Boyd is Argos' X factor

Toronto Argonauts' Cory Boyd dives with the ball against the Hamilton Tiger Cats. (Mark O'Neill/QMI...

Toronto Argonauts' Cory Boyd dives with the ball against the Hamilton Tiger Cats. (Mark O'Neill/QMI AGENCY)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

If the Als decide to sit back on defence and force Cleo Lemon to beat them with his arm, a game plan has been put in place to attack.

If the Als decide to blitz and send football’s proverbial house, there’s a strategy designed to gain yards.

Whatever the circumstance, regardless of down and distance, every conceivable angle, every possible counter have been taken into account.

It’s the ultimate chess game, a game Cory Boyd is looking forward as he gets set to play in his first Eastern final.

Not since his youth playing Pop Warner has Boyd come this close to playing in a championship game.

“I think I was nine or 10 when I last won a championship and back then I was a throw-in player, one of those guys who got to see the field at the end of games to make me feel good,’’ Boyd recalled on Friday. “Back then, obviously, you understand the true significance of a championship.

“This is really the first year where I’ve contributed to a championship-calibre team.”

Boyd is by no means looking past the Als. He is so focused that he doesn’t look beyond the next snap.

In many ways, Sunday represents a championship setting for the Argos, a team written off heading into last week’s semi in Hamilton, a team that is peaking at the right time and one hardly intimidated by the Montreal mystique or the spectre of having to deal with a boisterous Olympic Stadium crowd.

The Argos get a little annoyed when the myriad of excuses is pointed out that led to their 16-13 upset of the Ticats.

They get more than annoyed when many dismiss Lemon, describing a playoff win as a triumph produced in spite of a quarterback.

The fact remains, though, that at least two of Hamilton’s five turnovers — miscues that led to 13 of Toronto’s points — came as a result of two botched punt returns by rookie Marcus Thigpen, who basically took his eyes off the ball.

The Als have too much of a championship pedigree to beat themselves, which is basically what the Ticats managed to accomplish.

Sunday marks a step up in what awaits the Argos, an opportunity to elevate their game, because anything short won’t suffice.

The game also marks the sixth time the Argos and Als will meet this season, but at no time have the stakes been this high.

No one, at least not publicly, knows what kind of offensive game plan the Argos will throw at Montreal, but it goes without saying that Boyd will be featured in some shape or form.

Whether he’s the workhorse that was showcased last week, a decoy, an extra blocker to give Lemon additional time to look downfield, a lot more will be known on Sunday.

The goal in Hamilton last week was to outphysical the Ticats’ front seven, which Boyd believes is much more athletic than Montreal’s unit.

“Montreal is sound,’’ he said. “That front seven is very disciplined and they know how to cover up their holes. They know where they’re supposed to be.

“If you knock the will out of them, they’re a different team. It’s a confidence thing because they have a certain swagger about them. If they’re up and doing well, they can talk you out of a game and outplay you. But if you match them, match their intensity and discipline and do the right things like they do, then you can outplay them.

“We match up against them.”

Boyd accounted for 132 yards from scrimmage in Hamilton, a total that represented close to 50% of the Argos’ offence.

In a defining late-game drive that began at Toronto’s three yard line, Boyd rushed for 36 yards and three times rushed for first downs to move the chains.

One gets the feeling the Argos are going to have to make more than a few plays through the air to get to the Grey Cup, but if Boyd is asked to shoulder the burden so be it.

One thing is certain: He can take the pounding.

Equally certain is that Boyd dishes as much punishment as he takes.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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