SPORTS

Ottawa Redblacks could match their 2014 win total with victory over B.C. Lions

07/01/2015 11:42 EDT | Updated 07/01/2016 05:59 EDT
Just two weeks into the CFL season, Henry Burris and the Ottawa Redblacks are already closing on a franchise record.

On Friday night, the Redblacks (1-0) host the B.C. Lions in their home opener looking for a second straight victory. What makes that noteworthy is Ottawa won just two games all of last year in their inaugural season.

Ottawa opened its 2015 season with a 20-16 win over the Montreal Alouettes, the club's first-ever road victory. It was a rather ordinary opener for Burris, who completed 23-of-36 passes for 263 yards and a TD but also three interceptions.

The Redblacks secured the win on Jeremiah Johnson's six-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. It was set up by Jovon Johnson's interception of Montreal rookie quarterback Brandon Bridge, a native of Mississauga, Ont., who was playing after both starter Jonathan Crompton and backup Dan LeFevour suffered shoulder injuries.

Crompton is listed day-to-day with a shoulder bruise but LeFevour will miss the remainder of the season.

Ottawa's defence allowed just 113 passing yards and 84 yards rushing versus Montreal while also recording two interceptions.

Last year, Ottawa ended Lions' quarterback Travis Lulay's season. Lulay made his 2014 debut against the Redblacks following off-season shoulder surgery but quickly re-injured the joint and missed the remainder of the campaign.

Lulay and Co. will play their season opener in Ottawa to mark Lions' head coach Jeff Tedford's CFL debut. The former long-time coach at University of California, Berkeley replaces Mike Benevides, who was fired following B.C.'s one-sided 50-17 East Division semifinal loss to Montreal.

The Lions have talent on their roster, including linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill. Elimimian was the league's top player and defensive performer last year after recording a CFL-record 143 tackles while Bighill remains one of the league's top defenders.

Offensively, Winnipeg native Andrew Harris provides much versatility at tailback while receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux remains a big-play threat.

American rookie Richie Leone handles kicking-punting duties after veteran Canadian Paul McCallum was granted his release upon deciding against the club's request he retire.

Pick — B.C.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Thursday night

At Winnipeg, the Bombers (1-0) are home following a 30-26 season-opening road win over Saskatchewan. Quarterback Drew Willy had 325 passing yards and three TDs while Paris Cotton ran for 108 yards. The defence, however, allowed over 200 yards rushing. Hamilton opened with a heartbreaking 24-23 road loss to the Calgary Stampeders in a Grey Cup rematch. Zach Collaros threw for 281 yards while the Ticats (0-1) intercepted Grey Cup MVP Bo Levi Mitchell three times. Brandon Banks had a 67-yard punt return TD.

Pick — Hamilton

Calgary Stampeders versus Montreal Alouettes, Friday night

At Montreal, Calgary (1-0) needed Rene Paredes' 50-yard field goal on the final play of the game to edge Hamilton and was also buoyed by Keon Raymond's 97-yard interception return TD. Despite throwing three interceptions, Mitchell found Jeff Fuller nine times for 148 yards, earning Fuller player-of-the-week honours. Cornish, the CFL's top rusher last year, had 70 yards on 13 carries. With Crompton ailing Bridge could make his first CFL start for Montreal (0-1) but doing so against the defending CFL champion makes it an even more daunting task.

Pick — Calgary

Toronto Argonauts versus Saskatchewan Roughriders, Sunday afternoon

At Regina, veteran Kevin Glenn starts for the Riders (0-1) with incumbent Darian Durant (Achilles injury) out. Linebacker Shea Emry (neck) also likely won't play but receiver Weston Dressler and safety Tyron Brackenridge are both expected back. Last week, Toronto's Trevor Harris threw for 347 yards and three TDs versus an Edmonton defence that allowed 300 passing yards just once last year. But the Argos (1-0) will be minus kicker/punter Swayze Waters (hip flexor), the CFL's top special-teams player last year.

Pick — Saskatchewan

Last week — 1-3.

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