November 3, 2021

Cauz: Why I’m rooting for the REDBLACKS this week

On Saturday afternoon the Ottawa REDBLACKS will face off against the Toronto Argonauts and for the first time ever I am not cheering for my hometown Argonauts. This contest represents the final home game for Ottawa and I’d love to see their loyal fans be treated to a victory.

This is the same group that braved torrential rain storms in a 24-7 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back in Week 8 and have only witnessed one home win all year: A 32-24 defeat of the Edmonton Elks in Week 9. My team is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and is one win away from finishing above .500, something that Toronto hasn’t accomplished since 2015. Maybe it’s all the extra Halloween candy I’ve put back but I’m feeling rather generous and so I’d be thrilled to see this team be able to give back to the fans, to reward them for what has been a trying season.

It should be noted this current Ottawa squad will not challenge for the worst single season in CFL history. That “award” goes to the 2003 Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who managed just one win in a dismal 1-17 season. But at least Tabbies’ fans got to watch Danny McManus throw the ball, Troy Davis go over 1,200 yards rushing and Tim Cheatwood managed to record 10 sacks.

» REDBLACKS ink DeVonte Dedmon to one-year extension
» QB Index: Collaros making his case
» Power Rankings: Everyone loves the middle


I know this can be difficult to do but when you watch Ottawa take the field, try to forget about the team’s record for a moment and consider how remarkable it is they are actually out there at TD Place.

You think the odds are stacked against them winning over Toronto? Consider the odds of making it to professional football. About 7 per cent of high school football players go on to a varsity roster spot in college. That number is even less at the NCAA Division I level where just 2 per cent of all high school players make it to the highest level of collegiate sports. The fact that many of the players on Ottawa’s roster spent some time within an NFL organization during their football journey needs to be highlighted, as just 1.6 per cent of the players lucky enough to make it to the NCAA will ever see the NFL.

I apologize for throwing so many statistics at you but it’s important to remember just how special the football accomplishments are for everyone on the REDBLACKS, no matter what the final standings may look like. I understand that is small consolation in our nation’s capital and the fan base there is rightfully hungry for a winning product. However, as a simple rule it isn’t bad to recognize how truly exceptional all these players are.

Caleb Evans isn’t just a struggling rookie quarterback looking to find his way in the CFL. He was a dominant high school quarterback in the ultra-competitive environment of Dallas, Texas.  He helped his school, the Bishop Dunn Falcons to undefeated seasons, district championships and state championship games. Evans went on to a productive college career at Louisiana-Monroe, starting 39 games and putting up 9,523 yards and 58 touchdowns.

Against the Argonauts’ defence Evans may hand the ball off to another rookie, running back De’Lance Turner. Before doing this piece Turner was just another cog in the Ottawa offence having played in just four games. This guy was a star in college. As a senior with Alcorn State, Turner set a school record with 1,357 rushing yards, earning a third-team All-American selection. The first time Ryan Davis catches an Evans pass keep in mind that not only is he the team’s leading receiver but he also is Auburn’s all-time leader in receptions (178).

DeVonte Dedmon is an emerging star in the CFL, with two return touchdowns this season. He’ll be back with the REDBLACKS for the 2022 season, signing an extension this week (Walter Tychnowicz/

When it’s time for the kicking game sit back and bask in the glory of Lewis Ward, who holds the professional football record for most consecutive field goals made at 69. Richie Leone, a three-time CFL All-Star, was a Ray Guy Award semi-finalist three years in a row during his days with the Houston Cougars. For those that don’t know, that award goes to the top punter in all of college football.

On the defensive side of the ball, I love the story of defensive back Randall Evans. He started his collegiate career as a walk-on at Kansas State and ended up starting 31 games. His team went 38-14 during his four years there and he earned a First-Team All-Big 12 award voted by the coaches. In his senior year, Micah Awe led Texas Tech in tackles. Finally, what should come as a shock to nobody, DeVonte Dedmon finished his days at William & Mary sixth all-time in all-purpose yards.  I could go on but I think you get the point.

I acknowledge this is a hard ask for sports fans where results are king and losing seasons can be difficult to stomach. It is difficult to find much to celebrate about the 2021 season for Ottawa but when you do a little bit of digging, it’s easy to admire the hard work, sacrifice and the litany of personal victories each of these players has accomplished to get the rarefied air of being a professional football player.

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