Grey Cup: Keys to Victory

Images courtesy of

Plenty has been written this week on what the Ottawa REDBLACKS will have to do to overcome the heavily-favoured Calgary Stampeders in Sunday’s Grey Cup at BMO Field in Toronto.

You can analyze the specific position group matchups, or compare and contrast the two teams’ offensive gameplans, but there are three integral keys for Ottawa on Sunday if the REDBLACKS are to have even a sniff of the Grey Cup.


  1. Jerome Messam 

Calgary’s running back was arguably the best offensive player in the CFL during the regular season, powering his way to 1,198 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Ottawa did a solid job of stopping the Stamps’ power back in both its regular-season meetings with Calgary, limiting Messam to 3.5 yards-per-carry and a single touchdown.

With the Stampeder offensive line being the best in the league, and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell now holding the crown of undisputed best pivot on the nine-team circuit, Ottawa has to make Calgary’s offence one-dimensional. If Dave Dickenson’s team is allowed to run the football, it could be a long night in Toronto for the REDBLACKS defence.

  1. Kienan Lafrance 

It seems bizarre to mention Ottawa running back Kienan Lafrance — a national running back who was largely a third-string option in the backfield during the regular season — in the same breath as Messam. The Manitoba product ran for just 163 yards all season prior to a snow-covered 157-yard performance against Edmonton in the East Final.

As much as Henry Burris is a cherished figure in Ottawa, the days of him leading a team to the Grey Cup on the strength of is arm are over. Against a strong Stampeder D-line led by sack machine Charleston Hughes, it’s going to be imperative for the REDBLACKS  to find their run game early.

  1. Ottawa D-Line vs. Calgary O-Line 

The Stampeder offensive line was the best line in the CFL from virtually wire-to-wire during the regular season, buying ample time for Bo Levi Mitchell to do his thing in the pocket and opening up regular holes for Jerome Messam to burst through.


It’s a strong unit, led by the likes of Derek Dennis and Dan Federkeil, and the REDBLACKS will have to find a way to create meaningful penetration on Sunday.

Zach Evans and Connor Williams will have to be their usual explosive selves on the D-line for Ottawa, which will need to find a third (and fourth) penetration threat to seriously trouble Calgary’s airtight offensive line.

o2qprrbgThe Skinny 

Calgary is the (much) better team on paper. Of that there is no doubt.

You don’t go 15-2-1 in a season, with one of those losses being a garbage-time game against Montreal with starters on the bench, without having the best all-around roster in this league.

Luckily for REDBLACKS players, coaches and fans: You have to play the game.

A quick start in the first quarter, or a key injury on either side of the ball for Calgary, could throw this game’s blueprint (and nine-point spread) out the window. Buckle up for what should be an entertaining Grey Cup, Ottawa.