Black showing his worth to Argos

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

Matt Black came of age as an Argo last week, taking his turn on defence when all hell was breaking loose and taking his lumps on special teams.

Fearless and versatile, athletic and unassuming, Black was asked to line up in the defensive secondary when starters began to get hurt, moved into a role of linebacker when the Als went with certain formations on offence and was a presence on three of the four special teams units.

“Our coaches keep stressing to us that when your number comes up and you’re not prepared, that’s on you,’’ Black said. “When you get a chance, you have to play with a chip on your shoulder.

“You have to show your coaches and the other guys around you that you can produce and that you’re here for a reason.”

Which is precisely what Black achieved.

A product of Northern Secondary School, Black tore a muscle in his shin last season in Week 4, spending the balance of the Argos’ lost season alternating between the injured list and the practice roster.

“I ended the season on special teams, but the whole experience was frustrating,’’ Black admitted.

To his credit, Black arrived in camp this season determined to make an impression.

Until last week, most of his work was relegated to special teams.

Statistically, Black recorded one defensive tackle, but above all he showed a versatility and an aptitude to adopt to different situations when asked to line up on defence.

“You just have to be ready,’’ Black said.

Barring a repeat of last week’s bizarre series of events that saw as many as three defensive stalwarts miss snaps, Black will get his moments on special teams when Hamilton pays a visit on Friday night.

Special teams have been one of the Argos’ biggest strengths this season in jumping out to a 5-2 record and a share of first place in the East with the Als.

The return units get all the glory, but the team’s cover units have been pretty solid.

Black is often the first Argo down field, taking on an opponent’s wedge and making like a human bowling ball.

“You just got to sell out,’’ Black added. “You got to be one of those catalysts who sacrifices your body to take out a three-man wedge.

“You often end up on the short end of the stick and then you need the ice tank right after that.”

At 5-foot-10, Black isn’t exactly the biggest guy on the field, but his reckless style belies his stature.

In high school, Black played hockey, baseball and track before he moved on to college, where he attended Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.

Younger brother Eric has moved on from Northern and will soon attend St. Mary’s, likely following in Matt’s football footsteps.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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