OTTAWA – The Ottawa Redblacks would love nothing more than to carry the momentum from their recent victory over the Montreal Alouettes into a rematch.
With new interim head coach Bob Dyce at the helm, the Redblacks (4-11) posted a 24-18 win over the East Division’s second place Alouettes (7-8) on Monday.
Now the two teams will square off for the final time this season Friday night at TD Place.
While slim, Ottawa’s playoff hopes are still alive. But the club has a challenge ahead after losing a number of key players Monday.
Those sidelined in the win include returner/receiver Devonte Dedmon (quadricep), receiver Jaelon Acklin (head/shoulder), running back William Powell (shoulder), linebacker Patrick Levels (ankle), defensive lineman Praise Martin-Oguike (ankle) and offensive lineman Dino Boyd (shoulder). Ottawa is already without receiver Nate Behar and defensive back Justin Howell.
“If you get banged up at all in that last game it’s going to be really tough to come back and be ready,” said Ottawa quarterback Nick Arbuckle.
With injury comes opportunity.
First-year receiver Siaosi Mariner will make his CFL debut Friday night.
“I’m very excited to see Siaosi Mariner in (Acklin’s) spot,” said Dyce. “He’s done great work throughout the year ever since he’s been here. You can see his teammates really rave about him, but the challenging part is not a lot of reps with the short period between games.”
Arbuckle is already familiar with Mariner as the two trained together during the off-season and ran routes for nearly three months.
“It feels like all the months of our off-season kind of built up to this one opportunity to play together,” said Arbuckle. “He’s an all-around playmaker.”
Ryan Davis will come in for Dedmon, and Dyce feels more than confident integrating both into the game plan.
It’s not the ideal scenario for a team desperate to keep its post-season chances alive, but Dyce said there’s no real option but to deal with the hand they’ve been dealt.
“We’re focused on what we have to do,” he said. “The coaches have made a great game plan and worked together well with the players and so we’re focused on what we do. For us to have success we focus on ourselves.”
It’s been a challenging season for the Redblacks, but the coaching change seems to have provided new energy to the team.
“You can feel it,” said Arbuckle. “Kind of in those critical moments, you know, at halftime and in the second half, just a feeling of belief in each other.”
Ottawa trailed 12-7 at the half earlier this week, but Arbuckle said there was no panic despite the fact they’d faced a similar fate their last two games against Toronto and come out on the losing end.
“There was just a feeling that we were going to get the job done,” the QB said. “We were going to do everything we needed to do to win the game at the end.”
Ottawa will need a similar mindset this week to pull off another victory.
The Redblacks will also look to put an end to a long losing streak at home. Ottawa has lost 21 of its last 22 games at TD Place and, with just two home games remaining, including Friday’s matchup, time is running short to give fans something to cheer about.
Montreal has lost its last two games against the Redblacks and will look to gain momentum as it heads into the final stretch of the season.
The Alouettes are dealing with their injuries as the team announced receiver Reggie White Jr. (knee) and centre Sean Jamieson (knee) are done for the season.