OTTAWA - There has been little to celebrate at TD Place this season with the Ottawa Redblacks' 2-14 record, but that hasn't stopped fans from throwing their unwavering support behind the new football club.
The Redblacks host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-9) Friday night in their last home game of the year and as of Thursday afternoon, the team was anticipating a ninth consecutive sellout.
Head coach Rick Campbell says he would love nothing more than to send fans home with a victory as their final memory of their inaugural season.
"If that (sellout) happens it's a pretty cool deal and a pretty big deal that you could sell out a whole season of a brand new football team," said Campbell. "We want to give our fans something to cheer about. Our guys don't take it lightly about having a sellout for the whole season. It's a big deal and our players know it's a big deal."
In addition, Ottawa has the opportunity to play the role of spoiler. The Tiger-Cats, who are tied with Toronto for second in the East Division, are still looking to make the post-season and a win over the Redblacks could be essential to their playoff hopes.
"If there's one team and one game we want to win it's this game right here," said Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris, who played for the Tiger-Cats last season and was released in the off-season. "Teams have played spoiler for us in our new season so hopefully we can play spoiler on this occasion."
Campbell says the team's focus is on it's own game, but Jovon Johnson admitted the idea of spoiling Hamilton's playoff hopes is appealing.
"At this point, since we know we're not going forward in the playoffs and knowing how tight the race is in the East, we have every intention of playing spoiler," said Johnson. "That will definitely be part of the plan."
The Tiger-Cats haven't had much success on the road this season, going 1-7 away from Hamilton but have defeated Ottawa twice this season.
The two teams played two weeks ago where the Tiger-Cats defeated the Redblacks 16-6, but with a few adjustments the Redblacks believe the result could have been very different.
"We've just got to finish our drives on the offence," said Burris. "The defence did a great job of holding them at bay, but if we can pull on our side and put the ball in positions to score and make some plays when we have the chance, that's the stuff that's been killing us all year and until we overcome those kinds of things we'll continually put ourselves in bad positions.
"But I have a good feeling about this one."
Once again the Redblacks will give rookie quarterback Danny O'Brien an opportunity to play. Campbell said he anticipates O'Brien will play at least five or six series over the course of the game. Last week against Montreal O'Brien went 3 for 5 for 111 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"We think he's a good player with a future and we want to get a look at him,." Campbell said.
O'Brien was originally No. 3 on Ottawa's depth chart, but moved up after Thomas DeMarco suffered a season-ending injury in late August. Overall O'Brien is 10 for 19 this season (52.6 per cent) for 177 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Burris has just one touchdown at TD Place.
Antoine Pruneau, who was named the CFL's top Canadian for the month of October, was impressive in the Redblacks' 16-6 loss to Hamilton two weeks ago where he had nine tackles and one sack.
Pruneau leads all CFL rookies in defensive tackles this season with 62 and in his last 11 games as a starter, has led the Redblacks with 59 tackles.
"We know what they're looking to accomplish and if we can stop them it would be an added bonus," said Pruneau. "We know it's going to be an intense game, but we were already very motivated to come out and play hard. This is our last home game and the best thing we could do is finish our season here with a win."
Notes: On the offensive line, J'Michael Deane will play at tackle, Jon Gott will play guard and Alexander Krausnick will play centre. Dobson Collins will play at receiver. On defence, Moton Hokins will play. Eddie Elder will not play Friday. ... Burris says his kids are willing to pass up trick or treating to come and watch him play.