Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

OTTAWA – The Ottawa Redblacks can do nothing about this season, but players promise to learn from it for next year.

There were few highlights in a 3-11-0 season.

The finale with Friday’s 19-18 victory over Montreal Alouettes helped the Redblacks feel more optimistic about the future.

“In a season where you lose a lot, you sometimes forget how satisfying it is to win because it’s so hard,” offensive lineman Mark Korte said Sunday.

Ottawa head coach Paul LaPolice did not speak to reporters Sunday, but intends to do so later in the week.

After opening the season with a 16-12 victory over the Edmonton Elks, the Redblacks lost five in a row before beating the Elks again. They only won again on Friday.

The red-blacks find themselves looking for ways to turn their fortunes around in 2022.

A few key signings in the low season could help. A crucial decision for Ottawa is to start quarterback.

Ottawa has a few different options on its current list with rookie Caleb Evans and the recently signed Devlin “Duck” Hodges.

The 23-year-old Evans had a solid first outing in the mid-season 34-24 victory over Edmonton. He also constructed the late battle-winning touchdown in the victory over Montreal.

Ottawa Redblack's interim general manager Jeremy Snyder speaks at the end of the team on the season's media in Ottawa, Sunday, November 21, 2021.

Hodges played well in his one game, but Ottawa can explore free agency for more experience at that position.

“Every piece will be important,” said interim general manager Jeremy Snyder.

“Everything we add to this team going forward will be an important piece because they are a part of us, a part of the Redblacks, a part of the next step, the next stage.”

Another out-of-season question is whether Snyder, who was named interim GM following the firing of Marcel Desjardins last month, will make those decisions.

Snyder hopes he is, and promises to continue working as if he would. He feels he has a lot of information to make these calls.

“A lot of it went wrong and I think it’s pretty easy to evaluate,” Snyder said.

“What was good about it is that we saw so many young guys grow.

“I got to see a lot to evaluate those guys and see where they will fit into the future.”

Snyder specifically referred to offensive linemen Jakub Szott and Ketel Asse and defensive lineman Kene Onyeka.

“The type of players who got a lot of playing time that they might not have had in previous years or normal years, I think is the best way to say it,” Snyder said.

Ten players on Ottawa’s offensive line made their CFL debut this season.

“I think there was a lot to learn,” Korte said.

“We talked about how many guys got their first start and got opportunities that were unique to our team.

“I think it’s really going to pay off along the way for a lot of guys who’ve had a chance to get real live gaming experience that they might not have had anywhere else.”

Korte is a player that the Redblacks will want to sign again. The 25-year-old did not commit to returning when asked, but did not rule it out either.

One player who wants to return is defensive back Antoine Pruneau, an original Redblack who has played for the club since the start in 2014.

The 32-year-old from Montreal says discussions are underway and that he is sure to return to Ottawa.

Pruneau knows that the red-blacks can improve quickly.

Ottawa had a record of 2-16 in its expansion year before the ensuing season went 12-6 on the way to losing to Edmonton in the Gray Cup final.

The Redblacks then ended a 40-year Gray Cup drought in Ottawa by beating the Calgary Stampeders 39-33 in the 2016 championship game.

“I do not see how we should not be able to get some guys in the free agency to come here,” Pruneau said.

“It’s a great city to play in, so I’m convinced we’re going to bring in the few pieces that are missing, because of course there have to be changes.

“For the guys who are there right now, I think there are a lot of guys who can have a big impact on our team’s success.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 21, 2021.


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