Ticats hope to get back on track in Moncton

Tiger-Cats quarterback Kevin Glenn will be trying to getting his club back into the win column on...

Tiger-Cats quarterback Kevin Glenn will be trying to getting his club back into the win column on Saturday. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:36 PM ET

TORONTO - If the CFL schedule maker showed up in Moncton this weekend, he’d have a hard time getting out of town without facing the wrath of some Tiger-Cats.

Hamilton’s CFL franchise is in deepest survivor mode these days thanks, at least in part, to the schedule maker.

Three games in 11 days — two of them against the Montreal Alouettes — followed by a home game in Moncton against the Calgary Stampeders.

But in truth, the worst is over for the ’Cats.

They endured the 11-day marathon, although the fallout may yet be felt in Moncton where the CFL heads for a second year in a row with the Ticats and Stamps replacing the Argos/Edmonton Eskimos tilt New Brunswick hosted a year ago.

The fallout comes in the form of injuries, some of which can be at least partly blamed on the short timeframe all those games occurred in.

The Ticats practised Monday at Ivor Wynne, took Tuesday off and moved to a local grass field for Wednesday’s practice to re-acclimate themselves to football on a grass field, a surface they will experience this weekend in Moncton for the first and only time this season as no team in the CFL plays on grass.

On Monday Ticats coach Marcel Bellefeuille, who had the luxury of having nine full days between the loss to the Eskimos and Sunday’s battle with the Stampeders, opted to rest a few of his banged-up regulars including Stevie Baggs, Bo Smith and Peter Dyakowski.

All were back on the field on Wednesday with the exception of veteran centre Marwan Hage.

Bellefeuille has been very satisfied with the job Mark DeWitt has done filling in for Hage, but losing the veteran for the past two games has hurt more than just on the field. Missing has been his leadership and the unique brand of toughness that the likeable Hage brings to every game.

Bellefeuille said he is hopeful the Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton can add to team bonding, but more than that this team needs to get back some of the swagger it had back on Labour Day when it manhandled the Montreal Alouettes.

Offensively, Kevin Glenn picked apart the Montreal secondary while Avon Cobourne ran the ball down the Als’ throats that day.

Defensively, the front four put Anthony Calvillo under immense pressure while the linebackers led by Renauld Williams dished out punishment every time they got the chance. They had the Als reacting to their pace, a place the mighty Alouettes find themselves.

It was easily the high point of the Tiger-Cats’ season.

As for the low point, you can take your pick between the weak start to the season when they lost the first two games or the two game losing skid they take into Moncton.

The Ticats weathered the early storm when they were slow out of the gate.

There’s every indication they will again. Quarterback Kevin Glenn consistently maintains a positive attitude. Any questions about concerns over a recent loss or even a couple in a row are met with declarations of confidence in the talent on the roster and a reminder that it’s only a matter of executing the game plan and the Tiger-Cats will turn things around.

Surrounded by equally positive leaders on the team like Markeith Knowlton and Dave Stala, the veteran Tiger-Cats’ message overrides any of the negative feelings that can creep in when a team is losing.

The only previous meeting this season between Hamilton and Calgary was a tale of two very different halves. In the first, the Tiger-Cats carried the play and took a 20-13 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Stamps, though, dominated the third quarter to take control of the game on their way to a 32-20 win.

The Ticats secondary has struggled of late but was not the major defensive problem in last Friday’s loss to Edmonton. It’s going to have to come up big to keep Henry Burris in check.

Burris threw for 341 yards in the first meeting and is going to have to be kept in better check than that if the Ticats are to leave their losing skid in Moncton.

The Ticats’ front seven have to get back to setting the physical tone for the game as they did on Labour Day against Montreal.

Offensively Glenn and his receivers, who have not been quite clicking lately, need to get back on the same page.

Do all that and they’ll leave Moncton without any more questions to answer about losing streaks.


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