Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros will tell you this is anything but a meaningless game.
The Tiger-Cats play host to the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday in a regular-season finale that won’t affect the regular-season fortunes of either team. Hamilton (7-10) will play host to the CFL West Division crossover team next week in the East semi-final, while Montreal (6-11) is out of the playoff picture.
Collaros, however, said he won’t need much motivation to take on his division rival.
“I enjoy playing against Montreal so it’s not going to be hard to get up for,” the 28-year-old said. “There’s still guys coming at you to hit you, so if you’re going to go out there and be lackadaisical it’s not going to be a fun afternoon.”
If Montreal wins, it will share the same record as Hamilton, but the Ticats hold the tiebreaker with two earlier victories against the Als.
“I don’t think that Montreal’s going to change [their style of play] at all,” Collaros said. “I don’t know about an offensive standpoint, but I know their defence, they’re going to leave it all out there like they do every single week.
“That’s one point that you always know about them that they’re going to play their hearts out and hit and be physical and it’s going to be a tough afternoon.”
Montreal has one of the top pass defences in the league, allowing the fewest pass touchdowns (17) and fewest touchdowns over all (34). They’ve also allowed the second-fewest points (390) and second-fewest passing yards (4,776 yards).
Hamilton head coach Kent Austin said Saturday’s game is all preparing properly and playing well heading into the post-season. However, starters will be used sparingly, if at all, including standout linebackers Simoni Lawrence, Larry Dean and Emmanuel Davis, and defensive tackle Ted Laurent.
Collaros, who returned last week after sitting out for two games with a concussion, will get the start. He’s had just nine starts this season after recovering from knee surgery and the concussion.
Austin said both back-ups Jeff Mathews and Jeremiah Masoli could see action. He is interested in seeing what Mathews, usually the third-stringer, can do in a game.
The goal is still to win, said Austin, but the game also “gives us a chance to look at some other guys as well and hopefully play a good solid football game before the playoff game.”
Vernon Adams will start at quarterback for Montreal. He left last week’s win against Calgary early in the second half with a leg injury, but that has healed up.
Montreal coach Jacques Chapdelaine said his team is here to build on their two-game win streak and end on a high note.
“When you have a lack of success for a number of games and you want to start turning things around to regain a winning attitude to get back on track, that’s not an easy thing to do,” he said. “It involves confidence, a new attitude, whatever you want to call it. And we’re in the process of doing that. So for us, continuing that process is first and foremost the most important thing.”
Hamilton will play without the team’s most outstanding player and top Canadian candidate Andy Fantuz, who went down last week with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The receiver had 101 receptions for 1,059 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Hamilton is already without Luke Tasker and Chad Owens. The good news is that receiver and speedy kick returner Brandon Banks is back after serving a two-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.
“It’s a lot of pride on the line any time you’re playing a football game and it’s in the division and it’s an opponent that you always see,” said Banks, Hamilton’s candidate for most outstanding special teams player with a league-leading three touchdown returns. “They’re a good group of vets over there so the vets will definitely have those other guys ready to play – no matter if it means nothing, or not – they’re going to come and play football. So you’ve definitely got to be ready for it.”Report Typo/Error