Argos get their mean on

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:55 PM ET

TORONTO - Boys will be boys. And, so it is that things got a little heated in the Argonauts’ sandbox Thursday.

Evidently they intend to arrive in Montreal for Sunday’s East Division final in ill humour. But until then, they’ll just take it out on each other.

Early in the club’s second day of indoor practice at the Hershey Centre, Ben Ishola and Adriano Belli exchanged unpleasantries during a drill. It wasn’t exactly as if a hockey game was going to break out but teammates did step in to remind them they were wearing the same sweater.

That was just the tune-up for the main event.

“Maybe it’s the heat. It’s good,” defensive end Rick Foley said of a noisy, feisty practice that saw defensive tackle Matthias Askew get into a fracas with offensive lineman Cedric Gagne Marcoux.

“We were wearing pads yesterday. We were in pads today and you smash and you’re going full out. Things kind of carried over from yesterday. Guys got a little more hate on but it’s good to have a bit of an edge.” Foley said.

Marcoux and Askew were also quickly separated — it was over before some observers even noticed — and head coach Jim Barker laughed it off.

“It was a good practice. They’re very focused and intense on what they’re doing ... guys are flying around. I like that.”

Asked who was involved Barker grinned: “Askew and Gagne Marcoux.” Grinning wider, he said, “It’s always Gagne Marcoux and whomever.”

If they’re this nasty with the guys on their own side, things could get a tad testy in the Big O where Foley finds himself for the second consecutive year under eerily similar circumstances.

The Argos upset Hamilton in the East semi after three regular-season losses to book their ticket to Montreal. Last year, when Foley was with the B.C. Lions, they lost twice to Hamilton during the season then upset the Ticats in the Eastern final cross-over game.

But Foley is hoping this is where history stops repeating itself.

The Alouettes stuffed the Lions 56-18 before a near-sellout 53,792 roaring fans.

“There’s been a change in mentality,” Foley said. “Last week I was telling the guys, ‘OK I was there last year, same circumstances and we beat (Hamilton). Great.’

“Well, this week I’m not telling them the same story. We went in there and got killed. Last week, it was about what to do to beat (Hamilton). This week its about what not to do and how not to lose (to Montreal).”

To that end practicing indoors can’t hurt.

Last year playing at Olympic Stadium left the Lions panting.

“You’re used to the cold weather and everyone is used to practicing outside. Your body gets used to the cold. Cold. Cold. All of a sudden you walk in there on Sunday and I think it affects teams. We were outside the whole year in B.C. and we went there and it was like “Man! It felt really steamy.”

Steam baths are useful. Just not when you’re trying to play football. It was over almost before they could wipe the perspiration from their eyes. Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo equalled a league playoff record with five touchdown passes.

The Argonauts cannot afford a similar slow start said Foley.

“We can’t let them get up on us early. That’s pretty much the key to the game,” he said. “If we get down a couple touchdowns it’s going to be tough for us to beat them. Their defence would just be able to start putting pressure knowing that we have to throw.”

That’s what happened to the Lions as the Alouettes defence held B.C.’s running attack to 12 total yards.

So, it will be vital for Toronto to establish a running game with Cory Boyd and, said Foley, be mentally prepared for Olympic-sized headaches.

“The game isn’t always going to go the way you want. The Xs and Os aren’t always going to turn out the way you want,” Foley said. “So it’s sort of like let’s expect to have success but what if we get behind the eight-ball a bit. That might be the biggest thing we have to prepare for right now. The crowd is going to be crazy. I feel bad for the offensive line and Cleo (Lemon) because they’ll have to deal with that. We have to be able to handle that mentally.”

If they don’t the Alouettes will cruise into the Grey Cup game for the eighth time since 2000.


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