OTTAWA - Mired in a nine-game losing streak, the Ottawa Redblacks can't be blamed for feeling desperate for a win.
While players and coaches will say they've come close and they're doing good things, the losing streak is taking its toll. The one and only victory for Ottawa (1-11) came way back on July 18 against the Toronto Argonauts.
Two weeks ago the Redblacks suffered a heartbreaking 35-32 overtime loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders despite having the lead for much of the game. Last week the Redblacks had to deal yet again with disappointment when they were unable to take advantage of what looked like perfect scoring situations and settled for a 15-7 loss to Montreal.
Losing is wearing thin, and not just for Ottawa. This week the Redblacks host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-7) who are dealing with their own four-game losing streak.
"The next game's the biggest game for us," said head coach Rick Campbell. "We're scratching and clawing to get wins just like everybody else does. We have the same approach to come out flying around and try to make a couple more plays and try to get a win."
Campbell says he can't allow his team to look at the Bombers as an easy target.
"We're focused on ourselves," Campbell said. "We think we have a big future ahead of us here. We're working hard everyday to get better and we respect all the people we play and there's a lot of good teams in this league and Winnipeg's no different. They've done a lot of great things this year and we're going to have our hands full, but we're going to focus on us and playing the best football we can."
Still, Campbell acknowledged that the losses have taken their toll on the group.
"We're hanging in there, but it's tough," Campbell said. "It's tough to lose games and tough to lose close games, but we think we have a lot of right parts to our team here and our guys have the right attitude, but we know we have to work hard and get better as fast as we can and start winning some of these close games."
It seems so long ago, but the Redblacks opened the season against the Bombers scoring on their first three drives. Ottawa went on to lose 36-28, but had a solid outing leading many to believe the young expansion team might surprise football fans.
Even players admit that first game was reason to have hope.
"Coming out like we did and scoring on our first three drives it seemed like our season was going to be a very successful season," said wide receiver Marcus Henry. "Unfortunately that's just how football is, you never know how it's going to go. We're getting better and we're a good team.
"The way we've been losing, like in the last minutes of the game, have been tough, but that's just going to build our character."
Henry says despite the losses the team is able to remain resilient because they're able to see improvement. It might not be evident in the overall standings, but Henry says there are some good things that the team can focus on.
"We're a lot more confident in what we're doing and we're used to the system now and just used to everyone that's around us so I think that's a big part of it," said Henry.
What does bode well for the Redblacks this Friday is the way the defence has played at TD Place. It hasn't allowed a touchdown on home field in three of the last four games.
"We've done really well on defence so far, but we still need to do better," said defensive lineman Keith Shologan. "We haven't won enough games, so when it comes down it we haven't played good enough for that reason. Our goal is for each of us to do better, starting with (Friday's) game."
Notes: Dobson Collins replaces Carlton Mitchell at receiver. Defensive back Jermaine Robinson will also be in the lineup.