With four weeks left in the season, things are about to get very interesting in the CFL’s East Division. If things break Hamilton’s way, the Ticats will be hosting their first East Division final since 2014.
With the Montreal Alouettes’ loss to the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday, the Hamilton Ticats were secured a home playoff game this season. It’s a major accomplishment after missing the playoffs in 2017, but this team has their sights set on even loftier goals.
With four games to go, the Ticats sit one game behind the Ottawa RedBlacks for first in the division. Two of those four games, of course, are against the RedBlacks, meaning that the fate of this year’s team is directly in their hands.
But one thing at a time: this Friday the Ticats travel up the 401 to Toronto to take on the hated Argos in their final meeting of the 2018 season. The Ticats have already won the season series, taking both of the previous meetings.
The Ticats will come in with a lot of momentum after walloping the B.C. Lions 40-10 in their last outing on September 29. The Ticats are coming off a much-needed bye week, so they should come in well-rested for the final portion of the season.
With the Argos eliminated from playoff contention, it might lead some to believe that they will take it easy for the final four games of their season. However, the heated rivalry between Toronto and Hamilton should have both teams on their toes and make this a must-watch game.
As well, the Argos will be sitting quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson in favour of James Franklin, likely to get a better look at who could backup Ricky Ray during the 2019 season when he returns from injury.
For the Argos, this is as meaningless of a game as they’ll ever have against their arch-rival. But for Hamilton, there’s still plenty to play for.
Securing the East Division final in Hamilton would mean that the team must play in one less game during the playoffs, giving their starters time to rest.
And let’s not forget: the last two Grey Cups have gone to the team that came out of the East. Don’t get your hopes up, but there might be something brewing in Hamilton.
Shawn W. Smith is a writer and reporter from the Hamilton area. His work has appeared on Sportsnet.ca, SB Nation and Vice Sports. He is desperate to see the Tigercats win one more Grey Cup before he dies, but is losing hope.
***** Feature photo courtesy of http://ticats.ca/