(Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
Zach Collaros becomes the first quarterback to start four consecutive Grey Cups on Sunday when his Winnipeg Blue Bombers battle the Montreal Alouettes in Hamilton, Ontario.
The Bombers won back-to-back CFL titles in 2019 and 2021 (2020 canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic) and lost by a point to the Toronto Argonauts in last year's Grey Cup.
The Alouettes ended a long drought and are back in the championship game for the first time since winning it all in 2009 and 2010.
Winnipeg finished 14-4 in the regular season and topped the BC Lions 24-13 in the West Division final last Saturday. After an 11-7 regular season, Montreal defeated Hamilton 27-12 in the East Division semifinals on Nov. 4 and pulled off a stunning 38-17 upset of Toronto to win the East last Saturday.
This week's initial injury report for the Grey Cup showed six Blue Bombers -- and zero Alouettes players -- missing practice Wednesday. Most notable for Winnipeg are the ankle injuries to 1,000-yard wide receivers Dalton Schoen and Nic Demski. The availability for linebacker Adam Bighill (calf) also is in question for Sunday.
"They've got depth on their team, they've got a great culture," Montreal coach Jason Maas said when asked about Winnipeg's injured wideouts. "They know what they're doing, they have a great system in all three phases, and I know they have a lot of buy-in by their players.
"Whoever is available will give us their best shot, and that's what we're going to do as well."
Collaros is hopeful that Schoen (71 catches for 1,222 yards and 10 touchdowns) can play on Sunday.
"Dalton's a big piece of what we do, I'm not taking anything away from that," Collaros said. "I think he's one of the best receivers in the league, if not the best in the league.
"He does a lot but we'll be ready to go no matter what that looks like on Sunday."
Collaros, who was under center for Winnipeg's Grey Cup wins in 2019 and 2021, also won it with the Argonauts in 2012.
His Bombers will be facing an Alouettes defense that recorded four interceptions and a fumble recovery and forced four turnovers on downs against the heavily favored Argonauts.
"Offense wins game and defense wins championships," Montreal quarterback Cody Fajardo said after the upset.
This is the 110th Grey Cup, with the Blue Bombers seeking their 13th championship in their 28th appearance and the Alouettes going for their eighth title in their 19th appearance.
--Field Level Media