Sunday, November 29, 2015

RedBlacks and Eskimos ready to bring curtain down on 2015 CFL season

The hoopla, awards and Grey Cup week commitments now behind them, Sunday brings the focus back to the field at the 103rd edition of the nation's November celebration of the Canadian game.

The Ottawa Redblacks the storyline of the season looking to write that final chapter in a story that was one of the more positive of themes for a CFL season that offered a few concerns for those that have a strong attachment to the three down game.

Issues of attendance for some cities has provided for the customary bit of reflection as to the state of the nine team league, a dip in television ratings as well noted by more than a few, though some terrible play by the teams most mentioned perhaps had something to do with the slippage in both areas.

An epidemic of Quarterback injuries left teams scrambling from week to week to revisit offensive plans to fit replacement pivots, a situation which gave those following at the need to research pretty well every week, sometimes looking up to their screens to proclaim ... who the heck is that?

One of the main stories was the fact that the residents of the nations largest market for the most part were left unaware to their own team this year, owing to any number of reasons that left the Toronto Argonauts to be CFL Bedouins, wandering from city to city seeking a few fans and a little respect.

They are issues that will be examined we imagine as part of the season review, but should  make for a task that can wait for 24 hours.

Today is Grey Cup Sunday, there is but one question to ask on this day, can the RedBlacks make a remarkable run through November last one more game, or will the Edmonton Eskimos a team with their own pretty impressive back story this year return a championship title to Northern Alberta.

You go back a few decades in the CFL history books and the concept of an Ottawa - Edmonton championship game would be an expected match up, the two cities fixtures in championship games that remain vivid for fans who can rattle off the participants on the field from memory, heart breaking moments still to be mourned, levels of excitement and success for others to be relived.

This final Sunday of November, will bring new additions to those reports, tales of exploits yet to be written at Grey Cup 103.

There are of course the sub plots, the return of Ottawa to the championship in only its second season of rebirth and the timeless nature of Henry Burris who has taken this squad and brought them along for a most fascinating ride. A coach in Rick Campbell with famous CFL bloodlines about to face the team that his father made a perennial champion. And the work ethic of the RedBlacks defensive unit, a group that brings back memories for the long starved fans of the days of the Capital Punishment units of the seventies and eighties. A time when a trip to Ottawa meant a win wasn't guaranteed and a toll would be claimed from the turf at Lansdowne Park, the personality of the team and their dedication to task quickly found favour with the fans, who having been burned by owners of the past have been quick to embrace the RedBlacks, a team that has brought a new attitude and work ethic to town.

The Eskimos offer their own stories for today's finale,  a team which has responded so well to head coach Chris Jones, the turnaround from the dark years of but two seasons ago replaced by a team that has resembled the machines of the glory years. The key feature a defensive unit that shows no weaknesses, holding the opposition in check. A team with depth in many positions, the most important at the Quarterback position, with starter Mike Reilly injured and out until late August, it fell to James Franklin to hold the fort, a process which delivered valuable playing time and key game time experience. When a healthy Reilly returned by Labour Day, the energy level for Edmonton built with each week,  his performance against the former Champs last week an indication that he and his offence are on mission, with only sixty minutes left to see that blue print through for the year.

When you reach the final game of the season you want the two best teams to be the one's standing, both Edmonton and Ottawa have earned their way into the Grey Cup the best way, through hard work and a commitment to their work.

No one will argue the point today that the representatives of the East and West don't deserve their place on the field when the anthem is played.

Whichever team claims Lord Grey's Cup at the sound of the final gun, one thing will be certain, both teams will have left all they had to offer on Winnipeg's near frozen field, neither has travelled this far into the 103rd season to take a day off now.

Some background on today's match up can be found below: Preview
CFL Writers Picks
Keys to the Game
Players to Watch


Loggers banned after Esks raise stink
CFL to Redblacks chainsaw team: You're cut
Winterpeg painted RedBlack on eve of Grey Cup
RedBlacks looking to 'set the world on fire' against Eskimos in 103rd Grey Cup
No Respect? Nothing new for Ottawa RedBlacks
Finally, a Grey Cup to get excited about
For some Ottawa football fans, it really has been a lifetime since last Grey Cup win
'Take advantage' of opportunity Redblacks tell themselves
Pressure's on" The story of the Grey Cup football
Ottawa Redblacks fans huddle up the jammed pregame party


Eskimos Mike Reilly could match Getty and Warren Moon Grey Cup success
Will the Grey Cup be much of a game?
Eskimos slipping under the radar amid RedBlacks fanfare
Edmonton Eskimos invade Winnipeg for the 103rd Grey Cup
Spirit of Edmonton Hospitality room 'always the best party at Grey Cup'
Eskimos QB Reilly creates relationships with receivers on and off the field
Eskimos back in Grey Cup after a decade away, want to contend for years to come
Eskimos part of Edmonton's history, not its future


Grey Cup could be life-chafing for Ottawa RedBlacks offensive coordinator Jason Maas
Edmonton Eskimos QB Mike Reilly looks to add second Grey Cup to resume which includes engineering degree
Redblacks' Henry Burris knows no guarantees head into Grey Cup weekend
Redblacks  coach Rick Campbell almost out of father's long shadow
CFL kickers Chris Milo and Sean Whyte's nomadic journeys to the Grey Cup
The Grey Cup is small, quaint and distinctly Canadian
Team commitment, co-operation a recipe for Ottawa RedBlacks success
Henry Burris' cuts from previous CFL teams has driven his MVP season
Redblacks' defensive coach Mark Nelson knows old-school football
Eskimo defence may get the headlines but RedBlacks shouldn't be overlooked

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