The Ottawa Redblacks’ final game of the regular season has no meaning in the standings, but there’s plenty at stake for some of the players lining up Friday night against the Toronto Argonauts.
The game will present a welcome opportunity for some players who spent a long season on the practice roster to showcase their talent.
“It’s pretty much like being red-shirted,” said wide receiver Seth Coates said of the college practice of keeping a player out of competition for a year. “It’s the first time in my life I was sitting and watching the whole time so it was definitely tough because you’re back at square one.”
Coates is one of nine new faces on the offensive side of the ball for the Redblacks, as veteran receivers Brad Sinopoli, Greg Ellingson and Diontae Spencer will be getting the night off.
“It’s a really great opportunity,” said Coates. “I know how fun it’s going to be and how long we’ve prepared for this.”
Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said preparation remained the same this past week.
“We talked all year about what gets you going, what’s the fire that burns inside you,” said Campbell. “These guys want to play good football. I told them at the beginning of the week that this is a make-or-break game because it doesn’t mean anything in the standings, but it means a lot to guys that have worked hard all year and want to play good football when they have the opportunity so we’re going to go out there and do our best.”
Backup quarterback Dominique Davis and third-string pivot Danny Collins will split the game.
Davis has had the opportunity to start a game during his time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and wants to ensure the Redblacks continue to ride the momentum of the last two weeks.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve pretty much been sitting all year and are hungry to play and we just want to go out there and showcase our talents on this last game,” said Davis. “I just want to go out there and be a field general and keep making plays and get the ball to our playmakers hands and let them score some touchdowns.”
While Collins has seen spot duty at times throughout the season the 25-year-old is anxious to prove to himself he’s capable of being productive in this league.
“You’ve got to show what you can do around the league, especially to other teams and definitely to this team, but it’s just to show myself what I can do as far as ability is what’s most important.”
It’s been a disappointing season by all accounts for the defending Grey Cup champion Argonauts (4-13), who will look to end the season on a high note.
Coach Marc Trestman made a number of changes to his roster. Running back Travon Van, acquired two weeks ago, will make his Toronto debut. Will Campbell takes over right tackle as Chris Van Zeyl will sit out the finale, and Jimmy Ralph will start at wide receiver.
“We’re preparing the same way, we’re going in this game the same way,” said wide receiver Armanti Edwards. “Plus, it’s basically a job interview for everybody in here.”