'Gades' season appears cooked

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

REGINA -- Oh Matilda. Stick a fork in those Renegades, would you? They should be almost done.

Sure, it's tough to tell at a glance. Just like with most turkeys.

Despite Sunday's loss, the 5-9 'Gades are still only one point behind the third-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division standings.

And two of their four remaining games are against the Ticats. Even though Hamilton has a match in hand, that would seem to be a battle they have a hope of winning, right?

Except Hamilton isn't their only problem. Ottawa also has to finish with at least as many points as the fourth-place team in the West to prevent the crossover format from kicking in. And both Winnipeg and Saskatchewan are 6-8 and getting noticeably better.

The Renegades are just getting more injured.

"I think that's probably the reaction most people have to a disappointing loss, a disappointing second half (Sunday)," said GM Eric Tillman turning to the mathematics when it was mentioned to him the big picture looks bleaker than bleak.

"The reality is, with three of our last four, if we can beat Saskatchewan (in Ottawa, Oct. 9) and sweep Hamilton (Oct. 15, Oct. 30) the odds are very strong we could still get in with eight wins."

Yeah, and there's still a chance they could pound Montreal when the two teams hook up at the Big O Oct. 23. It's just highly unlikely.

The idea of the Renegades picking up three victories in their last four games seems quite far fetched, considering they have only won two of their last 11.

And those two were both against the last place, 3-11 Calgary Stampeders. That they won the first by one point and the second by two, it's not such a stretch to think that Ottawa could right now be on a losing streak dating back to July 2, when they improved to 3-0 with a 44-15 thumping of Edmonton.

HARD TO IMAGINE

Suddenly, you're to imagine the Renegades winning 3-of-4 and twice in three weeks against the same team?

Hmmm. Don't think so.

At the rate they keep losing players -- DT Roger Dunbrack and CB Jonathan Ordway were the latest to be shelved for the season -- the Renegades will be lucky to make it to the finish line still resembling a football team.

"It has become the theatre of the absurd," Tillman said in describing the injury situation, but not using it as an excuse. "It's difficult to overcome injuries, but it's incredibly challenging when they hit your Canadian nucleus."

Dunbrack, Donnie Ruiz, Shawn Gallant, Pat Woodcock, Mike Abou-Mechrek are homebrews the 'Gades have helplessly watched be plucked from their roster.

Team president/part owner Brad Watters didn't even see the latest debacle, as he was getting away from it all with a weekend trip to Las Vegas. He was receiving constant updates of the Saskatchewan game, however, and he found it to be as agonizing an afternoon as if he had been there in person.

Watters is not giving up on the team, officially. But he realizes how hard it will be to scale the mountain now.

"We're not making it easy on ourselves, are we?" he said yesterday. "We're not ready to write off the season yet, either.

"I can tell you, this wasn't the plan, that's for sure. But if Year 3 hasn't worked out the way we want, we're still going to keep trying to build a strong CFL team.

"It's a discouraging record, but we are going to be here for the long term. We've just got to figure out a way to keep the fans. We're trying to sell entertainment, but in the last 13 weeks there have only been a couple of entertaining games.

"It's all about winning and entertaining, and right now we have neither."

Yep, the Renegades are pretty much done like dinner. But at least there's a Grey Cup game for dessert.


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