St. John welcomes continuity

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

He looks at the surrounding stalls and sees new faces who will line up on the offensive line, in the backfield and at receiver.

But for Jude St. John, the goal remains unchanged.

St. John enters his 14th CFL season trying to recapture the gridiron glory that is attained only by winning the Grey Cup.

Whether it's Rich Stubler in charge of the team or it's Bethel Johnson being asked to make plays on offence, the passion that fuels St. John is as old as the game itself.

While he has played on championship-contending teams, only once has St. John got to hoist the Grey Cup, a feat the Argos accomplished in 2004.

"We're ready to start," St. John said yesterday as the Argos continued to prepare for their regular-season opener in Winnipeg on Friday.

"We're ready to get beyond what we've done the past few years, which is just make it to the Eastern final.

"The longer you play and the closer you get to being done, it becomes more urgent in your mind. We're definitely tired of doing the same thing."

How quickly the new faces blend in with the team's veteran unit will determine how far the Argos are capable of going this year.

With so many new faces, especially on offence, St. John, 35, is optimistic the process won't take long because the team's approach won't be new.

St. John reckons this season marks only the second time in his career that he has worked with the same offensive co-ordinator in back-to-back seasons.

Whether Kerry Joseph or Michael Bishop gets the call to start under centre or if it's Dominique Dorsey or Jamal Robertson who is asked to start at tailback, Steve Buratto's balanced attack will be enforced.

"We have that continuity," St. John said. "Even though you see new faces and there's definitely a newness to our team, we'll be using the same system."

St. John, Chad Folk, Taylor Robertson and Jerome Davis are holdovers from last year's offensive line.

Mike Vanderjagt returns for his second tour of duty with the Argos and will handle the dual kicking roles.

While much has been made of Stubler's status as a rookie head coach, St. John doesn't see a greenhorn when he looks at the team's former defensive co-ordinator.

"Rich is a football man," St. John said. "In the past we've shared offensive ideas.

"He goes from a co-ordinator to head coach, but his philosophy hasn't changed. He keeps things simple and wants us to have fun."

Veteran defensive lineman Jonathan Brown is equally optimistic.

"This is the start of a new era," Brown said. "You play this game to win and to be crowned champions.

"That's what our focus is and it begins this week."

PEP IN THEIR STEP

The Argos are staging an old-fashioned pep rally tomorrow at Dundas Square to usher in the new season.

The four-hour extravaganza kicks off at 4 p.m.


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