The 2021 CFL season has not gone the Ottawa Redblacks’ way. On Saturday they lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and fell to 2-9. They are at the bottom of the CFL for the second straight season and with just three games remaining on the schedule the only hope is for the future. Luckily for Redblacks fans though, they are getting a great preview of what their future may look like and there are plenty of bright spots to look forward to moving into the future.
Paul LaPolice and the Redblacks lost 32-3 on Saturday to the Tiger-Cats and there is no denying that it was a bad football game for the Ottawa Redblacks but on a positive note, Devlin “Duck” Hodges received his first game action in the CFL. Hodges’ CFL debut has been long awaited by many fans and in his first game with Ottawa he was 8 of 16 for 49 passing yards, ran for 13 yards and threw one interception. He came in for 23 year old Caleb Evans who started the game and was 12 of 15 for 138 passing yards, had one run for 10 yards and threw two interceptions. The two quarterbacks made a few mistakes each, but continue to progress as they reach the last three games of their first CFL seasons.
Redblacks fans have also been able to get their first looks at running back De’Lance Turner who may just be the running back of the future in Ottawa. Against the Tiger-Cats, after running for over 100 yards in two appearances against the Alouettes Turner had ran for 29 yards on 6 carries. Turner averaged 4.8 yards per carry on Saturday and had a long of 14 yards. With 132 yards rushing on just 23 carries in three starts, Turner will likely close the season out as the Redblacks’ starting running back but will have newly signed Patrick Carr out of Houston in the backfield battle with him next week once he is out of quarantine.
Still on the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Ryan Davis has been playing lights out all season. He had just 2 receptions for 16 yards on Saturday but has 527 yards and two scores on the season. At just 24 years old Davis, as the Redblacks’ leading receiver may just be one of the top receivers in the CFL in the near future and is playing alongside R.J Harris and Kenny Stafford, two veteran receivers that combined for 80 yards in Hamilton. Nate Behar also caught 5 passes of his own for 46 yards against the Tiger-Cats and has had the best year of his CFL career with 324 yards on 31 catches in the eleven games.
On defence, Mike Benevides has been gifted with some playmakers. Despite giving up 320 yards in the air from Jeremiah Masoli on Saturday, Redblacks’ Micah Awe had a good game for himself with 6 tackles and a sack, adding to his totals as one of the league’s top tacklers alongside teammate Avery Williams who went into the game as the second leading tackler in the CFL. Sherrod Baltimore and Abdul Kanneh combined for 10 tackles in the secondary and continue to make plays of their own, but as the Redblacks go into the final 3 games of the CFL season it may be best to take a look at their young talent for the future. Players like Brandin Dandridge, Treshaun Abrahams-Webster, Kene Onyeka, Frankie Griffin, Jerod Fernandez, Shaheed Salmon, Adam Auclair, Tre Hornbuckle, Ranthony Texada, and Reshaan Davis may see a lot more action in the coming weeks as they look to prove themselves as defensive playmakers for Mike Benevides.
Bob Dyce’s special teams unit helped the Ottawa Redblacks once again today, Lewis Ward was 1/1, putting the only points on the scoreboard, Richie Leone punted 8 times for 338 yards and in place of DeVonte Dedmon returner Terry Williams had over 120 yards on returns, including a 49 yard punt return which if he hadn’t run out of bounds after losing balance he could have taken it 82 yards to the house. Williams is a 5-foot-9, 170 pound slot receiver with 4.50 speed and has plenty of potential moving forward, with he and Dedmon in the picture for the Ottawa Redblacks, R-Nation can expect a great return every time one of them touch the ball, especially if Bob Dyce is calling the shots.
The Redblacks will play their next game on Friday against the Calgary Stampeders at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa and with 3 games remaining on the schedule Paul LaPolice and his unit will look to finish the year with a 5-9 record, ending the season with 3 straight wins.