MILTON: What do we know for sure about the Ticats?

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but it’s usually better than no knowledge at all.

In that spirit, what can we say we know for sure about the Hamilton Tiger-Cats?

What we do know is that for the fifth time in the six seasons since they vacated old Ivor Wynne, the Tiger-Cats have made the playoffs.

What we do know is that Tim Hortons Field will be the site of a post-season game.

What we don’t know, yet, is whether that home game will be the Eastern semifinal on Nov. 11 against an undetermined — very undetermined — Western opponent, or the Eastern final on Nov. 18 against either that Western interloper or the Ottawa Redblacks, who currently sit atop the CFL East, one game beyond the Ticats.

What we do know is that the Tiger-Cats are where they said they wanted to be heading into the final four games of the regular season, all within their own division, with a chance to finish first in their own hands.

They would have liked to be better than 7-7 and still tied to the .500-ish-ness which has been their ceiling much of this century. And they would have preferred to not lose to Ottawa in late July, virtually necessitating a sweep of the away-and-home games against the Redblacks which follow this Friday’s date with the Argonauts in Toronto.

And we do know that if they take care of the three-win-only Argos then sweep Ottawa, they would definitely finish first and host the Eastern final, ensuring themselves of double-digit wins for the third time in six years but just the fourth in the 2000s.

What we don’t know, yet, is exactly who those Argos will be on Friday night.

“It’s crazy playing teams like that,” Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence says of the Argos. “It’s like the wild kid nobody knows. It’s easy to prepare for the tough guys, because you know they’re tough, but with the wild kids you don’t know what you’re going to get.

“For these kinds of games you just have to make sure you’re prepared and focus on yourself.”

Will the Argos, who are expanding their practice roster, already be trying on their 2019 clothes, starting a four-week audition process?

The Argos need to find out what they really have in James Franklin, who threw for two touchdowns in the final quarter in a weekend loss in B.C. And with an eye toward the future maybe Brandon Burks, who rushed for 92 yards, gets more carries than he normally might.

Plus, the CFL trade deadline — which doesn’t usually generate significant action — is set for 3:59 p.m. Wednesday. The Argos are one of only two ‘sellers’ and some team in the suddenly receiver-depleted league might be tempted to call Toronto about Duron Carter.

That likely wouldn’t be the Tiger-Cats, who continue to be thinned at receiver with Terrence Toliver again under concussion protocol. The Ticats seem more inclined to turn to someone like Marquay McDaniel, who’s already here.

Ticat head coach June Jones figures the Argos will conduct their game plan as if they’re still in the running, not distantly out of it.

“They won it last year, they’re very competitive, they’re pros and Trest (coach Marc Trestman) knows how to work them,” Jones said.

Lawrence believes his team won’t be thinking past Friday, even with Ottawa on the horizon.

“I feel like everybody is wide awake because it’s a rivalry game,” he says. “We want to sweep them and they want to beat us. Nobody in Toronto likes us and we don’t like them. If they beat us they take a bit of the monkey off their back for not making the playoffs.

‘It’s not the pre-season where it’s, ‘play this kid play that kid.'”

Notes: If the Ticats split against Ottawa, to finish first they’d have to beat both Toronto and Montreal while Ottawa must lose to Edmonton and Toronto … DE Adrian Tracy is still a hopeful maybe for Friday. DT Jason Neill will not play … the Cats Claws are sponsoring a fan bus heading to Toronto Friday. Contact 905-664-6117 or 905-920-9781 for tickets.

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (243 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.