Just six games into the regular season and already the Hamilton Tiger-Cats find themselves with a third different starting quarterback.
Veteran David Watford tops Hamilton’s depth chart under centre for Friday night’s home game versus the Calgary Stampeders. He replaces Dane Evans, who suffered an oblique injury in last week’s 17-16 road loss to the Toronto Argonauts and went on the six-game injured list.
Jeremiah Masoli, who’s listed as Watford’s backup, opened the season as Hamilton’s starter before being sidelined with a rib ailment. The Ticats haven’t started three different quarterbacks the first six games of a campaign since 2014 (Zach Collaros, Masoli and Dan LeFevour) and before that it was way back in 1976 (Jimmy Jones, Randy Mattingly and Rick Cassata).
By comparison, Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell will make a second straight start and the 100th of his CFL career. He returned to the Stampeders’ lineup last week after missing three games with a fractured fibula, completing 22 of 41 passes for 276 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 32-16 win over Edmonton.
The Stampeders (2-4) come into Friday’s contest with history on their side. They’ve won 11 of the past 12 meetings with Hamilton and are 19-2 over all since October, 2009, although the teams split the season series in 2019 for the first time since 2011.
But Mitchell, twice the CFL’s most outstanding player, is a perfect 12-0 in head-to-head matchups with Hamilton, and a stellar 78-20-2 over his career north of the border.
Hamilton (2-3) returns to Tim Hortons Field riding a 10-game home win streak, four short of its all-time mark (1957-59). But receiver Brandon Banks, the CFL’s outstanding player in 2019, will miss a second straight start. The Ticats are 1-6 without Banks compared with 24-10 with him in the lineup since 2018.
Watford will make his first CFL start after completing 6 of 10 passes for 78 yards in the second half against Toronto. He’ll face a Calgary defence that forced two turnovers and recorded seven sacks against Edmonton.
Hamilton punter Joel Whitford won’t play after suffering an injury prior to last week’s contest. Kicker Mike Domagala, who admirably handled punting duties last week, but did miss a game-tying convert late in the loss to Toronto, will concentrate fully on punting as Taylor Bertolet comes off the injured list to handle kicking chores.
Toronto Argonauts versus Saskatchewan Roughriders (Friday night)
At Regina, Cody Fajardo is listed as the starter for Saskatchewan (3-2) after suffering a concussion in last week’s 33-9 road loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Riders have won the past seven meetings, with Toronto’s most recent win coming in June, 2016. Nick Arbuckle has led Toronto (3-2) to wins in two of its past three games. After being held without a sack in his first three games, Shawn Oakman has three over his past two contests.
BC Lions versus Montreal Alouettes (Saturday night)
At Montreal, the Alouettes (3-3) will be without head coach Khari Jones after his positive COVID-19 test this week. Andre Bolduc, the club’s assistant head coach and running back coach, will handle sideline duties. The Als are coming off a bye and are 1-0 this year after a week off. Mike Reilly threw four TD passes last week in leading B.C. (3-2) past Ottawa 45-13, matching a career high. Willie Whitehead’s 119-yard TD off a missed field goal was the longest of its kind in the CFL since 2017.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers versus Edmonton Elks (Saturday night)
At Edmonton, the Elks (2-3) will be without starter Trevor Harris (neck). That could result in Taylor Cornelius, a 6-foot-5, 232-pound rookie from Oklahoma State, making his first CFL start. Linebacker Derrick Moncrief, a ‘19 CFL all-star with Saskatchewan, is expected to make his Elks debut. Winnipeg (5-1) is coming off a solid Labour Day sweep of Saskatchewan, and the defending Grey Cup champions are a stellar 3-0 within the West Division. The Bombers have won three straight.
Last week: 2-2.
Over all: 10-13.