It is not quite for all the marbles, but Sunday’s Eastern Final between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts will determine which team will play in the Grey Cup final.
CHML’s coverage of Sunday’s game begins with the pregame show at 10:30 a.m. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m.
The hype surrounding Sunday’s Eastern Final was kicked up several notches after news broke that Argos starting QB McLeod Bethel Thompson had violated the league’s COVID-19 protocol by attending the Toronto Raptors game at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday night.
Thompson was showcased on the arena’s video board during the contest and he was later interviewed on the television broadcast.
But unlike the automatic four-game quarantine that was levelled against other players who broke the CFL’s COVID rules this season, including Hamilton’s J’Gared Davis, Thompson has been handed a shorter quarantine period.
In a statement released on Friday, the league said Thompson, as well as teammates Dexter McCoil, Charleston Hughes, Llevi Noel and Jeff Richards, “must quarantine at home for two days and two nights” and must not attend practice or meetings in-person for two days.
The Argos, who earned a bye in the first round of the CFL playoffs after finishing in top spot in the East Division, own a 3-1 record against the Ticats in 2021.
Hamilton dumped their arch rivals in their first meeting of the Canadian Football League campaign on Labour Day, blasting Toronto 32-19 in a game in which Ticats QB Dane Evans completed 21 of 29 pass attempts for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
Evans was injured in the rematch four days later, a gut wrenching 17-16 loss at BMO Field in Toronto, and hasn’t started a game since.
With Jeremiah Masoli now firmly entrenched as the Tiger-Cats’ starting pivot, Evans will watch Sunday’s contest from the sideline.
Toronto topped the Ticats in their two other meetings this year, winning a 24-23 nail-biter on Thanksgiving Monday and following up with a decisive 32-12 win in the penultimate game of the regular season.
“Each one was different,” said Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer as he reflected on the four-game season series in an interview on CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.
“Obviously the ones you enjoy are the ones you win, but even in the ones we won we didn’t play flawless,” added Steinauer, who is trying to become the first Hamilton head coach to lead the team to back-to-back Grey Cup appearances since Kent Austin did so in 2013 and 2014.
Hamilton lost both of those championship games, and will try to avoid a repeat of their 2019 Grey Cup loss should they advance to the CFL final on Dec. 12 at Tim Hortons Field.
Steinauer maintains his troops are not looking ahead to the possibility of playing in the Grey Cup at home. “It wouldn’t matter where the Grey Cup is played. There is no Grey Cup if you don’t handle your business this week.”
The winner of Sunday’s game will square off against the defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers or Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 108th Grey Cup.