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Game Preview: Ticats (5-1) @ Riders (3-3)

It’s a rematch of the first game of the season, but this time the Ticats make the trip to Regina to take on the host Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Hamilton is fresh off handing the Blue Bombers their first loss of the season, and currently sit four points up on Montreal for first place in the East.

The win was nice, but it didn’t come without a cost. Star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli went down with a torn ACL late in the first quarter. The Ticats were able to hold on for the win, but the injury has left some in the fanbase with an uneasy feeling about the future. The TIcats feel differently. It’s next man up, as Dane Evans gets his shot to be the man in the Hammer.

“Right now it’s Dane’s football team.” Said Coach Orlondo Steinauer. “This league is made up of guys who were backups. Very few guys come in and are starters, so Dane’s going to get every opportunity to achieve.”

On the field, Coach Steinauer says he likes what Evans brings to the team.

“He’s got good arm strength, he can make all the throws on the field. He’s mobile enough where he can keep you off guard.” Said Coach Steinauer. “He doesn’t have any problem stepping up in the pocket and delivering a throw. I’ve seen him stand in there and take a hit. He’s a tough guy and he’s competitive. He’ll keep coming at you.”

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It’ll be a loud and proud crowd at Mosaic Stadium. Evans, who played his high school ball at Sanger High School in Texas and then played college at the University of Tulsa, is no stranger to big crowds and hostile environments.

“It’s going to be awesome. It’s just another element to the game. We had good crowds at Tulsa at home and on the road and then with Texas high school football, I’ve been playing in front of those kind of crowds for a while. I’m really excited, it’s going to be a good environment.”

Evans joined the Ticats in October 2017. Since then he has shot up the depth chart, outlasting veterans with more CFL experience and flashy high profile college stars from south of the boarder.

He also re-signed in Hamilton in the offseason, even though there was no guarantee of playing time.

“I felt wanted and I wanted to be here.” Evans said of why he chose Hamilton. “I love this city, everything about it. They love their football here. It’s kind of like being back home.”

When it comes to the defensive side of the ball there were some standout performances for Hamilton. Jumal Rolle had his second career two interception game, while Nick Shortill filled in admirably for Simoni Lawrence. Shortill led the game with nine tackles and impressed his Head Coach.

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“He was prepared, he played fresh. He made the plays. It’s all about play opportunities and plays made so we’re very pleased with him.” Said Coach Steinauer.

Hamilton’s run defence will be key as William Powell currently sits in third in the league with 469 rushing yards. The riders also love to punch the ball into the end zone. Powell leads the CFL with six rushing touchdowns, while quarterback Cody Fajardo is right behind him with five. Fajardo has also done a nice job throwing the ball since coming for the injured Zach Collaros. He has been nothing if not efficient, currently sitting second in the CFL with 73.3% passing.

It also might be worth keeping an eye on Frankie Williams in this one. Williams has punt return touchdowns in consecutive games against Saskatchewan dating back to last season. Williams had a 98 yard punt return touchdown in Week 6 last year. He followed that up in this year’s season opener, running a punt back for a 68 yard touchdown at Tim Hortons Field.

Hamilton looks to improve to 6-1 on the year and sweep the season series against the riders. Kick-off gets underway at Mosaic Stadium at 9:30 P.M. EDT on Thursday night.

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