'Gades need playoff miracle

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

Even Pythagoras would have a tough time figuring out a formula of getting the Ottawa Renegades into the playoffs.

What's even tougher for a mind to ponder is how a professional football team residing in this city can function with only one person in its front office selling tickets to fill a stadium with 28,000 seats.

Maybe you've just got to hope for a walk-up on game night and cross your fingers that the part-timers working the ticket windows don't screw up too badly.

As for the on-field stuff, many have tried to find the right mix to get the Renegades into the post-season -- Eric Tillman, Joe Paopao, Forrest Gregg. Hey, even Lonie Glieberman has given it the old college try -- and we know how fond he is of his frat days.

But it's going to take a lot more than math to get the Renegades a first playoff spot in its four-year history. "We've put ourselves in a position where we have to win out," says quarterback Kerry Joseph. "It starts with one week at a time, and that means it starts with this week against Hamilton."

That's just the start.

They'll not only need a win Friday at home over the Ticats, but also help from other teams and maybe a miracle to get Ottawa its first pro football playoff berth since 1994.

But the way things have been going for the Renegades lately -- losing their last six after a promising 5-3 start and not getting any breaks -- you've go to wonder if there's hope.

A sign that the planets are aligning came last weekend when everything went wrong for the Renegades.

They did themselves no favours by losing to the Argos in Toronto.

Then again, neither did the referees or the giant Rogers Centre replay screen.

If that game had been played at Frank Clair, with its postage stamp-sized "Minitron," the officials wouldn't have overturned that fumble return for a TD by Greg Moss like they did in Toronto, and the Renegades would have been in better shape.

Tom Wright and George Black can say all they want about how much the officiating will improve, but it's going to take a lot more than posting an "Ask the Ref" feature on the league's website to make fans believe that'll ever happen.

Meanwhile, the Alouettes beat the Stampeders handily, and Saskatchewan blocked a potential game-changing field goal for the second consecutive week to secure a huge win over B.C.

If the Renegades lose to 3-10 Hamilton, who showed they won't lie down after beating Edmonton last weekend, they can kiss any chance of catching Montreal and finishing second in the East bye-bye.

WEST IS BEST

And with the league's crossover rule in effect, every club in the West except Winnipeg has a superior record than Ottawa's.

The best chance the Renegades have is catching the 7-7 Stampeders, but that won't be easy, considering the Stamps need to split their remaining four games and, if that's accomplished, could only lose the playoff spot if Ottawa wins the rest of their games.

"We've got down to the wire," says linebacker Jason Kralt. "We need to win, not only to get into the playoffs, but also for our confidence."

So what the Renegades need isn't a good mathematician.

Looks like they need to run the table, and get a little help by praying and crossing their fingers.

"It's always good to have prayer and faith," says Joseph.

Especially in this situation.

Four straight wins from a team that's never won more than three in a row?

Hail Mary, full of grace ...


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