Allen still eager to get it rolling

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

At the age of 41 and about to begin his 21st season in the Canadian Football League, Argonauts quarterback Damon Allen probably has endured all of the preparation he can tolerate.

Yet, there was a tinge of excitement in Allen's voice yesterday as he spoke of getting back on the gridiron for tomorrow's pre-season game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Halifax.

"You are always going to have a dogfight against those guys," said Allen, who will start the game. "It should be exciting for the CFL. What the league is trying to do, possibly a new franchise coming into the league, this is a little bit different. There will be a lot of interest from fans across the country."

The Argos were reminded of the significance of their Grey Cup victory last November during a party at part-owner David Cynamon's home on Wednesday night when they received their Cup rings.

"The fact that we won, and we had not received the rings yet, there was something still to do," said Allen, who has won the Cup four times.

"It was special and it finalized the season. This year, there are new challenges and we are looking forward to (trying to) repeat."

Of course, not all Argos have roster spots etched in stone. Coach Pinball Clemons said the club will take four quarterbacks to Nova Scotia when it leaves this morning -- Allen, Scott Covington, Charlie Peterson and Tommy Denison. Though Covington has been nursing a sore right arm/shoulder, both he and Clemons indicated he will play tomorrow. Covington has more than just the third-string job behind Allen and Michael Bishop to worry about. His wife, Jennifer, gave birth to the couple's first child, son Tyler James, on Wednesday night at Mount Sinai.

"Talk about a new-found respect for your wife," Covington said. "It was the most amazing day of my life."

Will Covington, who did not play football last season, be able to concentrate tomorrow night?

"I'm ready to roll," the 29-year-old California native said. "I have had a good week of mental preparation. I'm not worried whatsoever."

Also looking to make an impact is fellow rookie Hakim Hill. The son of former Buffalo Bill J. D. Hill has made a fine impression in camp, and Clemons and the rest of the coaching staff are curious to see how the 22-year-old running back fares in a game situation.

As for Clemons, the match in Halifax was being eagerly anticipated for a much different reason.

"I grew up in an environment in which I really appreciate the history," Clemons said, making a reference to his mother, Anna Bryant, who gave birth to him when she was 18.

"Halifax is where the black loyalists settled in the late 1700s, around 1775. For me there is a great sense of pride of going there. If we can get a (CFL) franchise there, it is more about our country and our culture."


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