The offseason dreams are made of has quickly turned into the start of nightmares for the Ottawa Redblacks, dropping their first three games of the 2022 season. Two losses at the hands of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers followed by a loss to the BC Lions at home on Thursday night has the Redblacks sitting third in the East Division, ahead of only the Hamilton Tiger-Cats who have lost the first four games of the season.
Needless to say, being ahead of only one team in the overall league standings by virtue of losing fewer games is not what the Redblacks expected for this season, and despite some players showing their frustration with the situation after the loss to the Lions, running back William Powell it’s hitting the panic button just yet.
“That’s what you want to avoid, you don’t want to get frustrated,” Powell said. “You want to just go back to work. Being a leader on this team, I want guys to know that we have the talent and the depth to be productive, and to get wins. We just gotta keep with it and keep building out chemistry, and we will be alright.”
The record isn’t pretty, but thanks to the East Division’s horrendous 1-11 record against the West Division to start the season, the Redblacks are far from out of contention. Right now, however, looking at the bigger picture isn’t exactly what the Redblacks need, at least not according to Powell.
“You don’t want to look at it as a saving grace,” said Powell. “You’re right there in the mix, but at the same time, even if you weren’t, you would have to start putting those wins together and get that winning streak going.”
“We look at it more like it’s just about us,” he continued. “We’ve been right there in each and every game, but we just have to learn how to finish. I think that will come with time, work, and practice. We’re just looking inward to ourselves and we’re going to put these wins together and make sure that we are right there in the mix regardless of what the standings look like at the end of the year.”
Despite the loss in week four, it was the first chance Powell had to get back on the field with the Redblacks wearing the colours he hasn’t worn since leaving for the Saskatchewan Roughriders after the 2018 season. He missed the entirety of training camp and the preseason before missing the opening two games of the season thanks to an Achilles injury, but before week four’s game, he was back on the field and ready to go.
“It feels great to get back out there,” said Powell. “I had to sit out the first couple of games, but I’m back and more prepared than ever. I’m ready to get out there and be productive.”
“It was a little bit frustrating,” Powell admitted. “Coming back to Ottawa where I first started in the CFL, I wanted to be out there for the home opener at the least, but you gotta be smart and take it day by day. I was just as excited [to be there in week four] and it kinda built up some more anticipation, but now I’m just trying to build on it and keep getting better.”
Those six weeks where Powell was on the shelf didn’t get used up as a vacation. He was on the field every day, in the film study room, and he was offering a helping hand to everyone who might have needed it whenever he could. But it wasn’t one-sided, and he says that he learned things by being sidelined for that period of time.
“I tried to spread my wisdom that I learned over the years, but not just in the running backs room,” Powell said. “I tried to do it across the team as much as possible. I embraced that role with this organization, and whenever I can lend a helping hand, I’m willing to do that.”
“But I’m also learning from other people just as much as they are learning from me. Even from guys younger than me, I’m always taking and absorbing anything that I can learn.”
Now, the Redblacks head to Regina to take on the Roughriders looking to earn their first win of the season. But while that is the main focus of the week, Powell couldn’t help but think back on his time with the Roughriders where he notched his third-career 1,000-yard rushing season in 2019.
“It’s definitely going to be special,” Powell said. “I’ve had good games playing there in the past before I was with [the Roughriders]. It will be special going back to play against one of my former teams, but at the end of the day, it’s not anything that I get extra motivated for. I’m always an even-keel guy, so I don’t have to get too rowdy to do my thing.”
“I will be ready, I’m always ready,” he said. “I’m up for the challenge. They have a lot of good players, so I will be ready.”
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