Toronto Argonauts look to overcome Labour Day drought

MONTREAL, QC - AUGUST 1: Ricky Ray /

Despite the Hamilton Tiger-Cats struggling this season, the Toronto Argonauts know that Monday’s Labour Day game will not be a walk in the park.

Those who watch the CFL understand the significance of the Labour Day Classic, especially its role in shaping the rivalry between Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Monday’s contest at Tim Horton’s Field will be the 47th edition of the Labour Day Classic and for the Argos, a chance to get one over their QEW rivals. Hamilton has a 32-13-1 record including a 3-0 record since moving out of Ivor Wynne Stadium.

While the Tiger-Cats are without a win this season, the Argos know that they cannot take their rival for granted especially with this being a critical game in the standings.

“A rivalry can go either way whether  you are the best team or worst team in the league. That is the way we are going into it.” said running Brandon Whitaker who compares the atmosphere to a college rivalry game like Baylor versus Texas A&M.

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Head coach Marc Trestman echoed the same sentiment about not underestimating their opponent, saying that he does not have to explain the significance to his players.

“Our guys are very conscious of that and our focus has to be on ourselves,” said Trestman on the importance of this game. “We understand that every common opponent are guys just like us. They’re 0-0 in their minds just like we are in ours.”

For quarterback Ricky Ray he has been a part of the Labour Day Classic in both the East and West division. The

“It is a fun environment to play in. their fans are intense with the visiting team, so you have to be prepared to have some nasty things thrown your way” Ray said on how the environment is like for the visiting team. “If you play in the CFL, it is one of the funnest games to be a part of., I’ve been pretty lucky to experience both sides.”

The last time the Argos won against Hamilton in the Labour Day Classic was back in 2012, the year the team went on to win the Grey Cup. Ray was behind center for that game throwing for 375 yards, and a one touchdown. Chad Owens had 11 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown going for a combined 402 yards (136 kick return and 90 punt return yards).

Last year, Ray threw for 386 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as the Argos team struggled to hold a 30-17 halftime lead losing 46-36. That was also the game where Ray also suffered a fractured rib and a partially deflated lung.

This season has been much different for the Argos who can go one point up on the Ottawa Redblacks with a win over Hamilton. This is why Trestman does not play up the hype of the rivalry because for him this game has a lot of importance.

“I think every game is a rivalry against every team, if one game is a rivalry then what are the other game,” said Trestman about the significance of the crosstown rivalry.

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“It is the most important game that we have because it is the only one. Not to disrespect two teams that live and work right near each other. If we don’t look at it like that we disrespect seven other teams in the league.”