Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders return to the Grey Cup for a third consecutive year. Could this finally be the year the CFL's best regular season team captures a league championship?
Will the third time be the charm for the Stampeders? That’s the question that will be asked all week during the festivities of the 106th Grey Cup in Edmonton. For the third straight season the Stampeders finished the regular season with the best regular season record, and punched their ticket to their third championship game – still looking for a win. The Redblacks steam-rolled the Tiger-Cats in the Eastern final on a record-setting effort from their quarterback to return to the big dance.
This will be the fourth time in CFL history that Ottawa and Calgary will meet in the Grey Cup, with Ottawa winning two of the three previous games. This game marks the 18th appearance at the Grey Cup by an Ottawa-based team, they are 10-7 in the previous 17 games. Their last appearance was in 2016 when they beat the Stampeders 39-33. Speaking of the Stampeders, they are making their 17th Grey Cup appearance and are 7-9 in the previous 16 appearances. Their last Grey Cup win was 2014, where they knocked off the Tiger-Cats 20-16.
During the 2018 regular season the Stampeders swept the two game series against the Redblacks. The last meeting was during week 5. When looking at the two starting quarterbacks, this will be Trevor Harris’ first start in a Grey Cup game, and Bo Levi Mitchell’s fourth appearance as a starter, he is 1-2 in the previous three. In addition, this will be Calgary’s third consecutive appearance in the Grey Cup game, which is a franchise record. The Stamps were favourites in 2016 and 2017, but lost to Ottawa and Toronto respectively.
The 2018 Eastern Final is a game quarterback Trevor Harris will never forget. First off, his team won the game and will head to their second Grey Cup in the last three years. Second, he set a CFL record for most passing touchdowns in a playoff game with six against the Tiger-Cats. Harris passed Anthony Calvillo, who set the record in 2009. Harris used 10 different receivers in throwing for 367 yards. Greg Ellingson led all Redblacks receivers with eight catches for 144 yards. RJ Harris caught six passes for 71 yards. Receiving depth favours the Redblacks who have the edge in this department.
Surprisingly, Brad Sinopoli who finished third in CFL receiving with 1376 yards was not that busy this past Sunday, hauling in two catches for 24 yards. Expect more of that in the championship game from the former Stampeder. Breaking news on Tuesday morning from the CFL offices; the league has suspended defensive back Jonathan Rose for this championship game for pushing an official during the Eastern final. Rose finished the regular season tied for league-lead in interceptions with five.
The Stampeders were looking for a receiver to step up and they got it from Eric Rogers. Rogers led the Stampeders with three touchdown catches and 61 yards receiving leading the way to a Western Final win over the Blue Bombers; in what many are saying could be the last home game at McMahon Stadium for Bo Levi Mitchell, who is expected to sign a contract in the NFL. Mitchell completed 17-of-31 passes for 214 yards in the win. When evaluating the two quarterbacks in this game, Mitchell has the very slight edge. Running back Don Jackson had his second straight strong running performance, carrying the ball 14 time for 83 yards. In his last two games he rushed for 174 yards on 25 carries. The last time he surpassed those numbers on back-to-back games was back on June 28 – July 7 (week three and four of the season).
The defence were the stars of the game, limiting Matt Nichols to just 156 yards passing the entire game. In fact, Nichols had just 85 yards passing with three minutes left in the game. Linebacker Alex Singleton, who led the CFL in tackles this season, led all Stampeders with eight tackles against the Bombers. Defensive lineman Ja’Gared Davis had two sacks in the win. The Stampeders have the edge on defence.