Argos, Cats armed and ready

Cleo Lemon is the fourth quarterback the Argos have started in the past four Labour Day matches...

Cleo Lemon is the fourth quarterback the Argos have started in the past four Labour Day matches against the Ticats. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

HAMILTON — Damon Allen versus Jason Maas.

Michael Bishop vs. Timmy Chang.

Kerry Joseph vs. Casey Printers.

Cody Pickett vs. Kevin Glenn.

And, on Monday afternoon at Ivor Wynne Stadium, when the Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats meet in the 44th Labour Day Classic against each other, Cleo Lemon vs. Glenn.

No wonder the Argos and Tiger-Cats have had their troubles in recent years. The list of quarterbacks you’ve just read (Argos on the left, Ticats on the right), were the starters in the past four Labour Day Classics between the clubs in Steeltown.

If being successful in pro sports comes partly from consistency, the list of different names hints at why the Argos and Ticats mostly have been miserable (and no disrespect to Allen, a Canadian Football League legend).

By comparison, in each of the past five Labour Day tilts between the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders, Ricky Ray and Henry Burris have been the respective starters. That won’t change on Monday when those teams meet in the second half of the holiday doubleheader.

In Lemon and Glenn, who becomes the first quarterback on either side since Allen in 2005 and ’06 to make consecutive starts in the Labour Day Classic, the Argos and Tiger-Cats figure they have their quarterbacks not only for today but for tomorrow and some years to follow.

“It’s important to have that kind of stability and, having coached quarterbacks for most of my career, I think you have to have patience with them,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said during a news conference within the cinderblock walls at Ivor Wynne on Sunday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, that does not happen enough. (Lemon) has kept his job because he has done the things that we have asked him to do. He has not kept his job for any other reason than that.”

Ticats head coach Marcel Bellefeuille, sitting in the same chair occupied by Barker but approximately an hour earlier, isn’t getting to know Glenn this season the way Barker is with Lemon. Glenn has erased any talk of a quarterback controversy, one that popped up at times in 2009 in Hamilton as Quinton Porter nipped at Glenn’s heels.

“I think it has been important to us, just stability in our roster, not just our quarterback position,” Bellefeuille said. “Last year, we started strong, 4-2, we were on a good roll, but (the quarterback question) was always kind of looming there a little bit.

“I feel like this year, at this point, we are in a much better position than we were last year at this point, although our win total is probably the same, just in terms of where we are in the locker room, because we have consistency in our lineup.”

As Lemon struggled earlier in the season, a coach with a shorter attention span might have tabbed Dalton Bell to start.

A process

“Coach Barker did a great job of making it a process so I have learned the (CFL) game one step at a time,” Lemon said. “By the time we were in training camp, I felt comfortable with the system. I did not have it down by any means, but I felt like I had the foundation to rely on.”

Bellefeuille’s Tiger-Cats will be trying to extend a three-game winning streak, one that includes a win against Toronto at the Rogers Centre on Aug. 20.

The Argos, now that the schedule is about to unveil its second half, want to ensure that their initial five wins in eight games weren’t based on luck more than anything else.

“The games take on more meaning,” Barker said. “This is the fun time, the run for the playoffs … now it is time to make a statement. We’re not going to surprise anybody anymore. We’re a team that has won five games and people are not going to take us lightly, and we understand that.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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