The real start of the CFL season

Ti-cat sandwich

It’s the last weekend of the summer. You have two choices: sit on your deck and soak in some sun, or watch football. Either way’s good, but odds are if you’re reading this, it’s because you partake in the latter ritual.

And for that I salute you.

To me, the Labour Day Classic is right up there with the Grey Cup and the start of the NHL season as one of the dates that defines the Canadian sporting schedule. As the league likes to say: “Watch the team you love play the team you hate”. But there’s much more to today’s game.

Toronto is a league-worst 2-6, but they stand only two games behind second place Hamilton. Do the math: If the Argos can take both the Classic and Friday’s rematch, they’ll do no worse than a three way tie for second in the East (along with Winnipeg if the Bombers win next Sunday’s Banjo Bowl). The Argos have won the last three Labour Day meetings, and dominated the season-opener at Ivor Wynne 30-17.

It also marks the first time that the Argos will face former teammate Arland Bruce. He was traded to the Ti-cats on July 29th and left on sour terms. He’s cited miscommunication between him and the coaching staff, leading to him being suspended for a game earlier this season. You can bet that there were no such problems this week between head coach Bart Andrus and his defensive backs in preparing for this game. They’ll be trying to aggressively seperate Bruce from the ball, to put it mildly.

The game is also a chance for Hamilton to prove their worth. They haven’t had a winning season since 2004, and at 4-4, they have a chance to put themselves in a position to get out of the red. Having already surpassed their win total from last season, some doubters believe that the clock will soon hit midnight.

I disagree. With Kevin Glenn having taken over as the starting quarterback, they have something they haven’t had since Danny McManus: a dependible pivot (yes, Casey Printers, that means you too). Marcel Bellefeuille has injected a positive vibe into the locker room, and it has the team and it’s starving fan base believing that the best is yet to come.

There have been more Vanier Cups than CFL playoff games at Ivor Wynne this decade. The Labour Day Classic will go a long way in determining if that will continue to hold true.

-Marc Tessier

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