The latest edition of the Battle of Ontario will see one team put its perfect home record on the line.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will look to end their season with an undefeated record at home this season on Saturday, as they play the Toronto Argonauts at Tim Hortons Field. The Ticats are currently 8-0 at home. The last East Division team to end their season with a perfect home record and have 30 points in the standings was the 2009 Montreal Alouettes.
But, Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer isn’t using that, nor his in-province rivalry, as motivation for his team’s regular season finale.
“I think those are notable things,” Steinauer said. “But if you’re asking is that gonna get us any more fired up, are we gonna prepare any harder, I would hope the answer would be no.”
“I think what really matters is it’s the next game,” he added. “We’re always challenging ourselves and trying to play to our standards. And we know what those are defined as. We show them repeatedly and it’s about playing up to them.”
The Argonauts, meanwhile, will look to show off the future as they continue to build their 2020 roster under the watchful eye of new general manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons. Quarterbacks Dakota Prukop and Canadian Michael O’Connor will see time Saturday against the Ticats.
Prukop will make his first start after throwing a pair of touchdown passes in last week’s win over the Ottawa REDBLACKS.
“You want to see how strong your roster can be next year,’’ said Argos head coach Corey Chamblin. “That’s the biggest thing: How strong can your roster be next year. One injury shouldn’t take you out of a game, two injuries definitely shouldn’t put you in a loss for the season or for a game.
“The biggest thing right now is putting enough guys out on the field and give them good evaluations in order for us to have a stronger core next year. If we don’t have a starter playing, we have one behind him and there’s not a huge drop-off.”
Hamilton will rest two of theirs, and the league’s, top performers Saturday. Quarterback Dane Evans and Brandon Banks were both recognized as the Canadian Football League’s top performers for the month of October earlier this week. Evans has 21 touchdown passes and 3,754 passing yards this season, coming in relief of injured quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Banks has 1,550 receiving yards, 112 receptions and 13 touchdowns this season.
Hayden Moore will take Evans’ place while Jalin Marshall will start at slotback.
Receiver Bralon Addison, running back Tyrell Sutton, defensive back Delvin Breaux, defensive end Ja’Gared Davis, and linebacker Nick Shortill will also sit out Saturday. But receiver Luke Tasker will play. He’ll be suiting up for his second appearance following an eight-game absence due to injury.
“I want to play right now,” the New York native said. “It’s been such a hard season for me physically that the more the better for me.
A.J Ouellette will start at running back for Toronto, with James Wilder Jr. backing him up. Finally, Canadian Zach Medeiros will be the kicker in place of the injured Tyler Crapigna.
BY THE NUMBERS
7 — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have finished first place in their division on seven occasions, their most recent time is their first time since 2014.
15 — Ticats head coach Orlondo Steinauer can equal the record for most wins by a first-year head coach (15) if he wins Saturday. The record is held by Calgary’s Dave Dickenson, who set that record in 2014.
9 — Argonauts and Canadian quarterback Michael O’Connor threw nine pass attempts last week in a victory over the Ottawa REDBLACKS. The pass attempts were the most by a Canadian Argo quarterback in 50 years.
26 — Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson leads the league with 26 touchdown passes, though he’s not expected to play on Saturday.
AFI, Yare Media and the CFL
American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2019 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.