Pre the perfect punter

Toronto Argonauts QB Damon Allen throws a ball during practice at the U of T Mississauga campus on...

Toronto Argonauts QB Damon Allen throws a ball during practice at the U of T Mississauga campus on Tuesday, July 18, 2006. The Argos face the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday. (Toronto Sun/Ernest Doroszuk)

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

In the punting pantheon, Noel Prefontaine's name is both prominent and dominant.

Among Argo lore, Prefontaine is in an elite class with the likes of Zenon Andrusyshyn, Hank Ilesic and Dave Mann.

When it comes to punting, kicking and having the ability to flat-out throw the football with the accuracy of a seasoned quarterback, Prefontaine is in a class of his own.

Perhaps no player on either side of the border has possessed such a diverse talent base and a mentality that is more in line with a linebacker.

"For me, Noel Prefontaine is the most complete player I've seen," Argos head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons said.

As the Argos try to end their three-game losing streak, Prefontaine's legacy has surfaced in the wake of the team formally announcing a contract extension.

The deal, which was made public last Friday -- a day when Raptors star Chris Bosh's contract extension filled headlines and airwaves -- means Prefontaine will remain an Argo through the 2008 season when he turns 35. Prefontaine joined the team in 1998.

In terms of continuous service, Antonious Bonner and Chad Folk are the current Argos with longer tenures. Mike O'Shea has played in more games, but the veteran linebacker has had two go-arounds in Toronto.

"Obviously, when you're in one place for a long time people will remember your name," Prefontaine said. "Hopefully, I'll be remembered for good things. I've always had a goal to be remembered as a player who did his job."

Clemons remembers the moment he first met Prefontaine and recalls a player with untapped potential and a heart that matched his skill set.

"He had helped kids who couldn't afford to play football," Clemons said. "Football-wise, Noel had so much unharnessed talent. We would convene for lunch and I told him he had to be more disciplined and do the same things all the time to be a great field goal kicker."

Clemons has no doubt Prefontaine will be mentioned with the CFL's best when he retires.

"All-time, there's no argument -- Noel is among the top-five punters," Clemons said. "When it comes to two-way kickers, Noel will eventually be the best."

The Argos named Prefontaine one of their team captains. He has dressed as the third-string quarterback, makes tackles and doesn't shy away from initiating contact.

"Punters have been proficient with their leg strength and arm," Clemons said. "What I've never seen is that set of talent in combination with being physical. That's Pre."

BRIEFLY

Injuries are beginning to mount as the Argos continue to prepare for Saturday's game in Regina. Wide receiver R. Jay Soward (leg) and defensive end Eric England (leg) each got banged up in practice this week ... Offensive lineman Jeffrey Yorga and defensive end Ronald Flemons, two training camp cuts, have been added to the developmental roster.


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