The 2022 CFL season has been extremely entertaining, from what Nathan Rourke has been able to accomplish with the B.C Lions this season in his young CFL career to the outstanding play of Canadian pass catchers like Kurleigh Gittens Jr, Kian Schaffer-Baker and Nate Behar to the tight race in the East division, there are so many storylines across the league that deserve attention, one being the rise of the Ottawa Redblacks as well.
They started the season 0-6, and it looked like the season was a write off. The talk around town was regarding the future of the franchise, what the team would look like next year, and more, but after a road win in Toronto, followed by two more wins, one against Edmonton and another against Montreal, the Redblacks sit at 3-8 in what looks to be a great situation to be in. Receiver Shaq Johnson told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “This is the kind of position that coaches and players want to be in. This is why coaches say its a long season. You have to trust the process, and love the process. It may get boring, but you have to be comfortable with being bored and you can’t get bored of being great everyday. Everyday you have to attack and be great, especially when you’re in a situation like this where you can control what happens, it feels great to be here.”
Being in a situation, at 3-8, with the opportunity and ability to continue to move up in the standings, and really a chance to make the playoffs as well requires positive energy. A player who is able to pump the team with positive energy is Shaq Johnson. Each and every day at TD Place you can catch number 88 with a big smile on his face, not only showing that he wants to have fun and be great but he wants those around him to as well. Talking about the positive energy he said, “it relates to the standpoint of how do you plan to attack your day,” explaining, “somedays, and don’t get me wrong I’m not perfect, some days I don’t have the same energy, sometimes I have low energy, but I have the mindset to stay positive and I feel like its just who I am to have positive energy, even when times are tough. It helps me get through tough times and it even gets me through the positives too. It really helps me to stay positive and have positive energy, and I think the guys around me enjoy it too. Whether its seeing my smile, hear me laugh or listen to the wild stuff I say, I hope to put a smile on their faces if they are having a bad day because its important to have good energy.”
Playing alongside Johnson at receiver are both Darvin Adams and Ryan Davis as well as DeVonte Dedmon. Dedmon comes back to Ottawa after a training camp in the NFL, like Brandin Dandridge. Coming into the new locker room this season, Dedmon saw the new energy. “Its new.” he said, “I see a lot of new faces, guys that were in other places last year, and I’m really happy to be a part of the group. I’m excited to be back.” Dandridge is equally excited. Heading into his first game back at TD Place he says, “this was my firs professional opportunity. I can’t wait to play in front of R-Nation again.”
Receiver Ryan Davis says the energy is flowing heading into Saturday’s game against Toronto. With Dedmon and Dandridge coming back to TD Place and being on a 2 game winning streak he said, “we’re coming together, and we’re getting better. The energy is here, and we are growing as a team. It’s going to be exciting this week.”
Now if Ottawa wins this week, that would be three straight wins for the Redblacks, bringing them to 4-8, and with a Montreal loss that would put the Redblacks at second place in the east, giving them true playoff hopes.
Going on a run like that to finish the season is exactly why people love the game of football, the excitement. Dandridge is ready to go on the run, and is, “excited to be a part of it.”