Here are few things worth knowing ahead of Monday’s Labour Day Classic:
• The Ticats will be without starting right guard Ryan Bomben, who suffered an ankle injury against Montreal. Veteran Tim O’Neill will start in his place with Landon Rice serving as the sixth offensive lineman in case of injury.
I’ve already reported on most of the other injuries: defensive backs Johnny Sears and Mike Daly, defensive end Eric Norwood, punter Hugh O’Neill and Canadian special teamer Byron Archambault are all out. Ed Gainey plays the boundary corner for Sears, Craig Butler returns to his starting spot at safety for Daly, Adrian Tracy is in for Norwood, Justin Medlock goes back to handling all the kicking duties ad Ron Omara and Robin Medeiros come on to fill the Canadian roster spots.
• Medeiros is a local kid who attended St. Jean de Brébeuf and has bounced around the league a little but trying to get a shot. Now he’ll play in his first ever CFL regular season game on Labour Day against the Argos in his hometown.
Medeiros says he’ll be thinking about his grandfather, who took him to his first Ticats’ game when he was a kid – and many more after that – but never got to see him play pro ball.
At 6-feet, 190 pounds, Medeiros will contribute exclusively on special teams.
• While the Ticats are dealing with a number of injuries, the Argos are getting healthy. Slotback Chad Owens, running back Brandon Whitaker and quarterback Ricky Ray have all been added to the roster (though Ray is listed as the No.3 man and won’t play.) To make room, Toronto released quarterback Mitchell Gale earlier this week. Gale is friends with Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros from their time together in Toronto and Collaros reached out to Gale this week.
“I think he’s going to be wearing a Hamilton jersey in the stands somewhere,” Collaros joked.
• the Ticats have officially designated Sec. 103 as the honourary Box J. The team’s unofficial fan club, the Box J Boys, resides in that section as there is no longer an official Box J in the new stadium.
• Former Hamilton Tiger-Cat defensive back Delvin Breaux has made the 53-man active roster with the New Orleans Saints and looks likely to start against the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday. Breaux’s story is a fantastic one and I’m happy to see him enjoy continued success.
Toronto Argonauts (6-3) Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-3)
Tim Hortons Field
Monday, Sept. 7
Game time: 1 p.m. EST
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150
The storyline for Toronto: The Argos have been something of surprise this season, given that they’ve been without injured quarterback Ricky Ray all year: Trevor Harris has played extremely well in Ray’s absence. The Double Blue defence remains a question mark, however: they are sixth in the CFL in points allowed at 27.2 per game and have the league’s worst passing defence.
Five funky Toronto stats:
• quarterback Trevor Harris leads the CFL with 19 touchdown passes, a 112.7 quarterback rating and a 74.4 per cent completion rate.
• this will be the first time since 1989 that first place will be on the line in the Labour Day Classic between Toronto and Hamilton.
• the Argos have a 5-4-1 advantage in the last 10 Labour Day Classics. Hamilton leads the series with a 30-13-1 record.
• the Argos are 3-0 in games decided by four points or less this season and have a league-leading six come-from-behind wins.
• Toronto is last in the league in rushing attempts (135) and rushing yards per game (69.2.)
The storyline for Hamilton: The Ticats saw their five-game winning streak and undefeated record at Tim Hortons Field turned to dust by the Alouettes last Thursday – not to mention suffering a slew of injuries. Still, the Ticats can take over sole possession of first place in the East Division with a win and take the season series from Toronto with a win.
Five funky Hamilton stats:
.• the Ticats are currently listed as the Grey Cup favourite with 5-to-2 odds, according to online gambling site Bodog.ca. The Calgary Stampeders are next at 13-to-4. Toronto is fourth at 11-to-2. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are last at 50-to-1.
• quarterback Zach Collaros is also the favourite to win the 2015 CFL Most Outstanding Player award at 7-to-4.
• head coach Kent Austin holds a 5-3 advantage, including a win in the 2013 East Final, over the Argos’ Scott Milanovich.
• the Ticats are last in the CFL in average kickoff return yards with 17.0.
• the Hamilton offensive line leads the league in procedure calls with 17.
TSN play-by-play: Rod Black and Duane Forde with Matt Scianitti.
Referee: Dave Foxcroft
The weather forecast: Sunny, 30 degrees with a feels-like temperature of 37. Winds out of the southwest at 20 km/h