The Hamilton Tiger-Cats return to practice Sunday morning for the first time in 10 days, preparing to ride in the CFL’s early-season Rematch Rodeo.
Hamilton plays host to the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Tim Hortons Field Thursday night. Both teams are coming off a bye week after the Ticats somehow managed to lose 18-13 in Regina on July 5.
This weekend’s schedule had Toronto playing in Edmonton and Winnipeg at B.C. in the back ends of home-and-homes which opened with Argo and Bomber wins last week.
Before the first Saskatchewan game, June Jones wasn’t sure how much he was going to alter his playbook for next week’s déjà vu.
“It’s going to be interesting,” he said. “I think some of it will change. But at the same time, you’re going to do the things that you did well in game one, and probably throw out some of the things you didn’t do well, and tweak it from there. This is a first for me, playing the same team two weeks in a row. A least there’s a bye in there.”
We’d suggest a couple of changes: a second-half running game that was as good as the first quarter’s and starting at least one offensive drive on the good side of centre field.
CFL statistics released before this week’s games contained both positive and negative indicators for the Ticats, which makes some sense for a team that sits at .500.
The Ticats are the only team in the league which hasn’t generated a point from a turnover; they are third-last in turnovers created, with only five; Jones is 0-for-4 in challenged calls; and Hamilton ranked last in fourth-quarter points per game.
On the other side of the ledger, the Ticats led in first-half scoring and time of possession; their defence led the league in fewest plays allowed and ranks second in yards per game against; Jeremiah Masoli was only marginally behind Mike Reilly in passing yards and Brandon Banks led in both targets and receptions.
Like a lot of us, Dave Hack would like to have known back then what he knows now.
And he was very good back then.
The offensive tackle from the Maryland Terrapins, who played nearly a decade for the Tiger-Cats and was a critical part of the 1999 Grey Cup winners, made the CFL east all-star team five times, including four in a row from 1999-2002.
He was this year’s honoree at the annual Cats Claws Walk of Fame’s dinner.
Beyond his post as Director of Phys. Ed. and Athletics for the Orchard Park Central School District near Buffalo, Hack also officiates high school games and runs clinics for offensive linemen, where he’s learning nearly as much as he teaches.
“There’s a lot of new stuff — techniques and ways of filming — I wish we had when I was playing,” he says.
Hack was a Ticats season’s ticket holder for two or three years after his playing career ended and still usually gets to a game or two a year at Tim Hortons Field. He keeps track of the team through ESPN broadcasts.
“It was good seeing them finish strong last year and they’re off to a pretty good start this year too,” he says.
He sees being named to the Walk of Fame “as a great honour. I’m humbled by the recognition. Hamilton meant a lot to me. I’m a Ticat through-and-through.”
It got overlooked in this space, but another Ticat great passed away last month.
Gene Ceppetelli was the centre of the Ticats’ dominant offensive line when they owned the 1960s East. He played five seasons (1963-67) for the Cats and won three Grey Cups, then won another with the 1970 Montreal Alouettes after he returned from two seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.
Ceppetelli, who was from Sudbury, played his college ball at Villanova. He died in Springfield, Pa., at the age of 78.
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