Catching up with the Commissioner

At the REDBLACKS home opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I was granted the opportunity to interview CFL Commissioner, Randy Ambrosie. Ambrosie, who was an offensive lineman when he played was the second overall pick in the 1985 CFL draft. During his time in the CFL, he was lucky enough to play with Damon Allen in Edmonton and was granted a grey cup ring in 1993, when Edmonton beat Winnipeg 33-23. In 2017, Randy was given the job as the CFL commissioner.

Q and A

During the off-season, you and the CFL had started the installation of the “CFL 2.0”, are you surprised with how well the global players have done this early in their CFL careers?

“We were all curious of how well they’d perform, having no way to benchmark the league in their home countries . I am pleased with all the feedback I’ve received from CFL coaches and general managers about how well the guys have competed and I am more than excited to see what they have in store for the future of our league.”

What do you expect out of these guys once the season gets in full swing?

It does take time for them to adjust to the league, when I played it was the same, fast pace football, the more they practice, the better they will get. I expect them to grow as players in this league, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of the guys become a star before the end of this season.

Do you think that the rule book gave them difficulty when the players first came down to play?

“This sport, football, is much different than other sports, all the skills are the same. Tackling, blocking, catching its all the same no matter what league you’re in. The only thing is the rule book, but I believe the coaches of each team had done a good job assessing that into their game.”

During last year’s grey cup festivities in Edmonton, it had been announced that the CFL would return to the Maritimes, how exciting is this news for not just the CFL, but the fans too?

Its been a life long dream for many of us, as a Winnipeger, I’ve lived in the middle of not just the country, but the league. The CFL is a coast to coast league being the Pacific to the Atlantic, and if we get this 10th team, it would complete the league as the said coast to coast league. The possible 10th team will be exciting for not only the CFL fans, but all of Canada.”

At what stage of the expansion process are we at as of now?

“Well, right now we are leaning on the stadium being building process, the owners and guys in charge of the project are few of the most remarkable people you’ll meet, they are very keen on the opportunity they were given, right now Anthony LaBlanc, Gary Drummond, and Bruce Bowser are all in talks with Halifax and once they get done with the stadium, we should get the 10th team we’ve all dreamt about.”

Through the past few years, the talent we’ve seen out of Canadians has grown enormously, is there a chance we’ll see any changes regarding the CFL’s National/International ratio?

“This year when we met with the CFLPA regarding the CBA, we revisted talks regarding the ratio about the 7 national starters and 21 nationals on the roster. There shouldnt be much changes regarding the ratio, although one change we have in mind is when an international athlete plays USports here in Canada, once they graduate, they’d become a national in the CFL, therefore teams would be able to keep an extra few guys on their rosters.”

Are you at all surprised with the growth of talent?

“Not suprised at all, I’ve always been a big fan of the Canadian’s junior sports and University athletics, and they have grown some great CFL players and also world class athletes. In the last few years, we’ve seen Canadians and CFL players head down south to play football in the NFL, and the junior leagues deserve more credit for the opportunities they’ve given these athletes.”

You mentioned Canadians going to the NFL, but CFL players going too, how well do you think former REDBLACKS wide receiver Diontae Spencer will perform with the Steelers?

“Spencer is a very good player and a very talented person. The thing I know about sports in the next level is the fact that it is all about hard work and a lot of luck. When he goes into camp this year, the discussion will be who stayed healthy and who had a good day, I wish him and all guys down south all the best, and if Spencer is able to stay healthy during camp, he’ll find a way to use his skills with the Steelers.”

This season marks the 6th season in existence for Ottawa and the REDBLACKS, what do you have to say regarding the success they’ve had along with the great fan base they built during their success?

“Having spent an hour walking arount the stands, I realize there is an atmosphere, and culture within the REDBLACKS community, what they’ve built here at OSEG, is truly special. OSEG has done a very good job and what they’ve done is good for the CFL to role model other CFL franchises on how to build a CFL franchise to perfection.”

Start to the new era

From the Air

From a fans perspective, both quarterbacks Davis and Fajardo both played outstanding, completing the tough throws, running when the pass isn’t there, and being an overall leader. Dominique Davis, going into week 2 he had yet to throw a touchdown pass, but making up for it was his 3 touchdowns on the run, including the game winner against Calgary. Without a touchdown thrown for number 4, he goes into the game trying to get this season rolling by throwing a few touchdowns early in the game. Down 7-0 with a Cody Fajardo to Marcus Thigpen score, Dominique got the ball back, driving down with the drive ending in a Dominique Davis to Dominique Rhymes 20 yard touchdown, and a 2 point conversion catch by Caleb Holley gave us the lead 8-7. Fast forwarding farther into the game, Dominique Davis hit J.C Beaulieu and R.J Harris for touchdowns rallying up his stats to 30 completions, 354 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Dominique x Dominique

Both Dominique Davis and Dominique Rhymes connected 11 times gaining over 160 yards and a 20 yard touchdown completion. On the run, Davis was also able to carry the ball for 44 yards on 5 keeps.

Run trouble?

Coming off a huge victory in Calgary, where Mossis Madu had ran for 100 plus yards, it was expected he’d do the same this week against Saskatchewan, although things changed, and he ran under half the amount he did last week, along with a 2 point conversion, he ran 14 times for 50 yards, while catching it 3 times for 8 yards. The offensive line was able to give him holes for most runs, but the problem for the run game may be that we just didn’t run him enough.

Top 10 players of the game

Dominique Davis

Davis threw for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns while running it for 44 yards on 5 rushes!

Dominique Rhymes

Rhymes went all out against Saskatchewan, catching the pig skin 11 times and taking it 168 yards along with a beautiful 20 yard touchdown reception.

Lewis Ward

When we didn’t get a touchdown, we got a field goal courtesy of Lewis Ward, Ward was 6/6 on field goals while hitting a 45 yard field goal which was the longest of the night.

Danny Mason

Danny Mason, taking J.R Tavai’s spot in last night’s game was able to make 6 defensive tackles to go with a big quarterback sack.

Jonathan Rose

The fan favorite on the defensive side of the ball was outstanding last night, making 6 tackles, along with a hard hit in the second half that took a toll on William Powell.

R.J Harris

R.J Harris, who looks to be a top receiver in the league hauled in 5 catches forn51 yards along with a few shifty moves on a touchdown.

Antoine Pruneau

The longtime REDBLACK is still in business with 4 tackles and a momentum changing forced fumble.

Brad Sinopoli

Brad Sinopoli, got the ball early and hauled in 5 catches for over 40 yards.

Avery Williams

Williams, going into his second year with the REDBLACKS has yet to see lots of playing time, but this year he looks to be a leader on the defense, racking up 4 tackles and a fumble recovery.

Mossis Madu

Mossis Madu, in his second start as the starting RB for the Redblacks rushed for 50 yards on 14 carries while catching the ball 3 times for 8 yards.

Tomorrow’s roster, who to look for

OTTAWA, ON – OCT 05: CFL match between the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Winnipeg Bombers at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, ON. Canada on Oct. 5, 2018. PHOTO: Steve Kingsman/Freestyle Photography

Depth chart

QB: Dominique Davis #4, Jonathon Jennings #3, William Arndt #8

RB: Mossis Madu #23, Brendan Gillanders #25

FB: J.C Beaulieu #46, Anthony Gosselin #45

SB: R.J Harris #84, Caleb Holley #80, Brad Sinopoli #88, Julian Felio Gudino #83

WR: Dominique Rhymes #15, Seth Coate #87, Ryan Lankford #14

OT: Mark Korte #65, Jason Lauzon-Seguin #58

OG: Evan Johnson #64, Nolan MacMillan #66

C: Alex Mateas #56, Alex Fontana #51

DE: Danny Mason #95, Avery Ellis #98, Nigel Romick #47

DT: Michael Klassen #94, Mike Wakefield #96, Ettore Lattanzio #49

MLB: Avery Williams #42, Jonathan Newsome #43, Nicolas Boulay #48

OLB: Anthony Cioffi #24, Kevin Brown #31, De’Andre Montgomery #41

HB: Corey Tindal #28, Sherrod Baltimore #27

CB: Jonathan Rose #9, Chris Randle #7, Randall Evans #2

S: Antoine Prunaeau #6, Justin Howell #21, J.P Bolduc #20

Who’s balling out?

Caleb Holley

Caleb Holley has spent his whole career in Saskatchewan and this Thursday, he will face the Roughriders for the first time in different colors. Holley caught 5 balls for over 50 yards on Saturday vs Calgary and is ready to put up big numbers against his former squad.

Danny Mason

Danny Mason, who spent all of last year with Ottawa has yet to put up big numbers has the starting job vs Saskatchewan. Replacing J.R Tavai, Mason is set to sack Cody Fajardo

Brad Sinopoli

Brad, the longtime CFL veteran is looking to set records like he did last season. Last week in Calgary he hadn’t been looked at until the second half, where he caught 7 footballs for over 70 yards.

Keys to the game

Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Dominique Davis celebrates after his game winning touchdown against the Calgary Stampeders during CFL football in Calgary on Saturday, June 15, 2019. Al Charest/Postmedia

Stopping the run game

The REDBLACKS faced a little bit of trouble stopping the run game in previous years, but this year looks like a change! The Roughriders are missing a huge piece of their offense with Zach Collaros’ injury, they will likely lean to former Ottawa running back William Powell. Powell who had a touchdown on over 100 yards in last weeks game against Hamilton, is back for his first game at TD Place in new colors. For us fans, it will be weird, but the players should be happy to be able to get a few hits in early in the game. Powell will not be the only Roughrider carrying the ball,as QB Cody Fajardo is known as a mobile quarterback. When watching Thursday’s game, look out for Saskatchewan’s number 7, as he rushed 7 times for 34 yards and a touchdown in the 3 quarters he played against Hamilton, and has to be stopped this week in Ottawa.

No penalty trouble

Last week in Calgary, the referees were throwing flags play after play as the two teams, Ottawa and Calgary have recently started a rivalry. Even though it is a rivalry, and a few of the penalties were good ones to take these penalties could hurt us later on in the year. The REDBLACKS ended last week’s game with 11 penalties for a total of 113 yards. If the guys keep getting called out for penalties, we could get into some serious yardage trouble.

Stopping the defensive line

In last weeks victory in Calgary, the offensive line put up a great fight getting our running back Mossis Madu over 100 yards and giving Dominique Davis lots of time in the pocket. Although we had an easy time against the Calgary defensive line, it doesn’t mean anything is guaranteed against Saskatchewan. The Roughrider were granted a big defensive lineman this off-season in Micah Johnson. Johnson, who is now a golden part of Saskatchewan’s defense had beaten Ottawa in last year’s grey cup. If Ottawa’s offensive line is just as good as it was last week in Calgary, Mossis Madu should be a happy guy walking off the field tomorrow night.

Alex Mateas

Alex Mateas, the Ottawa native has spent the last 4 seasons playing for the Redblacks! The 2015 first overall pick, grew up in Ottawa and has been a hometown hero since! Before his days in red and black, Alex was the center for the University of Conneticut AKA UCONN. He was first commited to Penn State, although he did not have a great experience with the Nittany Lions, and was a red shirt freshman going to UCONN. 

The hometown hero, was seltected 1st overall in the 2015 CFL draft by the Redblacks. His first year was all about learning, having veteran Offensive lineman around him helped him out to have future success. After the Redblacks finished 12-6 and lost in the Grey Cup in ’15, Alex was named a starting Offensive Guard for the ’16 season.
In the 2016 season, Mateas was granted the starting job, and was lucky enough to have limited injuries which let him start the majority of games! Going into the playoffs, Mateas was set to start in the 2016 Eastern Final vs the Edmonton Eskimos. During the snowy day in Ottawa, Kinean Lafrance carried the ball for over 150 yards, and the offensive line looked ready for the Grey Cup! The boys were ready, and they sure did show that they were ready! The 39-33 final came in Overtime, and Alex became a Grey Cup champion! Since then, Mateas has found a spot back at his number one position. He is the starting center hungry for another grey cup victory!
During this offseason, I’ve talked to a few of the players and asked them a few questions…
Q: What is your favorite color? A: Blue
Q: What is your favorite meal, desert included?  A: Paella (spanish rice dish) and for desert, a treatza pizza!
Q: What is your dream car? A: An Audi RS7
Q: If you couldn’t play sports, what would you be doing? A: I’d be a Phys Ed teacher.
Q: What NFL team do you want to play for, and why? A: Colts, I want to block for Andrew Luck.

Now that you know more about Alex Mateas, I hope you have become a bigger fan of his! 

A Crazy finish

Photo from REDBLACKS Twitter

The Breakdown

The Redblacks came back from a 21-6 to deficit to beat the Calgary Stampeders 32-28. The win turned many heads in the CFL, as this game was the Grey Cup rematch and the REDBLACKS roster changed heavily since the big game. With new guys in at the big roles, Ottawa pulled off something that has been challenging since the departure of Henry Burris. We beat Calgary!

Photo from REDBLACKS Twitter

The Spectacular Seven players

Mossis Madu

Replacing William Powell, Mossis Madu rushed for 112 yards on 24 carries and 87 of those came in the first half! Mossis Madu didn’t just do it all on the run, he caught 6 passes and had 28 yards. He ended the game with 140 all purpose yards on 30 touches.

Anthony Cioffi

Anthony Cioffi took a little more advanced role in tonight’s game compare to his 2018 season, he stood on his head, getting 3 total tackles, along with a huge forced fumble with 38 seconds left in the first half.

Jonathan Rose

Jonathan Rose, who was almost taken out of this game because of the susppension he didnt face for the Grey Cup game, was an absoloute stud. He sealed the game shut with an interception in the endzone with only 13 seconds left, along with 2 defensive tackles and a fumble recovery.

R.J Harris

R.J Harris, starting up his second year in plaid with a much bigger role than last season. With both, Diontae Spencer and Greg Ellingson gone, R.J has been granted the opportunity to be a number one target between Brad Sinopoli and Caleb Holley. R.J finished today’s game with 6 catches for 82 yards, while running in a 2 point conversion in the first half.

Dominique Davis

Taking away his interceptions, Dominique Davis had a big performance to start the year! Even without a touchdown through the air, he still tossed for 276 yards on 29 completions while running it 5 times for 10 yards and THREE touchdowns!

Avery Williams

With Kyries Hebert one of the many free agent departures, Avery was given a leadership role among the defensive players. To open up the 2019 season, Williams got 1 sack and 4 defensive tackles, leading the team in tackles.

Lewis Ward

Lewis Ward, coming off his big record breaking year in 2018, he has already given himself a start to break more records. Lewis was 3 for 3 for field goals and 1 for 1 for conversions tonight. His longest field goal came on a 44 yard field goal, while the others came on a 26 yarder and a 30 yard field goal.

Season starts now!

Game Preview

The REDBLACKS open up their 2019 CFL season in Calgary tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern time. If you are looking for the game on your TV, you can watch Saturday’s game on TSN 1 and 5, BT Sports, and ESPN3 and if you are on the radio or online look up TSN1200, Sirius XM 167,174 AND TSN.CA/LIVE. If you didnt know, this game is the 2018 Grey Cup rematch, where Trevor Harris and the Redblacks faced off against Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders.

Look for

Dominique Davis

Dominique Davis, the Ottawa Redblacks QB was named the team’s starting quarterback on June 3rd just before Ottawa’s last pre-season game in Montreal. Dom has spent his career in the CFL behind Matt Nichols and Trevor Harris, and given this opportunity as a starting quarterback is everything he’s wished for. He should be making the most of this chance, so when watching this week’s game look out for a big game out of Davis. Even though he has been given the starting job for week one, things can change for weeks to come.

Mossis Madu

Mossis Madu, 31 year old CFL veteran running back has his first shot at the starting job. The Oklahoma Sooner product spent 3 years on NFL practice rosters, and active rosters of Tampa Bay and New York while he rushed for 55 total yards in his time there, he was signed by Hamilton of the CFL. In the 2014 season with the Ti-Cats, Madu played 15 games, getting over 700 all purpose yards,alongside 2 rushing touchdowns. After a season ending injury in 2015, the Ottawa Redblacks granted Madu with a contract to play the 2016 season behind William Powell. In both the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Mossis combined for 1108 all purpose yards and 7 touchdowns. Madu only started games where Powell was injured, therefore this season is really the first time he will start a season in a professional league. Madu faced a problem when Crockett came into camp, as he had an outstanding pre-season getting 117 all purpose yards in the two halves of pre-season football he participated in. With John Crockett being a possible threat taking the spot at running back, don’t be surprised if Mossis Madu puts up some big numbers against Calgary’s defense.

Michael Klassen

Michael Klassen, the Calgary native is back home, but fighting to keep a starting job on the defense. He was given the starting position as a defensive tackle\ nose guard for this week’s game where he will play infront of all his family and childhood friends in his hometown of Calgary.

Starting 5

This week’s starting offensive line (the Canadians)

  • Canadian LT, Mark Korte
  • Canadian LG, Evan Johnson
  • Canadian C, Alex Mateas
  • Canadian RG, Nolan MacMillan
  • Canadian RT, Jason Lauzon-Seguin

This week’s starting receivers

  • American WR, Dominique Rhymes
  • American SB, R.J Harris
  • Canadian SB, Brad Sinopoli
  • American SB, Caleb Holley
  • American WR, Seth Coate

This week’s specialists

  • Canadian Place Kicker, Lewis Ward
  • American Punter/Kicker, Richie Leone
  • Mexican Kicker/Punter, Jose Maltos
  • Canadian Long-snapper, L.P Bourassa
  • American Kick Returner, Ryan Lankford

This week’s defensive line

  • American DE, J.R Tavai
  • Canadian DT, Michael Klassen
  • American DT, Mike Wakefield
  • American DE, Avery Ellis

Week 1 secondary

  • American DB, Chris Randle
  • American DB, Jonathan Rose
  • American HB, Corey Tindal
  • American HB, Sherrod Baltimore
  • Canadian S, Antoine Pruneau

Hueso Debut

Thursday June 13th @ Babylon Nightclub

Doors open: 10:00 pm, Show at 11:00 pm

Former Redblacks wide receiver, Tyrone Pierre also known as Hueso has his first show THIS THURSDAY! The receiver launched his music career this CFL offseason, and has made a name for himself, reaching 25k followers on Instagram, 1k subscribers on his Youtube music, and is averaging over 250 monthly listeners on Spotify music.

The Ottawa native is set to debut his career this Thursday at the Babylon Nightclub, it looks like it will be a $10 entry fee, and to get in you must be 18.

An end to cut-down day

Ottawa Redblacks QB Danny Collins during training camp at TD Place on May 21, 2019. Errol McGihon/Postmedia

What is Cut-down day?

Cut-down day was today, Saturday June 8th. Where each of the CFL teams have to release enough players so the roster sits at 46 players and the practice squad has 12 players. The deadline is 10 pm tonight, but most teams have already finished up this afternoon.

Our Cuts

*= Global player

  • Wide receiver, Jordan Bouah*
  • Defensive Lineman, Kevin Bronson
  • Linebacker, Charles Brousseau
  • Defensive Back, Joe Brown
  • Defensive Back, Shamar Busby
  • Quarterback, Danny Collins
  • Running back, Dalton Crossan
  • Offensive Lineman, Jacob Czaja
  • Defensive Back, Monteze Latimore
  • Linebacker, Drew Morris
  • Wide Receiver, Tyrone Pierre
  • Wide Receiver, Darius Powe
  • Offensive Lineman, Ryan Schmidt
  • Defensive Lineman, John Sheehy
  • Defensive Back, Ironhead Gallon
  • Defensive Lineman, Max Valles
  • Defensive Lineman, Max Soto*

Cut breakdowns

  • Danny Collins, the former Maine quarterback was entering his third season in plaid while a Quarterback Carousel took place during camp. This off-season, Ottawa lost their starting QB, Trevor Harris and got Jonathan Jennings to fight the starting job with Dominique Davis. While the two fought for the #1 and #2 spot, there was a mild competition between Danny Collins and Will Arndt for the 3rd spot on the chart. Once camp ended, Will Arndt threw for over 300 combined yards on 23 completions, winning the spot over Danny Collins who threw for 137 yards on 13 completions.
  • Ironhead Gallon, the 25 year old DB entering his rookie year of his CFL career had an outstanding camp. He started his CFL career in a preseason game vs Hamilton, where he had 7 defensive tackles and was the defensive player of the game. The next week in Montreal he got one tackle, and bad news. The former Georgia Southern athlete, suffered a torn Achilles in the first half of his second preseason game.

2019 Practice Squad

  • Running back, John Crockett
  • Defensive back, Deandre Farris
  • Defensive back, Shaneil Jenkins
  • Wide Receiver, Wesley Lewis
  • Running back, Greg Morris
  • Offensive Lineman, Daniel Omara
  • Defensive Lineman, Kene Onyeka
  • Offensive Lineman, Devondre Seymour
  • Defensive back, Ranthony Texada
  • Wide Receiver, Guillermo Villalbos
  • Defensive Lineman, Blaine Woodson

We didn’t win, but we didn’t lose

For the last pre-season game, for those that watched, witnessed the unusual tie at 20-20. You also would have noticed a few position battles at RB, QB, WR, DB and on the defensive line.

Eye Openers

The run game

Throughout the football game, we had two running backs in the game. John Crockett (#35) for the first half and Dalton Crossan (#30) for the second half.

With the two backs splitting time at the position, they combined for a total of 103 all-purpose yards on 16 touches.

  • John Crockett, 4 carries for 14 yards, 4 catches for 38 yards.
  • Dalton Crossan, 7 carries for 34 yards along with 1 catch for 17 yards.

This season will all depend on touches that the backs get, with Mossis Madu and John Crockett probable starters in the position, they don’t always make the big plays. When we have the backs in the game we’ve got to give them the ball early, therefore once they get it about the 5th carry they’ll be heated and ready to make a big play.

Pass Catchers Galore

This off-season we lost Trevor Harris, our starting QB, now we’re mixing through some CFL backups. But this is a perfect year for a new Quarterback, because with all these great recievers, nobody should be worried about how experienced our QBs are.

This pre-season, there has been a few slot backs/receivers that have caught an eye or two by the fans, here is a list of them with their combined pre-season stats.

Stats *= fighting for spot on roster

  • Nate Behar, 5 catches for 33 yards.
  • Jacob Scarfone* 8 catches for 82 yards.
  • DeVonte Dedmon*, 2 catches for 51 yards, 3 kick returns for 157 yards and 2 punt returns for 23 yards.
  • Ryan Lankford, 4 catches for 74 yards, 5 punt returns for 50 yards and 2 kick returns for 46 yards.
  • Caleb Holley, 3 catches for 120 yards.
  • R.J Harris, 2 catches for 30 yards.
  • Dom Rhymes, 2 catches for 25 yards.
  • Tyrone Pierre*, 2 catches for 17 yards.
  • Guillermo Villalbos*, 3 catches for 28 yards.
  • Marco Dubois 4 catches for 45 yards.

Top 10 players

  • Jacob Scarfone, 7 catches for 75 yards (26 yard long)
  • Will Arndt, 16/23 184 yards 1 interception and a 1 yard QB sneak TD
  • John Crockett 4 rushes for 14 yards and 4 catches for 38 yards
  • Ranthony Texada, 3 defensive tackles and 1 interception
  • Danny Collins, 12/20 120 yards 1 interception
  • DeAndre Montgomery, 5 defensive tackles
  • Dalton Crossan, 7 rushes for 34 yards and 1 catch for 17 yards
  • Randall Evans, 1 defensive tackle, 2 special teams tackles, 1 sack and a forced fumble
  • Jonathan Newsome, 3 defensive tackles and 1 fumble recovery for a TD
  • Marco Dubois, 4 catches for 49 yards (30 yard long)

Cutdown day

With the CFL having their cutdown day this Saturday, there will be multiple transactions today and tomorrow, so stay up to date by reaching this page, or 3downnation.com