Als trounce Argo-nots

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

It was billed as a meaningless game and the Argonauts more than lived up to the marquee.

With some of the team's higher-profile players on the sideline, the Argos used last night's CFL regular-season finale to audition a few unknown bodies, while some familiar names lined up in unfamiliar positions.

It made for extended stretches of ragged play -- a cause for mild concern -- but overall the Argos emerged relatively unscathed as they now prepare for next Friday's Eastern Conference semi-final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

With a season-high crowd of 31,212 in attendance at the SkyDome for an exercise in the insignificant, just imagine the turnstile potential for next week's playoff showdown between two heated rivals in a game that matters.

To no one's surprise, the visiting Montreal Alouettes used the occasion to pad the stats sheet and the record book en route to a 58-20 pasting of the Argos.

"You lose by one or you lose by 40, you lose," Argos head coach Pinball Clemons said. "Our focus is Friday night. That's the one that counts and that's the one we move forward (toward).

"Sometimes we get these ideas in our minds on how we lose and all of those kinds of things. (But) we'll be ready."

That's not to say the Argos weren't ready for the Als, but with such a makeshift roster and playing a Montreal team that was in post-season form, a rout was expected and one certainly materialized.

In a nutshell, the Argos were overmatched and ended up getting overwhelmed by a far superior Als team that ended the regular season with a franchise-best and CFL-high 14-4 record.

The Als get a bye into the Nov. 14 Eastern final, while the Argos and Ticats are left to renew hostilities on an evening that is promising to be explosive.

"You always want to win when you step on to the field," Argos receiver Robert Baker said. "But we had guys playing for the first time or starting for the first time and we were basically playing to get ready for next week."

Baker, a rookie, became the first and only Argos receiver to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

In terms of milestones, Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo took centre stage. The trigger-happy Calvillo became only the fourth quarterback in league history to pass for more than 6,000 yards in a season when he threw for 354 yards against the Argos, giving him 6,041 for the year.

Toronto's secondary was minus incumbents Orlondo Steinauer and veteran corner Adrion Smith, who started but didn't play much, making way for special-teams dynamo Bashir Levingston in the backfield.

"Bashir ain't no corner but you never know, we might have to use him in the playoffs in an emergency," Baker said. "We just have to make sure everything is covered and it will be when we meet Hamilton."

For the record, the Argos ended the season at 10-7-1. They lost but twice at home, with each setback coming at the hands of the Als.

The numbers weren't pretty and their play was uninspired at times, but on this night it didn't matter.

It will next Friday.


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