LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Toronto Argonauts @Ottawa REDBLACKS, Friday, Nov. 2, 7:30p ET (12:30a Nov. 3 CEST)

OTTAWA — Two clubs with their eyes firmly on the future will kick off the 21st and final week of the 2018 CFL regular season in Ottawa on Friday night, as the REDBLACKS host the Toronto Argonauts at TD Place.

Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell let it be known early in the week that, with the REDBLACKS clinched to host the Eastern Final in two weeks’ time, many of his offensive starters will be kept out of the clash against Toronto.

Receivers Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson, along with defensive stalwart Anthony Cioffi, will not dress versus the Argos, while quarterback Trevor Harris and running back William Powell made the team’s depth chart but are not expected to see the field.

Toronto also has its eyes on the future for 2019; quarterback James Franklin will get one final chance to show management why he should be QB-1 next season, while scores of other Argonauts will be hoping to get that final big play on tape for the looming off-season.

While most fans in Ottawa have already turned their focus to the post-season, with a giant circle around Nov. 18’s Eastern Final, Week 21 is opportunity time for players who have been buried on the depth chart and/or practice roster for much of the season.

Quarterback Dominique Davis — largely a short-yardage specialist this season — will make his first regular-season start since signing with the team back in February. The former Winnipeg Blue Bombers is expected to play the first half, with third-string pivot Danny Collins scheduled to take over at halftime.

“This isn’t a pre-season game or a tryout, it’s a regular season game, (and) to get a whole half will be helpful, (I’m) looking forward to seeing them both play,” Campbell told OttawaREDBLACKS.com. “There’s no value in playing bad football, so we want to go out there and win with the guys we have.

“There’s some pretty good football players that deserve an opportunity to show what they’ve got in a game situation.”

For Davis, an East Carolina product now into his third season north of the border, Friday’s game is one giant opportunity to put his best foot forward.

“These are reps I usually don’t get during the season, and I’m excited to make plays and put the ball in my playmakers’ hands,” said Davis, who has accounted for a respectable eight touchdowns (six rushing, two passing) this season. “Move the chains, get some first downs and score a touchdown or two.”

It will be the 29 year-old’s first start since the tail end of the 2015 season, when he completed 16 of 25 pass attempts for Winnipeg in a loss against Toronto.

“I knew I wasn’t quite ready, it was my rookie year,” reflected Davis. “It was a fun experience, to see how it felt, but we didn’t come out with the win and I’m hoping to come up with the win (Friday).

The roster changes are extensive for the REDBLACKS, with 12 changes from the lineup which beat Hamilton last weekend; veteran backup Mossis Madu will start at running back for the second-straight week, receivers Seth Coate and Jacob Scarfone are listed as starters and running back/return man Greg Morris slots in and could see a few touches.

The future is now for the Toronto Argonauts, as Marc Trestman’s beleaguered Boatmen sit tied for last in the CFL with a 4-13 record.

Toronto’s 1-7 record in the second half is the worst in the league, and the team’s autopsy on what went wrong in 2018 — just a single season removed from lifting the Grey Cup in Ottawa — is fast-approaching.

Before band-aids can be ripped and personnel decisions made, however, the Argos have to play out the string on Friday Night Football in the nation’s capital.

On their return to TD Place, emotions will obviously be stoked as members of that Grey Cup team return to the site of their not-that-distant triumph.

“I’d be lying if that thought hadn’t crossed my mind,” offensive lineman Sean McEwen told Argonauts.ca. “But, (we have to) focus on this as an individual game, control what we can control and take it one play at a time.

“It’s definitely different, but as a professional athlete you’re going to go through those highs and lows. I’ve had some veteran players around me, and I can get their understanding and mentorship.”

Quarterback James Franklin is just looking to finish strong after an up-and-down campaign which has seen him anointed the heir apparent to Ricky Ray, then lose that title and the starting job, only to pick it back up and put in a series of moderately good performances down the stretch.

“It’s been a rough season, for myself, for the team, for everybody, (and) it’s kind of bittersweet,” said Franklin of the tumultuous 2018 campaign coming to a close. “It went by pretty fast, (and I’m) looking forward to playing tomorrow (but) excited to get back and see family and get a refresher.”

With a tough season under his belt, the 27 year-old has come to realize the routines and tips that work for others don’t necessarily work for him.

“I made the mistake earlier this season (of) trying to be what others wanted me to be,” said Franklin. “When you’re not yourself, doing your job, it’s going to affect you (and) you’re not going to be able to perform the same.

“When I got the opportunity it was ‘I gotta listen to people who have been there before, I’ve gotta listen to these veterans and coaches’, but it didn’t work for me,” explained the Missouri product. “I’m not a unicorn, but I know I am different in how I do and approach things and I was trying to do things that others told me.”

By The Numbers:

14 — Consecutive games in which the Argonauts have trailed at halftime, tying the record in that category. Toronto is minus-154 (306-152) in first halves this season.

16 — Two-point converts completed by Ottawa this season, a CFL record previously held by Calgary in 2015.

433 — Receiving yards this season for Toronto’s Llevi Noel, ranking him seventh amongst Canadian players; that’s an impressive 426-yard gain — the second-biggest in the CFL — over his minimal output from last season.

.549  — Winning percentage for the REDBLACKS (38-31-2) since 2015, the third-best mark in the league behind Calgary (54-15-2) and Edmonton (44-27).

While Friday’s contest has no bearing on the East Division standings, you can be sure there will be plenty of players hungry to make an impact — if for no other reason than to get that last big play on film.

The REDBLACKS are flying high off a season sweep of Hamilton, with the East Division’s regular-season crown in hand; can their backups get the job done against a Toronto team playing for little else than pride and the dubious honour of not finishing last?

Find out on Friday Night Football.

– With files from Argonauts.ca/OttawaREDBLACKS.com

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2018 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Toronto Argonauts @Ottawa REDBLACKS, Friday, Nov. 2, 7:30p ET (12:30a Nov. 3 CEST)

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