Argos-Ticats rivalry meaningful again

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

It was a Week 8 battle on a Friday night between two franchises that have been through the ringer in recent years.

Yet when the 5-2 Toronto Argonauts took on the 3-4 Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Rogers Centre, one can only assume people across the country weren’t scrambling to find something else to do like they would have in seasons past when the Tabbies and Boatmen got together.

You know, like clean the lint out of their belly button or get a root canal.

No, there was some real and legitimate anticipation for the game.

Although the contest itself won’t be shown on ESPN Classic anytime soon, it’s good news for the CFL.

It’s been stated ad nauseum over the years the three-down loop needs the two franchises in southern Ontario to be strong.

And for the first time in about a billion years, they both appear to be worth watching (stadium issues in Hamilton aside).

The crowds aren’t exactly breaking down the turnstiles in an effort to get into either park, but the numbers will only improve if the winning continues.

Opening drive

Speaking of the Ticats, they have home games against the Argos and Montreal Alouettes (perhaps without Anthony Calvillo) and a road game in B.C. against the hapless Lions coming up. If they can win those three, there’s a chance they could be first in the East Division, which would have been unfathomable a month ago when they were 1-4 … The Saskatchewan Roughriders have sold out all four of their home games so far this season, and there are no tickets left for their next two contests at Mosaic Stadium. Their clash against the Calgary Stampeders Sept. 17 sold out Monday … Canadian offensive lineman Joe McGrath is back in the CFL after accepting a practice roster spot with the B.C. Lions. Edmonton Eskimos head coach Richie Hall called McGrath soft when he released him two weeks ago. “I have a reputation and I think I have to repair it, but I also know my skills,” McGrath told the Province … Speaking of the Lions, there’s a chance they will start their fifth offensive line combination in eight games against the Stampeders this week.

Endzone toss

There are rumblings the Eskimos might consider hiring a head coach/GM combo next year if the situation in the City of Champions doesn’t improve. One name already being whispered is George Cortez, the former Stamps defensive co-ordinator who is currently the Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach in the NFL … Hamilton’s Arland Bruce III leads the CFL with 812 receiving yards in eight games, which puts him on pace for 1,827. Last year at this time, Kerry Watkins led the league with just 606 yards after eight games … A record that won’t be broken anytime soon: Mookie Mitchell’s 160 grabs in 1998. Bruce is having a marvellous season, yet he’s on pace for only 106 catches.

Extra points

Calgary running back Joffrey Reynolds is fifth in league rushing, more than 250 yards behind leader Cory Boyd of the Argonauts, but he does have a game in hand. Not that he needs it. Last year at this time, Reynolds was sixth in rushing, more than 350 yards back of the top tailback. He still won the rushing title by more than 100 yards … Question apparently asked of Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Ken Miller last week: “Are the guys ready to get to work now right up to the Grey Cup with no other bye until the West Final?” … Alouettes QB Anthony Calvillo, who spent two days in hospital last week with a bruised sternum, has missed only six games since joining the Als in 1998. He could miss as much as a month … Tweet of the week, courtesy of Montreal Alouettes middle linebacker Shea Emry: “Mint chocolate smores! Chillin on the west coast. Dare you to beat it!” Linebackers are built differently today than they were in the 1970s.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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