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Argos Look To Dethrone Tiger-Cats In The East

No matter what the current standings tell you. The East division still belongs to the Tiger-Cats, and for the Argos to truly lay claim to the Eastern throne, they will have to beat Hamilton for a third time in the regular season at BMO Field this Friday night.

The stage is set for round 4 between Toronto and Hamilton in Week 15. The Argonauts lost the first meeting this year on Labour Day in Hamilton before turning around and beating the Ti-Cats in the rematch at BMO and then on Thanksgiving at Tim Horton’s field five weeks ago.

The two Argos victories over the Tiger-Cats this season were by a combined two points. By the skin of their teeth, on a shanked extra point in Toronto and a Boris Bede game-winning kick in Hamilton at the final gun. The Boatmen sailed to two improbable victories. Does Double Blue have one more against all odds victory left in them?

Argos Face Now Or Never Situation

Before the Edmonton rescheduling earlier this year. Friday’s game in the Six was initially supposed to be the 2021 regular-season finale for Double Blue.

No matter, the result of Toronto-Hamilton part 4 will have a great sense of finality, one way or the other.

A Toronto win over Hamilton ensures the Argonauts an Eastern Division Title, a bye week in the divisional round, and a home game at BMO in the East Final on Sunday, December 5th. Creating a win, and you are in the Grey Cup scenario.

Securing home-field where Toronto is undefeated and buying more time for players to get healthier and come off the injured list is vital for the team’s chances of going the distance.

A loss by the Boatmen to the Tiger-Cats on Friday shifts the balance of power in the East right back to Hamilton. By defeating Toronto this week, The Ti-Cats would reclaim their throne in the East at the expense of their most heated rival. Hamilton would be exacting revenge by beating Toronto on their home field. The same way the Argos did to them a month ago.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And although Toronto is 8-4 and has won 5 of their last six games. It’s Hamilton at 7-5, who looks like the better overall team right now. A red-hot Jeremiah Masoli and Brandon Banks have finally returned to their 2019 form, and in recent weeks, the Ti-Cats have looked like the same team that was overwhelming preseason favorites to get back to the Grey Cup.

On the other hand, Toronto is the walking wounded and has been limping its way to the season’s finish line with lackluster back-to-back victories over the 2-11 Ottawa Redblacks and 4-8. BC Lions. The oddsmakers currently have Friday’s game as a pick-em, but you have to figure that Hamilton will be the road favorite by Friday night.

There is a scenario where the Argos’ can back their way into the East title with a loss against the Ti-Cats. But it requires a Saskatchewan win in Hamilton in week 16 and a Toronto victory at home against the Elks potentially led by former Argo QB Nick Arbuckle.

But for Toronto, the only proper way to win the East would be to earn it by dethroning the Ti-Cats this week at home.

The truth is that there could be a part five to this 2021 series between both these rivals if they meet again in the playoffs. But where that game is played will be determined by who wins on Friday.

The Argos want to travel to Hamilton again this year, but they would like it to be on December 12th.

Argos Practice News And Notes

The big news coming on Tuesday was the Argos signing of WR Josh Huff, who was released last week by the Calgary Stampeders to make room for the returning Reggie Begelton. Toronto also added OL Thaddeus Coleman and linebacker Brady Sheldon. Coleman, 36, is a CFL veteran who can help provide depth at OT. He last played for Saskatchewan from 2016-2019. Sheldon is a newcomer to the CFL who has spent the last four years bouncing around five different NFL rosters.

Josh Huff could be a factor moving forward, especially as a returner. Despite Chandler Worthy’s success in that area recently. Huff is one of the CFL’s best punt returners (4th in the league with 12.3 yards per return) and could also contribute in the passing game when he eventually gets inserted into the lineup. Huff also has experience playing for Ryan Dinwiddie, as both were together in Calgary when Dinwiddie coordinated the Stamps offence in 2019.

During Hamilton week, the Toronto Argonauts tend to get very cagey and paranoid about their practices leading into the game. The Boatmen were back practicing on Tuesday, but ‘Team Walkthroughs’ are presumably taking place at an undisclosed location.

Take your pick; the practice location for Toronto could be Lamport Stadium, Centennial Park, Frank Zicarelli’s house, or maybe even a retro location like the Rogers Centre. Anything and everything is on the table when it comes to rivalry warfare between the Ti-Cats and Argonauts.

Preparing to play an opponent for the fourth time can be a difficult task for any staff. The Argos coaches will have their work cut out for them because Hamilton is at or near full strength for the first time this season. Particularly with a returning Don Jackson being a difference-maker at running back for the Ti-Cats in their last two games.

This year, the big story in the lead-up to every Argos game is how many of their key players are injured.

Last week, Dexter McCoil and Peter Nicastro exited stage left. This week, it’s RB John White, who is likely out for the entirety of the playoffs due to a left knee injury. Toronto hopes to get back DJ Foster, who sat out last week due to a foot injury. AJ Ouellette stepped up nicely against Ottawa and could be leaned upon again. But the Boatmen need as many hands on deck as they can get with the East at stake. Foster practiced in full on Tuesday.

DB Jamal Peters (knee) practiced in full as well. The Boatmen need as many defensive backs healthy as possible with the Ti-Cats coming to the Six. No definitive word yet from the team on DB Treston Decoud and SLB Chris Edwards, who were both banged up against the Redblacks, but they appear to be fine and weren’t listed on the team’s injury report.

Toronto hopes to get some new blood in the mix involved with linebacker Nate Holley and centre Jonathan Zamora taking the practice field. If they can get up to speed quickly, both players could be called upon to serve significant roles immediately against Hamilton. With McCoil, Nicastro, and others on the shelf.

One of the veteran players who came through significantly this past weekend was DE Cordarro Law. The CFL named Law a Week 14 Top Performer for his five tackle, one forced fumble, and two-sack performance against Ottawa. Law is Toronto’s fifth top performer of the season.

The Boatmen will need more of their high-profile players like Cordarro Law to step up on Friday and during this pivotal stretch in the season.

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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