OTTAWA — With the playoffs out of reach for a fourth straight year, the Ottawa Redblacks will have to settle for attempting to end the season on a high note with a win over the league-leading Toronto Argonauts.
The Argos (15-2) have a chance to set a franchise record for most wins if they beat the Redblacks (4-13) on Saturday at TD Place Stadium. The Redblacks, meanwhile, are looking to reach five wins in a season for the first time since 2018.
Even without a victory Saturday night the Argos will have put up just as many victories in one season than the Redblacks have through the past four.
“At this time, we can’t change what’s happened in the past, but we certainly can affect the future,” said head coach Bob Dyce. “We can use this as a springboard. Obviously, our main focus is making sure we win this game (Saturday) night and bring everything that we have. The last thing you want to go into an offseason is thinking about what could have been.”
While there haven’t been many positives, running back Devonte Williams is just 48 yards from becoming the CFL’s fifth 1,000-yard rusher this season.
Williams, who will be looking for a new contract for next season, has 169 carries for 952 yards despite missing three games.
“It’s definitely a huge milestone, but I don’t think it’s a huge milestone just for me,” said Williams. “It’s also the guys around me as well because everybody plays a huge factor into the success of everything…I think it will mean a lot to everybody.”
The 26-year-old Williams was named as the Redblacks nominee for the CFL's most outstanding player award Wednesday.
The last Redblack to rush for 1,000 yards was William Powell in 2018.
While the Redblacks aren’t likely to win too many awards this season quarterback Dustin Crum was selected as the team's most outstanding rookie.
Crum came into the season as the fourth string quarterback and finishes the season as the starter. Whether or not he wins the award, the experience gained this season bodes well for his future.
Crum goes into the final game passing 244-for-350 for 2,836 yards. He is Ottawa’s second-leading rusher with 668 yards and nine tpuchdowns.
“It means a lot to me that I was trusted to be put in the position that I am now,” said Crum. “It means a lot to me to earn the trust and respect of your teammates and your coaches. At the same time it almost feels like I’ve played about three seasons in one because I’ve been in so many different roles and had to wear many different hats throughout the year.”
Saturday’s game will be fan appreciation night. Crum understands the frustration most are feeling but has huge respect for those that continue to hang in there.
“At every point this season obviously, there was frustrations and thing they felt and we’re right there with them,” Crum said. “There’s no one on this team that doesn’t care just as much as they do and isn’t going to do everything we can to get this thing right and get it headed in the right direction.”
The Argonauts ruled out 11 players for the game, including running backs Andrew Harris and AJ Ouellette, receivers Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and DaVaris Daniels. Quarterback Chad Kelly practiced all week and will be available.
Following Saturday’s game the Argonauts will have a week off before the East Division final. They will be closely watching next week’s semifinal between Montreal and Hamilton.
ARGONAUTS (15-2) AT REDBLACKS (4-13)
Friday, TD Place Stadium
LOOKING TO MAKE HISTORY: In Canadian Football history, no team has ever completed their season with a perfect division record of at least nine wins. The Argos can go 10-0 with a win over Ottawa.
STRONG FINISH: The Argos are 12-1 when heading into the fourth quarter with the lead.
NOT GETTING THROUGH: Toronto leads the CFL giving up just 17 sacks. The club record is 18 sacks allowed set in 1996.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2023.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press