Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman Derek Dennis gets ready for the Grey Cup Sunday. (The Canadian Press)

Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman Derek Dennis gets ready for the Grey Cup Sunday. (The Canadian Press)

Stampeders, Redblacks to battle for Grey Cup in relatively balmy conditions

Game starts Sunday afternoon

It’s November in Alberta yet tackle Derek Dennis will wear a short-sleeve shirt Sunday when the Calgary Stampeders face the Ottawa Redblacks in the Grey Cup.

But thanks to Mother Nature, the burly offensive lineman won’t be alone.

The forecast for Sunday is calling for a high of 0 C with the temperature at kickoff to be a relatively balmy -1 C. It will be mainly sunny with nine kilometre-an-hour winds and only a 10 per cent chance of precipitation.

In other words, ideal conditions for the six-foot-three, 345-pound Dennis, the CFL’s top lineman in 2016 when he made his first Grey Cup appearance with Calgary.

“I was here for the 2016 West final and I can’t remember what the temperature was but it was cold,” Dennis said following Calgary’s final walkthrough of the season. “I always wear a short sleeve shirt regardless of the weather but you know, this here is nice.”

Jon Gott clearly agreed. The colourful Ottawa offensive lineman, who chugged a beer in the Redblacks’ regular-season finale, participated in the club’s walkthrough in shorts.

Dennis and his linemates are obviously ready. Following Saturday’s walkthrough, they participated in a game of bocci on the Commonwealth Stadium turf.

“It’s our tradition,” Dennis said.

This will mark the second Grey Cup meeting between these two teams in three years. In 2016, the 8-9-1 Redblacks earned a stunning 39-36 overtime victory over Calgary (15-2-1) in Toronto.

Dennis feels he might’ve jinxed the Stampeders when he touched the Grey Cup prior to that game. This week, Dennis made sure Calgary rookies kept their distance from the hallowed trophy.

“It was my first professional championship game and I didn’t know it was frowned up,” Dennis said. “I was standing around it and someone said, ‘Do what you want,’ which was the wrong thing to say.

“So I’ve tried to be that veteran to lead the way for the young guys. Hopefully we can win it and get our chance to hold it.”

Saturday’s walkthrough was Calgary’s second session at Commonwealth, while Ottawa’s workout Saturday was its first here. Despite Stampeders receiver Markeith Ambles suffering an injury Friday — he won’t play Sunday after being stepped on — head coach Dave Dickenson felt it was good to get into the stadium and get a feel for the playing surface before Sunday’s game.

“I won’t say it’s the greatest chess move in the world but I think it’s something we’ve done differently,” Dickenson said. “It’s just still a football game, you’ve got to go out there and outplay the other team and make more plays.”

But Calgary receiver Chris Matthews said footing could be an issue as players wearing cleats Saturday had issues slipping.

“Cleats are out,” he said. “I don’t see it happening unless they do some real work on this ground.

“That’s not going to stop anything. I’m still going to go out there and route up some DBs. It’s going to make it look even better now that I get to route somebody up and they slip and fall.”

A sellout gathering of roughly 55,000 will see the top two teams in each division square off. Calgary finished atop the West with a league-best 13-5 record while Ottawa was first in the East at 11-7.

Canadian pop star Alessia Cara will provide the half-time entertainment. The Grammy-winning artist from Brampton, Ont., has a list of hits that includes Here, Scars to Your Beautiful, Stay and Wild Things.

Mayors Jim Watson of Ottawa and Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi have a friendly wager on the game. The losing mayor will wear the opposing team’s jersey in council and fly its flag. The two also agreed to donate $3 per point scored by the winning team to that city’s food bank.

Sunday’s game caps a busy week for Grey Cup organizers, who staged numerous indoor and outdoor events, including the Grey Cup parade Saturday. This week is expected to bring an $80-million to $100-million boost to the local economy.

The weather should set up for an enticing matchup between Ottawa’s high-powered offence and a Calgary defence that was the CFL’s stingiest.

Trevor Harris threw a playoff-record six TD passes in Ottawa’s 46-27 East Division final win last weekend against Hamilton. Harris finished 29-of-32 passing for 367 yards in leading the Redblacks to a fourth straight victory this season versus the Tiger-Cats.

Harris was a stellar 99-of-129 passing (76.7 per cent) for 1,203 yards with 10 TDs and no interceptions versus Hamilton this season.

Brad Sinopoli anchors a stellar Ottawa receiving corps. The CFL’s top Canadian this season had a league-high 116 catches — a single-season record for a Cannuck — for 1,376 yards and four TDs. Greg Ellingson (91 catches, 1,086 yards, five TDs) and Diontae Spencer (81 catches, 1,007 yards, seven TDs) also cracked the 1,000-yard mark.

Last weekend, Ellingson had eight catches for 144 yards and a TD.

Ottawa’s offence also boasts William Powell, the CFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,362 yards and six TDs. The five-foot-nine, 207-pound Powell ran for 86 yards on 21 carries (4.1-yard average) last weekend.

Ottawa allowed 43 sacks — second-most in the CFL — during the regular season but kept Hamilton’s defence off Harris.

Calgary’s defence led the CFL in fewest offensive points allowed (17.8 per game), offensive touchdowns (27), passing TDs (11), was tied for most sacks (45) and second in fewest offensive yards allowed (321.4).

In Calgary’s 22-14 West Division final win, the unit held Winnipeg to 294 offensive yards. Bombers starter Matt Nichols was 15-of-32 passing for 156 yards and sacked three times.

Calgary’s offence is definitely in good hands. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who threw a CFL-high 35 TDs this season, was named the league’s outstanding player for a second time this week.

Calgary swept the season series with Ottawa 2-0 but the two teams haven’t met since the Stampeders’ 27-3 road win July 12.

Calgary has 27 players on its roster who played in the ‘16 Grey Cup. Ottawa still has 13 players from its last championship squad, including cornerback Jonathan Rose.

Rose will start Sunday after appealing the one-game suspension he received from the CFL for contacting official Jocelyn Paul in the East Division final. Paul will work as the side judge Sunday, his third Grey Cup.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from JAKS.com)
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The illegal open fire above Naramata continues to smoke on Friday, June 18. The fire was left to burn itself out by BC Wildfire. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Illegal open burn in Naramata will be left to smoke

BC Wildfire could not confirm whether the property owner had been fined

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Keremeos’ heritage Grist Mill and Gardens. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Keremeos Grist Mill looking forward to restrictions easing with exclusive concert planned

Juno Award-winning folk artist Valdy is set to take the stage

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road closed due to motorcycle crash near Vernon

Emergency crews called to incident near Evely campground

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read