The Toronto Argonauts are looking forward to their Labour day clash with the first-place Tiger-Cats, and avenge their early season defeat.
No matter the record, the Labour day classic is always special, and this year is no exception.
If anything, this Monday’s clash between the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats means even more to the boys in blue.
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The last time out against their short-distance rivals was a long and painful ordeal for the Argos, a 64-14 loss that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Armanti Edwards said post-game that it was the worst loss he had ever taken in his entire football life, at any level.
Head coach Corey Chamblin preached the importance of putting a full 60-minute effort together on three sides of the ball – a line that would become a common refrain for him as the losing streak continued.
In many ways, it was a harbinger of things to come for Toronto. But ten weeks and eight games later, the Argos are not shying away from their match up with the first-place team in the East.
"“Hamilton are a well-oiled machine, have been since week one. ” Alden Darby said at practice this week. “ But come Monday, it’s the labour day classic. I love the atmosphere, I love the crowd. We’re ready to go into it. I’m excited. “"
That positivity was echoed by his quarterback.
"“ I always love playing Hamilton.“ Mcleod Bethel-Thompson said. “ They got a good team, good fans, I’m always excited to get out there and play them.“"
Most of the time, the Argos tried to downplay the amount the fifty-point loss has stuck in their minds, but there were a few moments it clearly shined through in the practice scrums.
"“ We need to limit our mistakes as best as possible, and get the win.“ Armanti Edwards said."
When asked if there was anyone out there specifically he wanted to get back at for the first game debacle?
“Everyone in black and gold.”
Coach Chamblin agreed, offering his own take on the situation.
"“ It is just another game in a sense, but pride always kicks in.“ Chamblin said. “Guys have to know that was one of the worst [losses], and regardless of what your record is no one is going to roll over or pat you on the back. We need to match their intensity and get better.”"
On top of the natural rivalry that occurs each labour day, there is also the daunting season implications for the Argos. At 1-8, with a competitive west team primed for the cross-over, Toronto is starting to feel like it may need to win out if it has any hope of playing in the playoffs.
"“Not to be cliché, but we need straight wins. “ Bethel-Thompson said. “I believe we can flip the script, and having the same amount of wins on the backside as losses on the front, and run the table… so if we can start the second half with a win it would be a big bonus for us.”"
While talk of running the table shows the players themselves haven’t given up on November, most Argos fans would settle for a win, and for any sign that the team is on the right track.
The 2017 Argos are the prime example of the old CFL adage that the season doesn’t start until after Labour Day, when a 4-7 team got hot down the stretch, and eventually won the Grey Cup.
This squad finds itself in a much deeper hole, with even bleaker possibilities, but the fact remains – start winning, and anything can happen.
But as this season has shown, that might be easier said than done for this football team.