sure Calgary rookies kept their distance from the trophy.
“It was my first professional championship game. and I didn’t know it was frowned up,” Dennis said. “I was standing around it and someone said, ‘Do what you want,’ which was the wrong thing to say. So I’ve tried to be that veteran to lead the way for the young guys. Hopefully we can win it and get our chance to hold it.”
Saturday’s walkthrough was Calgary’s second session at Commonwealth, while Ottawa’s workout Saturday was its first here. Despite Stampeders receiver Markeith Ambles getting hurt Friday — he won’t play Sunday after being stepped on — head coach Dave Dickenson felt it was good to get into the stadium and get a feel for the playing surface.
“I won’t say it’s the greatest chess move in the world but I think it’s something we’ve done differently,” Dickenson said. “It’s just still a football game, you’ve got to go out there and outplay the other team and make more plays.”
A sellout crowd of roughly 55,000 will see the top two teams in each division. Calgary finished atop the West with a league-best 13-5 record while Ottawa was first in the East at 11-7.
Trevor Harris threw a playoff-record six TD passes in Ottawa’s 46-27 East Division final win last weekend against Hamilton. Harris finished 29 of 32 passing for 367 yards in leading the Redblacks to a fourth straight victory this season versus the Tiger-Cats.
Harris was 99 of 129 (76.7 percent) for 1,203 yards with 10 TDs and no interceptions versus Hamilton this season.
Calgary’s defense led the CFL in fewest offensive points allowed (17.8 per game), offensive touchdowns (27), passing TDs (11), was tied for most sacks (45) and second in fewest offensive yards allowed (321.4).
In Calgary’s 22-14 West Division final win, the unit held Winnipeg to 294 offensive yards. Bombers starter Matt Nichols was 15 of 32 passing for 156 yards and was sacked three times.
Ottawa as 13 players from its last championship squad, including cornerback Jonathan Rose. He is to start Sunday after appealing the one-game suspension he received from the CFL for making contact with official Jocelyn Paul in the East Division final. Paul will work as the side judge in his third Grey Cup.