It’s finally time to play football again.
With the 2023 Canadian Football League season on the horizon, the Ottawa REDBLACKS open their preseason schedule tonight, under the lights at TD Place. In town to serve as their opponent, when toe hits leather at 7:30pm ET, are the East Division rival Montreal Alouettes, for what’s sure to be a competitive evening of football.
The REDBLACKS will return many familiar faces, in the first of their two exhibition matchups, led by quarterback Nick Arbuckle opening the game under centre. He’ll be joined by more than a few compatriots on offence, including receivers Jaelon Acklin, Nate Behar, and Justin Hardy to name a few, along with running back Jackson Bennett in the backfield, and Dino Boyd, Cyrille Hogan-Saindon, Jacob Ruby, and Zack Pelehos on the offensive line.
On the other side of the ball, Ottawa will be led by reigning CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player Lorenzo Mauldin IV on the defensive line, alongside fellow standout Cleyon Laing. Veterans in the likes of defensive backs Abdul Kanneh, Brandin Dandridge, and linebacker Frankie Griffin will fall in behind them, with Justin Howell returning from a season-ending injury at safety.
Plenty of newcomers will make their REDBLACKS debut, however, with names like former NFL offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais, receiver Shaq Evans, and halfback Cariel Brooks, all of whom signed with the REDBLACKS in free agency. Returning for his second stint in the nation’s capital is defensive lineman Mike Wakefield, as well.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION:
The Alouettes finished the 2022 season with a 9-9 record, en route to a narrow East Division Final loss to the eventual Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts. It will be a new Montreal team in 2023, though, with quarterback Trevor Harris leaving for Rider-green pastures, star receiver Eugene Lewis joining the Edmonton Elks, and hard-hitting linebacker (and former REDBLACK) Micah Awe signing with the Calgary Stampeders.Montreal will send former Ottawa quarterback Caleb Evans to start the game at pivot, and longtime REDBLACKS long snapper L.P. Bourassa will also face his old squad.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
Alonzo Addae, defensive back, on the excitement of playing against an actual opponent: “We’ve been working with our teammates, and it’s competitive, but you can’t take it all the way there. Friday is an actual opponent, so we can take it all the way. We’re excited to play.”
Bob Dyce, Head Coach, on the focus going into the first game action of 2023: “It’s our first opportunity to show the identity of the 2023 Redblacks team, making sure we’re fast, physical, and a dominant unit out there. This is a great opportunity to evaluate these guys in a high-stakes contest.”
Abdul Kanneh, defensive back, on his approach to his ninth CFL season: “I look at each year as turning myself back into a rookie. It’s a clean slate, whatever you did last year doesn’t really matter. The moment you think you’ve got something in the bag, that’s when it can be taken away. It’s important to come in with the mindset like you don’t have a spot on this team.
7:30 PM ET |TV (ENG):TSN3 / TSN5 Radio: EN: TSN 1200