OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks are looking to do something they haven't done all season – win two straight games.
Ottawa (2-6-1) picked up just its second victory of the season last week as they beat the winless Hamilton Tiger-Cats 37-18. While they knew the last-place Ticats were struggling, they're still hoping to gain momentum from the win.
The Redblacks will have a much bigger challenge Saturday afternoon as they take on the B.C. Lions (5-4-0), who sit fourth in the West Division.
The Lions are coming off back-to-back losses and are just as eager to turn things around.
An Ottawa victory would allow them to move into second place in the East, but the Redblacks know their focus needs to be on the task at hand.
"We're just concentrating on B.C. right now," said Ottawa fullback Patrick Lavoie. "We can't afford to be thinking about the standings. Last week's win was big, but we need to keep things going."
Lavoie said there was a different feeling around the team this week as it prepared for the Lions.
"It's like there was a weight lifted," he said. "We always believed we could win, but beating Hamilton gave us some much-needed confidence as we did a lot of things right throughout the game. Now we need to take advantage of having the home crowd behind us and come out with a killer instinct."
Lions quarterback Jonathon Jennings understands what the Redblacks have been going through as his team has struggled the past couple of weeks.
B.C. laboured to hold on to a lead in a loss last week against Calgary, and the game before against Saskatchewan was ugly.
"We're not where we want to be, but we know we're a better team than what we've shown," Jennings said Thursday in Surrey, B.C. "Offence has been a little slow, and I put a lot of that on me. You go through ups and downs in a season. We've just got to pull together. We're in good spirits. We know we have a good football team."
Ottawa defensive end Jonathan Newsome will make his debut.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him play," said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. "He's a guy that I think can win on a pass-rush, you don't always have to scheme it up. He's a guy that can just beat a guy one-on-one.
"If we can get a few plays a game where he makes a big play whether he gets a knockdown or a sack or something like that, it's going to be a big help to our defence."
Newsome started the season in Saskatchewan, but was released July 4 and signed with the Redblacks three days later. The 26-year-old was placed on the six-game injured list as he dealt with a hamstring issue, but is ready and anxious to get out there.
"It's been a long time coming," said Newsome. "I want to bring some speed on the edge, be relentless and be constant play after play. I can't wait to get out here and have some fun."
The Redblacks are familiar with a few members of the Lions as speedy receiver Chris Williams and running back Jeremiah Johnson make their return to the nation's capital.
"We know what Chris is capable of and I know our defence is up to the task," said Ottawa receiver Brad Sinopoli. "They have a lot of weapons and have a very good offence and so we're just going to try and contain them and we're just going to try and score one more point than they do."
Western teams have dominated the East this year, posting an 18-2-1 record, and while much is made of the discrepancy between the two divisions Sinopoli admits he pays little attention to all the talk.
"None of us are really worried about that at all as we prepare to face the Lions," said Sinopoli. "We've never looked at it as big brother, little brother over here. We're just trying to win games here and keep pace with what’s going on in our division."
— With files from Joshua Clipperton in Vancouver.