OTTAWA — Ottawa REDBLACKS quarterback Henry Burris says he isn’t holding any grudges, but you can bet this Saturday’s game has been circled on his calendar for a long time.
The REDBLACKS will face off against Burris’ former team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, for the first time this season on Saturday.
The veteran quarterback spent the last two seasons with the Tiger-Cats and last year led them to the Grey Cup, where they eventually lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. This past winter Burris was released as the team chose to go in a younger direction.
The 39-year-old Burris is one of the oldest players in the CFL, but remains one of the most competitive.
“I’ve been part of this a number of times that I don’t put too much onus on the fact of me going against whomever and trying to prove something as I feel I’ve proven enough,” said Burris. “But the bottom line is I want to help our team take the next step.
“Would it be a big victory, yeah for the future, because right now that would put us two games up on Hamilton.”
Burris has gone through this kind of situation previously in his career, and he said he can approach this game with more maturity. He’s trying to pass along that insight to other teammates.
“I told guys like (John) Delahunt and Chevon (Walker) and Dobson (Collins) and guys that were part of Hamilton last year, that the biggest way that you can make your message heard as far as the decision that they made is going out and just doing what you can do over the course of the season and all that will take care of itself,” said Burris.
While Burris is saying all the right things there’s no denying his desire to win, and with the Tiger-Cats being without starting quarterback Zach Collaros, who was signed to replace Burris, this could be the perfect situation to offer a little payback.
Hamilton will be relying on young quarterbacks this weekend, ones that Burris is familiar with.
“I always want to see those guys have success, just not in this game,” said Burris. “They’re good friends of mine and guys that we still keep in touch with and we still talk almost every week, but I believe if I just go out and do my job that will all speak for itself.”
Despite the Tiger-Cats early season challenges, Burris knows the REDBLACKS will have their hands full. Not only does Ottawa need to play better than they did last weekend when they defeated the Toronto Argonauts 18-17, they will need to contend with a cranky football team.
“We know they’ll be playing desperate football,” said Burris. “Right now the heat is on and I know how those guys operate down there. To go from being in the Grey Cup to 0-3 at this point isn’t something they could foresee as part of their future so I know Kent (Austin) has turned on the heat on those guys.
“For us to be able to go up on a team like Hamilton right now and keep them as far as in the hole that would be a huge victory for us moving forward coming back home to play Saskatchewan.”
Unlike Burris, Walker admits to wanting a little retribution this weekend.
“Going back is definitely going to give me a little extra motivation,” Walker said. “It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be fun going back. This is definitely one of those games where I’ll do whatever it takes to play 120 per cent, which I do every game, but this game gives me a little more incentive.”
REDBLACKS head coach Rick Campbell says one of the biggest factors for his team this weekend will be to capitalize on its opportunities, something they’ve struggled with in this early season.
“We just need to make sure we finish.”
Campbell dismisses the notion that the Tiger-Cats are struggling and says they’ve done a lot of good things and can’t be taken lightly.
“They run around well and do a lot of things well and are very athletic on both sides of the ball,” said Campbell. “They played very well against Edmonton and Calgary. They didn’t get the job done, but they did a lot of things well and they do a lot of things right.”
The Tiger-Cats new stadium has been delayed and as such Saturday’s game will be played at McMaster University.