Ticats will play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their third attempt for a Grey Cup this century
By Harley Kock
It all started in December 2018 when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hired Rookie Head Coach Orlondo Steinauer. Steinauer came with an excellent resume, a 13 year CFL career as a Safety and 10 years in various coaching positions. Those included a Grey Cup victory as the defensive backs coach in 2012 with the Toronto Argonauts and two Grey Cup losses as the defensive coordinator for the Tiger-Cats in 2013 and 2014.
So it wasn’t a surprise when Hamilton had the CFLs top defence, giving up just 19.1 points per game. 2 points less than the next closest team the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who got eliminated in the Western Final.
After returning from a 2 game suspension he led the team with 98 tackles, was third in interceptions with 3, and had 4 sacks in 15 games. Lawrence set a CFL record this season with 17 tackles in a 33-13 week 16 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the team they will face in the Grey Cup.
Steinauer told reporters following Lawrence’s record, “He’s a passionate player. You either love him or you hate him, and that’s okay. He plays football aggressive. He wants to be great,”
The surprising thing in Hamilton were their offensive numbers, at 30.6 points per game.
Dane Evans, Hamilton’s backup Quarterback last year had a breakout season throwing for 3754 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 games after taking the starting job in week 7.
It wasn’t just him who stood out, Wide Receiver Brandon Banks had his third straight season with 1000 plus receiving yards. This year he had multiple career highs; 112 receptions, 1550 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 16 games.
The weirdest part of Hamilton’s offence was their run game. They were 4th in the league with 100.4 yards per game.
Their top rusher for the season was Cameron Marshall who rushed for 307 in 4 games before getting injured. Then there were 4 other players with 200 plus yards, including wide receiver Bralon Addison who finished with 218 well also catching 95 passes for 1236 yards.
Before the Eastern Final both Lawrence and Banks wrote an open letter to their fans. Stating, “We both arrived here in Hamilton in 2013 unsure of what to expect. Seven seasons later, it’s our second home. We’ve grown up in this city. Whether we’re getting groceries, out for dinner or anywhere around Hamilton, you have welcomed and embraced us like family. From the day we set foot in The Hammer, we felt like we were a part of something.”
They backed up that love with a dominating 36-16 victory against the Edmonton Eskimos. Hamilton booked their tickets to Calgary, and into their 3rd Grey Cup in the past seven years.
It was a game that started about as well as it could with back-to-back takeaways by their defence and a 13-0 lead after the first quarter.
Edmonton got their first score, but Hamilton quickly responded with a huge grab by Banks.
That extended their lead to 20-7. The Eskimos fought back to make it 23-13 at the half but the second was all Ticats.
Evans had an impressive outing in his first playoff start, throwing for 386 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Addison and Banks both finished with 100 plus yards receiving. David Watford who was signed mid-season had two goal-line quarterback runs for touchdowns.
A shut down defensive performance held Edmonton to just 16 points, after they averaged 22.6 during the season.
Following their 36-16 win Steinauer said, “When you’re accountable to the person next to you, I think that’s important because when you go in there you don’t want to let your teammates down and that’s when you start to have the makings of the potential of something special.”
One more victory to make it not only special, but historic as the last time Hamilton took home the Grey Cup was in 1999.
Tweet, The Grey Cup is this weekend so I take a look at the Eastern Champion Hamilton Tiger-Cats and their outstanding season so far. #GreyCup #Tiger-Cats #Hamilton #Ticats #TheHammer #CFL