The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will begin their quest for a third consecutive Grey Cup championship Friday night against the visiting Ottawa Redblacks.
The teams did not meet last year in a pandemic-shortened season, but some current Ottawa players still felt the pain of losing to Winnipeg.
They are former Hamilton Tiger-Cats Jaelon Acklin, Jeremiah Masoli, Jackson Bennett, Lorenzo Mauldin IV and Darius Ciraco. They joined the Redblacks as free agents in the offseason.
Hamilton lost the 2021 Grey Cup final 33-25 in overtime to Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers also defeated Hamilton 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup game. The CFL did not play in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After replacing starting quarterback Dane Evans (neck injury) in the 2021 Grey Cup, Masoli was 20-for-25 passing for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
“This isn’t personal for me,” Masoli said. “It’s just Redblacks. Obviously, I want to win, but it’s for the team. This is a great test for us.”
Said Acklin: “We’re not scared. I get another opportunity to capitalize on playing Winnipeg. We have to go in and punch them in the mouth and we’ll see what happens.”
Receiver Darvin Adams, a Blue Bombers stalwart for six seasons, returns to play against them after also signing with the Redblacks. He scored the winning touchdown in the 2021 Grey Cup.
“It felt weird losing him, because he was that constant,” Blue Bombers receiver Drew Wolitarsky said. “We call him ‘Big Uncle’ because that’s how it felt to us.”
Winnipeg also lost star running back Andrew Harris, who signed with the Toronto Argonauts. Brady Oliveira will take his place. Both were born in Winnipeg.
“It’s crazy,” Oliveira said, according to the Winnipeg Sun. “So unique. Two Winnipeggers. Definitely a lot different than last year. I’ve been working for this my entire life. And it’s finally happening.”
Ottawa running backs William Powell (Achilles) and Brendan Gillanders (hip), defensive lineman Nigel Romick (concussion) and offensive lineman Randy Richards (hamstring) have been ruled out of the game.
Winnipeg defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat (ankle) is listed as questionable, as is fullback Mike Miller (ankle) and linebacker Les Maruo (elbow). Blue Bombers wide receiver Kelvin McKnight (hip) is out.
–Field Level Media