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Masoli and the Tiger-Cats ready for Alouettes in Eastern Semifinal

The Canadian Football League calendar enters a new stage Sunday, a time of the year in which a loss means the end of a team’s season while a victory propels a club one step closer to championship glory.

For the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the hosts of the 108th Grey Cup on Dec. 12, falling short of their goal of winning the Grey Cup this season has not entered the players’ vocabulary this week.

“We’re locked in to this week and this moment,” said Ticats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who will be starting his first playoff game since Hamilton lost to Ottawa in the Eastern Final in 2018.

Now that the playoffs have arrived, the pressure to perform and the intensity of each game becomes amplified.

“It’s just a different feel man,” said Masoli. “It’s another notch up from the regular season. You can just taste it in the air, smell it. It’s just a different atmosphere for everybody involved.”

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CHML’s coverage of Saturday’s game begins with the pregame show at 11 a.m. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

After the game, catch The 5th Quarter on CHML, 900chml.com and on CHML’s Facebook page.

Read more: 10 Tiger-Cats named Eastern all-stars

Montreal’s Patrick Levels contributed to the hype earlier in the week when the outspoken linebacker guaranteed that the Alouettes would beat the Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday.

“We will win in Hamilton,” Levels promised. “Stamp it, put it big as you need to put it… I’m going to stand on what I said.”

Levels also called out a number of players, as well as Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer. “Masoli, come see me. Brandon Banks, come see me. I’m calling people out. Don Jackson, come see me. Coach O, come see me,” quipped Levels.

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The trash talk constituted bulletin board material for Hamilton’s locker room, but the Ticats played down the verbal missives from the Montreal defender.

The usually boisterous Simoni Lawrence wouldn’t bite. “I’ll be honest, it makes me laugh,” replied Lawrence, the East Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2021.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hamilton Tiger-Cats

“Some people might not like what he said but we’re all grown men and we’re going to get the chance to prove whatever on Sunday,” said Lawrence.

Hamilton and Montreal split their two-game season series this year.

The Tiger-Cats won 27-10 in Montreal on Aug. 27 while the Alouettes returned the favour in dramatic fashion, beating Hamilton 23-20 in overtime at Tim Hortons Field.

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For the Alouettes to end the league’s longest active playoff victory drought – Montreal hasn’t won a playoff game since 2014 – they will need quarterback Trevor Harris to play his best game since he joined the team in a trade with Edmonton in October.

Montreal Alouettes. Montreal Alouettes

Harris has started Montreal’s last three games, winning one out of the three, and has averaged 193 passing yards, while throwing seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

Aside from Harris’ production and a good performance from Montreal’s defence and special teams, the Ticats will need to keep CFL rushing champion William Stanback in check.

Read more: Collaros, Stanback named division finalists for CFL’s outstanding player honour

The bruising back won the 2021 rushing title with relative ease, rumbling for 1,176 yards and three touchdowns, but the 27-year-old Stanback was limited to 99 yards on 24 carries in two meetings against Hamilton this year.

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The winner of Sunday’s clash will advance to the Eastern Final against the Toronto Argonauts on Dec. 5.

Click to play video: '1st female CJFL player reflects on season with Saskatoon Hilltops' 1st female CJFL player reflects on season with Saskatoon Hilltops
1st female CJFL player reflects on season with Saskatoon Hilltops – Nov 26, 2021

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