North x South: East Final Preview

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

The East Final is set between the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The RedBlacks hope to advance to their third Grey Cup appearance in four years and the Tiger-Cats hope to make their first Grey Cup appearance since 2014.

Ottawa punched their ticket to the East Final by virtue of finishing first in the East Division with an 11-7 record, earning a bye along the way. Hamilton made their way to the East Final with a beatdown of West crossover opponent BC, 48-8. The Tiger-Cats were strengthened by a boisterous home crowd as well as a pre-game speech by the legendary wrestler, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

The game will be played at TD Place in Ottawa and will be broadcast stateside at 1pm on ESPNews and ESPN+.

Trev Harris has played masterfully against Hamilton. Can he pull off another win against the Tiger-Cats this Sunday? (Photo Credit: Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Ottawa brings a balanced offense full of playmakers and some of the best offensive personnel in the league. Like the rest of the team, QB Trev Harris had his share of trials in the early part of the season and even had to endure being benched in a game. But when it came to the final eight games of the regular season, he was arguably the best in the league, leading the RedBlacks to a 5-3 record in the final stretch. Harris finished with over 5,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Harris has plenty of talent to depend on. RB William Powell rushed for 1,362 yards and three receivers with over 1,000 receiving: Brad Sinopoli, Greg Ellingson, and Diontae Spencer. They’ll have to contend against a Tiger-Cats team that forced the BC Lions to make mistake after mistake in the East Semifinal. Hamilton forced two turnovers (including a pick six to put the dagger in the Lions in the third quarter) and sacked BC’s quarterbacks four times. Could they do the same against Harris and the RedBlacks offense? With the inspired effort that Simoni Lawrence, Larry Dean, and the rest of the defense had last week, they could give the RedBlacks’ offensive unit some fits.

Bralon Addison had a brilliant performance against BC. He'll need a similar performance against Ottawa if Hamilton wants to advance to the Grey Cup. (Photo Credit: Peter Power/Canadian Press)

For the Tiger-Cats to advance last week, they needed to play a complete game on both sides of the ball. They realistically needed one half to do it: QB Jeremiah Masoli threw three touchdown passes en route to a 28-0 lead. Masoli showed why he is the East Division’s Most Outstanding Player candidate, picking apart the BC Lions defense. The receiver who had the biggest day for Hamilton wasn’t who fans thought would have one: Bralon Addison. Addison has only been with the team since September, but was inserted into the lineup quickly after Brandon Banks suffered a broken collarbone. Addison had 124 yards on five receptions. Though he didn’t have a touchdown, his receptions helped stretch the field and made life easier for Masoli. This week, they face a RedBlacks defense that has stymied them throughout the season at the right time. LB Chris Ackie, acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline, has helped solidify a RedBlacks defense that has had their ups and downs throughout the season. DBs Derico Murray and Jonathan Rose each had five interceptions to lead the team.

Outlook: The RedBlacks hold two psychological advantages in this game: they’re at home and they swept the season series against the Tiger-Cats. However, the Tiger-Cats will be riding a wave of momentum from last week’s big win. That’s what makes this game so tough to call. But it’s very tough for one team to beat another four times in one season. Therefore, I’ll have to go with the Tiger-Cats. Hamilton 35, Ottawa 30.

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