Meaningful Argos-Ticats matchup

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:18 AM ET

TORONTO - Few people outside the Argonauts’ locker room, back in June, figured the Boatmen stood much of a chance of getting back to the Canadian Football League playoffs this fall.

Even fewer had an inkling that the Argos and their biggest rival, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, would have a mid-October clash at the Rogers Centre that will have significant ramifications on the standings.

After all, the task ahead of new head coach Jim Barker was large. The Argos had won seven games — total — the previous two seasons, there was no quarterback in camp with a stitch of CFL experience and other clubs in the East, mostly the Ticats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, were thought to stand a greater chance of earning a spot in the post-season. The Montreal Alouettes, the assumption was, would be off by themselves, and indeed that’s what has happened.

All tied up

But here are the Argos and Ticats, with four games remaining, tied in the East with records of 7-7. The winner on Friday won’t clinch second in the East, but will take a crucial step toward playing host to a playoff game.

“That’s the great thing about the CFL — things can turn around really quick,” said Argos special teams captain Bryan Crawford, who, along with his teammates, had Thanksgiving off.

“It’s a credit to the guys in the room who believed we could make this team this season whatever we wanted it to be, and it’s a credit to coach Barker and the rest of the staff, (general manager) Adam Rita in the front office for bringing in a lot of new guys — Cory Boyd, Jeremaine Copeland, Cleo Lemon — who have helped improve this team.”

Lemon, of course, has not been without his struggles, and the offence knows that as a whole, it must get into gear in the final four games. Where the Argos have been missing touchdowns from the offence, they have been getting them from special teams whiz Chad Owens, whose acquisition from the Alouettes in June has to be considered the steal of the season.

That the Argos have achieved a .500 record this late in the regular season in an unorthodox manner — they’ve allowed 80 more points than they have scored — isn’t debatable. They’ve had some luck, but this also is a team with a lot of guts.

“We understand that we are a young team that has to go through ups and downs,” Crawford said. “We have to keep with the process, keep building every week no matter what happens.”

With two losses in two games against the Tiger-Cats, the Argos can’t win the season series no matter what happens on Friday night. The Alouettes are six points up on both teams after their butt-kicking of the Calgary Stampeders on Monday afternoon and should secure the East Division title in the coming weeks.

The Argos/Ticats contest, in all likelihood, will be a preview of the division semi-final. Where that game will be played is what’s at stake in the closing weeks. Once they are done with each other, neither team has an easy walk to the playoffs. The Argos might have the least-challenging game when they visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but then have a home-and-home with the Alouettes. The Ticats play host to the Als, go to Calgary to face the Stamps and finish at Ivor Wynne against the B.C. Lions.

“It’s huge and Hamilton is the only team we have not beaten yet,” Argos slotback Copeland said. “It’s a chance to start pulling away and it should be exciting.”


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