North x South: Grey Cup Playoff Preview - East Semifinal

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

(This is a new segment called North x South that will focus exclusively on the CFL.)

If you’re like me and you’re tired of watching your favorite NFL team lose and seeing others win, there IS an alternative to your football watching on Sundays over the next three weeks: it’s the Grey Cup Playoffs!

Last week, an unpredictable 2018 regular season in the CFL came to an end. The Ottawa RedBlacks returned to the top of the East while in the West, the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders battled for the top spot throughout the regular season with the Stampeders taking the division by winning the final regular season game.

With the divisions decided, let’s look at the playoff matchups for the divisional semifinals, starting with BC traveling to Tim Horton’s Field to take on Hamilton at 1pm Sunday. The game will be aired stateside on ESPNews. 

BC at Hamilton: The Tiger-Cats finished 8-10 in the regular season while the Lions finished 9-9 and earned a playoff spot by virtue of the divisional crossover (because Montreal and Toronto were fairly execrable in 2018), finishing better than a lot of pundits expected.

Jeremiah Masoli looks to lead Hamilton to the next round of the Grey Cup playoffs. (Photo Credit: Canadian Press)

Hamilton limps into the playoffs after losing three consecutive games to finish the regular season with a lineup decimated by injury. QB Jeremiah Masoli will need to continue the form that won him the full-time job last season and carried him into a year that saw him have career-best numbers. With injuries depleting their receiving corps, Masoli’s primary target is WR Luke Tasker, who tied for the team lead with 11 receiving touchdowns. RB Alex Green will need to have a big game if Hamilton is to advance. On defense, Hamilton will rely on linebackers Larry Dean and Simoni Lawrence to prevent BC RBs Jeremiah Johnson and Tyrell Sutton from each having big games. DB Delvin Breaux will be matched up against BC WR DeVier Posey, who has put up quality numbers since returning from an NFL tryout.

Travis Lulay and Tyrell Sutton look to continue their crossover journey with a win on Sunday. (Photo credit: Jeff McIntosh, Canadian Press)
BC, meanwhile, won 6 of their final 9 games. Even though they suffered injuries to key positions throughout the season, the Lions were able to stay glued. The Lions have had to rely on all three of their quarterbacks throughout the course of the season and has put in an inspired effort for what will be head coach Wally Buono’s swan song. Offensively, the Lions will need a great game out of QB Travis Lulay and from Johnson and Sutton, who have been successful as a running back platoon since Sutton’s arrival in late September. If the offense doesn’t put up touchdowns, they can rely on kicker Ty Long’s leg in field goal and punting situations. Defensively, the line, particularly Shawn Lemon and Odell Willis, will need to force mistakes out of Masoli and if they do, both Anthony Orange and Winston Rose (who each had five interceptions this season) could capitalize on the work of a hungry defensive line.

Outlook: The Lions caught a break in getting to play a Tiger-Cats team worn down by injury. Though the Tiger-Cats will have intangible advantage of the home crowd behind them (even with Ric Flair scheduled to be there), they’ll have a devil of a time against an inspired Lions team. BC 24, Hamilton 20.

(West Semifinal preview to come tomorrow.)

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