For Joe Paopao, Father’s Day has arrived early. Papa Joe’s boyos from Ottawa tossed aside the disorganized start of a training camp and gave the coach cause for hope for the 2005 CFL season.
The Renegades went into Montreal and took advantage of some uncharacteristic giveaways and penalties to take the first win of the 2005 campaign, albeit a pre-season and thus meaningless game but a win is a win is a win. And for a team that finished 2004 in a flameout of epic proportions, the win on Thursday at Molson Stadium is certainly a sign of better days to come.
Granted Anthony Cavillo the Al’s perennial all star and accomplished starter didn’t get much work, but neither did Rens QB Kerry Joseph for the first half so on this night it would seem that the Renegade auditions outperformed their Montreal counterparts. Joseph however, would enter the game in the third quarter and be the determining factor on this night.
Paopao must be particularly pleased with the effort of his players for it has been he and he alone that have held this Renegade squad together through the training camp and the swirling mess that was the ownership transfer. With new bosses only in place by a couple of weeks, Paopao managed to keep his players focused on the football a task that surely must have tested him often.
For the new (then again are they the old?) owners the Glieberman’s the victory of game number one must surely give them cause for celebration. It may be that their investment may not be a rusty old car after all but just something that needs a bit of attention in the garage, a tune up, a couple of coats of paint, some new tires and brakes and hey this baby is ready for the road.
Ottawa fans that have been burned a few times by the numerous teams that called the capital home have been hesitant to jump on the team’s wagon this time. But perhaps this team will win them over. The work ethic seemed to be in place Thursday, the defence in particular taking the play to the Al’s offence time and time again. Listening to the game on the Team 1200 you got the impression that talk of the Rens being pushed around this year may not be quite on track.
Cut down day comes up on Monday at midnight, 18 players will be issued their walking papers at that time as the team pares down to a 50 man interim roster. Part of the hard fought battles on Thursday were with that deadline in mind, players trying to make that lasting impression on the coaches to perhaps tide them over from the initial cuts. It no doubt will be a gut wrenching time for Paopao as he shakes hands and wishes the eighteen his best, it’s the nature of the game. But with the effort of his team Thursday the job just got a little bit harder, a situation that Papa Joe will no doubt be glad for.
The players in camp battle for positions while the team battles for a little respect from its CFL peers, for one game anyways they earned some respect. One game does not a season make, but it’s a hell of a start….