On Sunday, the Calgary Stampeders will meet the Ottawa Redblacks in the 106th Grey Cup game at Commonwealth Stadium. Here’s a tale of the tape:
On Thursday, Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell was named the CFL’s outstanding player for the second time. Mitchell threw for over 5,000 yards and had a league-high 35 TDs, a remarkable accomplishment considering the injuries to his receiving corps this season.
Ottawa’s Trevor Harris was 29-of-32 passing for 367 yards and a playoff-record six TDs in last weekend’s East Division final. Even more remarkable is Harris completed passes to 10 different receivers. Harris was the CFL’s most accurate passer (70.1 per cent) this season and set career highs in completions (431), attempts (615) and passing yards (5,116).
Markeith Ambles won’t play for Calgary after being injured Friday during practice. Davaris Daniels, the CFL’s top rookie last year who suffered a broken collarbone in September, will come on to the roster as a backup to Bakari Grant. Eric Rogers (knee) battled injury this season but had six catches for 81 yards and three TDs in the Stampeder’s 22-14 West Division final win over Calgary.
Brad Sinopoli, the CFL’s top Canadian, anchors a stellar Ottawa receiving corps. Sinopoli had a league-high 116 catches – the most ever by a Canuck – for 1,376 yards and four TDs while Greg Ellingson (91 catches, 1,086 yards, five TDs) and Diontae Spencer (81 catches, 1,007 yards, seven TDs) also cracked the 1,000-yard mark. And last weekend, Ellingson had eight catches for 144 yards and a TD in the Redblacks’ 46-27 East Division win over Hamilton.
Ottawa finished last in the CFL in rushing (94 yards per game) but William Powell was the league’s second-leading rusher with 1,362 yards and six TDs. The five-foot-nine, 207-pound Powell averaged a solid 5.43 yards per carry and added 39 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Last weekend he ran for 86 yards on 21 carries (4.1-yard average).
Calgary was fifth in overall rushing this season (99.4 yards), with Don Jackson (924 yards, six TDs, 5.8-yard average) leading the way. But Terry Williams (242 yards, one TD, 5.3-yard average) does offer another alternative.
Calgary finished tied with Saskatchewan for the fewest sacks allowed (27). That’s not bad considering the Stampeders attempted over 600 passes this season. Derek Dennis, the CFL’s top lineman in 2016, rejoined the West Division champs this year and was again solid – as were his teammates.
This season, the Redblacks allowed the second-most sacks in the CFL (43). And Ottawa was last overall in rushing. But last weekend against Hamilton, Harris was untouched despite the Ticats’ attempts to bring pressure from all over the field.
Micah Johnson anchors a Calgary front that’s been dominant all season. The Stampeders finished tied for the CFL lead in sacks with 45, of which 39 were recorded by defensive lineman. Johnson himself had 14 to finish one behind Saskatchewan’s Charleston Hughes for the league lead. Ja’Gared Davis had seven sacks.
Ottawa registered 33 sacks this season, seventh-best in the CFL. A.C. Leonard was the Redblacks’ top sack artist with six and an East Division all-star but won’t play. Defensive tackle Michael Klassen was next with four sacks while fellow tackle Michael Wakefield added three sacks.
Calgary’s Alex Singleton had a CFL-high 123 tackles with two forced fumbles and fumble recovery. Jameer Thurman was also solid with 82 tackles and he and Singleton combined for the most tackles of any two teammates.
Colourful Kyries Hebert, an ageless wonder at 38, had 47 tackles with two sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovered for Ottawa. Kevin Brown led the team in tackles (55) while middle linebacker Avery Williams registered 43 tackles.
Ottawa’s Jonathan Rose and Derico Murray were among five players to register a CFL-high five interceptions this season. The Redblacks, as a team, finished second overall in fewest 20-yard completions allowed (36) behind Calgary (32). Halfback Corey Tindale had a team-high 73 tackles to go with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble return.
Brandon Smith registered 56 tackles, a sack, three interceptions and a forced fumble. Emmanuel Davis had a team-high four interceptions but a healthy Ciante Evans definitely upgrades this unit.
Ottawa’s Lewis Ward, the CFL’s top rookie and special-teams player this season, made 51-of-52 field goals (CFL-record 94.7 per cent), including his last 48 straight, an all-time pro football mark. He hit on his first two last weekend against Hamilton before missing. But his consecutive kicks streak will continue next season. Punter Richie Leone (46.4-yard average) was also very solid, as was Spencer as a returner (league-best 2,704 combined yards).
Calgary counters with the impeccable duo of Rene Paredes (41-of-45 field goals, 29-of-31 converts) and punter Rob Maver (45.9-yard average). Williams returned 54 punts for 710 yards (13.1 average) with three TDs. He also had 26 kickoff returns for 550 yards (21.2-yard average).