Don’t quit. Never, ever quit.
Those words of advice Dominique Rhymes’ mom Tangela has repeated over the years have made a difference. Through adversity, she told him to grit his teeth, tough it out, work hard. Do that, she said, and it will be rewarded. Turns out she was right and Rhymes, in his third season as a receiver with the Ottawa Redblacks, has taken his level of play up a few notches. The 26-year-old has caught 64 passes for 1,020 yards — he’s the CFL’s eighth-leading pass catcher.
“She’s been so much of an influence in my life,” said Rhymes talking about his mother, a bus driver back home in Miami. “She tells me I’d better not quit anything I start. If I start something, I have to finish it. As a football player, early in my career and not being able to play as much as I wanted to do — she told me to keep working my butt off and good things would happen.
“We’re having a tough season, but that doesn’t mean I don’t give my best effort. I play every play like it’s my last. (My mom) taught me how to fight through adversity. She had her own battles, being a single mother, trying to raise two young boys and made sure we grew up doing the right things. I talk to her most every day. We talk about life, she helps me stay grounded and helps me fight through anything I’ve going through in life.”
Rhymes’ stats look great. He’s caught passes from three different quarterbacks — Dominique Davis, Jonathon Jennings and Will Arndt — as the Redblacks have searched, for the most part unsuccessfully, to find consistency on offence. But the numbers, Rhymes said, don’t mean nearly as much with his team flailing along with a 3-12 record – with games left in Hamilton (Saturday), Toronto (the following Saturday) and at home to Montreal on Nov. 1
“I’d take 200 yards (in catches) over this and just be on a winning team,” said Rhymes. “I just want to win. Individual stats don’t mean anything if you’re not winning. I’ve just been trying to do my best to help make my team successful so the numbers don’t mean a lot to me right now because we’re not winning, we’re not going to the playoffs. If you’re winning, it might be something big. But if you’re losing, it’s nothing, it’s not significant.”
Asked about the reasons for his success this season, the 6-foot-4 Rhymes, a potential free agent after this season, said: “Just being able to play more and get more opportunities – that’s what’s happened. I can still do a lot of things better – receiving and helping other receivers with my blocking. And I have to make more people miss after the catch, that’d help my team get more first downs.”
Asked about the big receiver, who’s averaged 15.9 yard per catch, Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said: “He’s a big target. We’ve been able to connect on some deep balls, he’s made some contested catches. The reason you don’t hear about him much is football’s a team game so when the team is not doing well, that stuff doesn’t get highlighted. If we were a winning team, people would be talking about him a lot more. We were confident going into the season that a guy like him could step up and do some good things. I’m not surprised by the year he’s having.”
It is worth noting that the Redblacks had four 1,000-yard receivers in each of 2015 and 2016 – Chris Williams, Greg Ellingson, Ernest Jackson and Brad Sinopoli and three 1,000-yard receivers in 2017 and 2018 – Diontae Spencer, Ellingson and Sinopoli.
SECOND AND LONG: Toronto Argonauts running back Chris Rainey has been handed a maximum fine for a high hit on Redblacks defensive lineman Nigel Romick last Friday (Romick had caught the ball on a gimmick fake field goal play). Also, Argonauts defensive lineman Jhaustin Thomas was fined for his involvement in an altercation with Redblacks offensive lineman Stephane Nembot. Redblacks defensive lineman George Uko was fined for excessive contact on Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel Thompson … The Redblacks don’t return for a home game until Nov. 1, but fans still have the opportunity to cash in on a guaranteed $25,000 prize in a 50/50 draw. Tickets can be purchased for a chance to win during Ottawa’s game in Hamilton Saturday. It’s the first guaranteed prize for a game played away from TD Place. Proceeds from the draw – tickets are available at http://www.5050REDBLACKS.com – will benefit the OSEG Foundation.
DEFENDING THE DEFENCE: The stats show the Redblacks have given up 450 points in 15 games – an average of 30 per game (second worst in the CFL, ahead of just Toronto, with 505). They’ve given up an average of 410.8 net yards, again second worst to Toronto. They’ve also done some good things – they’re first in the league with 13 fumble recoveries and second (to Winnipeg) with 15 forced fumbles. The stats are probably skewed by the ineptitude of Ottawa’s offence, the defence has been on the field way too much. Asked about the defensive numbers, defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe said: “I don’t look at the stats. There are three things that are pillars for us defensively: Points, sacks and turnovers. Really, sacks are about pressures, those aren’t always things that show up. Our expectation is to be as consistent as we can be. You can look at multiple games where we’ve played to our standard of performance, you can look at other games where we’re battling.”
THE END AROUND: It’d be easy for the Redblacks to coast through their final three games – some fans are suggesting they already have. Asked about what he expects out of his players to the end of the season, Campbell said: “I want to see effort, enthusiasm, pride … all those things. I also want to see that mixed in with playing good football. We’ve consistently been in games this year where we’ve kept the penalties down, taken care of the football, forced some turnovers. That’s nothing new in football, but when we do those things our guys will play hard and we can make it a game in the fourth quarter.” … Former Redblacks DB Ranthony Texada was selected in Wednesday’s XFL Draft by the NY Guardians … Sounds like the Toronto Argos are going to give QB Michael O’Connor (who’s from Orleans) some game action down the stretch … Former Redblack Danny O’Brien (now a B.C. Lion) will become the fourth QB this season to start his first-career CFL game, joining Will Arndt (who will again be the Redblacks starter this week), Nick Arbuckle and Cody Fajardo. Lions QB Mike Reilly is sidelined for the season after surgery for a broken wrist.