The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will host the Toronto Argonauts in the 47th edition of the Labour Day Classic. Here’s what you need to know.
Toronto Argonauts (4-3) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-8)
Tim Hortons Field
Mon., Sept. 4
Game time: 6:30 p.m.
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150
The storyline for Hamilton: Where to begin? The Ticats are coming off a hellacious week in which the team tried to hire disgraced former Baylor coach Art Briles as an offensive assistant only to rescind the offer after a withering backlash and were linked to former NFL quarterback (and perennial problem child) Johnny Manziel.
They’ve changed their current quarterback, electing to start Jeremiah Masoli over Zach Collaros, then dealt with trade rumours involving Collaros.
They have a new head coach in June Jones who is trying to install a new offensive system mid-season.
They are 0-8 and need a win against Toronto to have any hope whatever of catching the Argos (who take the season series with a victory) and making the post-season.
Key injuries and roster changes: Receiver Ricky Collins Jr., defensive backs Cariel Brooks and Osagie Odiase, linebacker Curtis Newton and offensive lineman Braden Schram have been added to the active roster while defensive end John Chick (traded to Edmonton), defensive backs Craig Butler (retired) and Don Unamba (injured), linebacker Kavell Conner (practice roster) and receiver Damarr Aultman (practice roster) have been removed.
Masoli is the big change. He’s in his fifth season with Hamilton and has made nine regular season starts over that span with a 4-5 record. He has completed 65 per cent of the passes in his career while throwing 16 touchdowns against 18 interceptions. The 29-year-old can also run a little bit with 387 yards on 89 carries.
Sixteen Labour Day stats:
1. Since 2005, the Ticats have used eight different starting quarterbacks in the Labour Day Classic: Danny McManus, Jason Maas, Timmy Chang, Casey Printers, Kevin Glenn, Henry Burris, Zach Collaros and Jeremiah Masoli. The Argonauts, meanwhile, have used seven.
2. Hamilton leads the all-time Labour Day series 32-13-1, including a 49-36 win last year and four of the last five.
3. Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray is all-time passing leader in the CFL’s Labour Day games (3,255 yards), which include Hamilton vs. Toronto, Calgary vs. Edmonton and Saskatchewan vs. Winnipeg. Former Ticat great Danny McManus is second with 2,756 yards.
4. In the 24 Labour Day games against Toronto since 1991, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have come in to the contest with two wins or less 10 times.
5. The most total points scored in a Labour Day game is 88, which came when the Ticats beat the Argos 56-22 in 1988.
6. June Jones makes his CFL debut as a head coach and this will be the first in-season coaching change for Hamilton since 2008 when Marcel Bellefeuille took over for Charlie Taaffe after a 2-8 start. Bellefeuille finished that season 1-7 and the club 3-15 overall in 2008. . Since 1950, the Tiger-Cats have now made 9 in-season head coaching changes. Only BC with 11 coaching changes in-season has made more.
7. Ricky Ray will be making his 210th career start (107-101-1) and 29th against Hamilton (18-10). For Toronto his record is 28-33 in 61 career starts. Ray is one of only three Argo quarterbacks to start more than 50 games for them as Toronto has used 86 different starting Quarterbacks since 1950, more than any other CFL team. (Hamilton has used 72 by comparison).
8. The Ticats come into this week having played only eight games in the first 74 days of the 2017 schedule – once every 9.25 days. By comparison, Ottawa has already logged 11 games in the first 71 days of the schedule, once every 6.45 days.
9. Hamilton is last in the CFL in both points for and allowed and an average margin of defeat (scoring differential) of minus-20.3 points. Only the 1959 Saskatchewan Roughriders at minus-22.2 has ever finished with a worse scoring differential for a season.
10. The Tiger-Cats have lost their last eight home games at Tim Hortons Field and that is their longest home losing skid since dropping nine in a row across 2002-03.
11. Toronto receiver S.J. Green requires 101 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, the earliest in a year that he would ever have reached that mark (11th game). He got to 1,000 in the first 12 games of 2012. To date, S.J. has 7,525 career receiving yards good for No. 46 all-time and and 112 yards behind Terrence Edwards at No. 45 (7,637).
12. Luke Tasker has been Hamilton’s leading receiver in five of last six games. Since being shut out on July 8 against Saskatchewan, Tasker has 38 receptions for 362 yards and two TDs.
13. Ticat receiver Jalen Saunders started off hot with 225 yards in his first two games but has just 19 catches for 206 yards in his last five contests.
14. Hamilton linebacker Larry Dean recorded a career-high 10 tackles in Hamilton’s last game and ranks No. 10 in the CFL with 42 in just eight games.
15. Argos defensive end Shawn Lemon leads the Argos with 16 quarterback pressures. He also has six sacks this season giving him 48 for his career, tied for 50th in CFL history.
16. Ticat defensive back Richard Leonard has eight pass knockdowns to lead the CFL and has at least one in his last five games.
The storyline for Toronto: The Argonauts are 4-6 and currently in second place in the East Division but can vault over the Redblacks into the first with a win over Hamilton. A victory would also give Toronto the season series over Hamilton — they also defeated the Ticats 32-15 in week one — giving them the tiebreaker in the unlikely event the two teams were tied at the end of the regular season. The Argonauts lost 23-7 in Calgary last week and failed to reach the end zone.
Toronto line up changes: Defensive lineman Ken Bishop and offensive lineman Brandon Washington have been added to the active roster while defensive lineman Jeff Finley (six game) and defensive back Qudarius Ford are off.
The Argos’ defence is ranked second in the CFL in points allowed 22.6 per game.
TSN play-by-play: Rod Black and Duane Forde
Other things to know about Labour Day: The Ticats are running Football Day in Hamilton for Labour Day and there are a number of events including a Hamilton Hurricanes game at noon (free admission), a concert in the South Plaza (also free) featuring six acts including the James Barker Band.
Fans are also asked to bring non-perishable food items or a cash donation in support of Purolator Tackle Hunger, the leaguewide program in support of local food banks.
Hamilton donated the most food last year and donations will benefit Hamilton Food Share. There’s a pre-game gathering at The Stipley in the south end zone at 2:30 p.m. and there will be a flyover featuring a Bell CH-146 Griffon helicopter, a Douglas DC-3 and a Consolidated PBY-5A during the anthem.