LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL Season Opener – Hamilton Tiger-Cats v. Toronto Argonauts, June 25 @ 4p EDT (10p CEST)

When the Hamilton Tiger Cats take the field to face the Toronto Argonauts Sunday at BMO Field in Toronto to open their respective Canadian Football League seasons, the crowd will be expecting fireworks.

The last time these two quarterbacks, Zach Collaros of the Ticats and Toronto’s Ricky Ray, faced each other, the teams combined for 85 points in a Hamilton Labour Day win in 2016.

Both teams are looking to start the year off on the right foot after making their exits much earlier than planned in 2016. The Ticats fell in the Eastern Semi-Final while the Argos failed to secure a playoff spot following a disappointing last-place finish.

Ticats’ head coach Kent Austin says he is looking forward to what 2017 will bring:

“It’s always exciting when the season starts because you have anticipation to see how your guys are going to play,” Austin told “(It’s) the excitement of competition and winning football games and going through the journey of a football season and trying to get to the ultimate goal… It’s a lot better than sitting in the office during the off-season, that’s for sure.”

A healthy Zach Collaros will be a key part of a successful Ticats season. The University of Cincinnati product spent half of last year on the sidelines with a torn ACL he suffered during the 2015 season. Completely healed and with a full training camp under his belt, the five-year pro will be expected to lead the charge in Hamilton.

Hamilton SB Luke Tasker in action against Montreal

The Ticats also boast a top receiving corps with the ability to move the sticks and steal games. Fans got a brief glimpse of receiver Brian Tyms’ skill set in his two games with the Hamilton last season. He posted a team-high 114 yards on eight catches in the Eastern Semi-Final. Tyms’ CFL sample size may be small, but he has already showcased that he is capable of being a difference maker on the field.

Hamilton will be without two crucial members of its defence entering Week 1. The Ticats bolstered their secondary during the-off season by re-signing sought after free agent Emanuel Davis while also penning a deal with halfback Abdul Kanneh. The former REDBLACK helped lead Ottawa to a Grey Cup Championship last year and has been named an East Division All-Star the past two seasons. But both are currently on the inured list, leaving a void the rest of the secondary must fill in the season opener.

For a tattered secondary with a new defensive coordinator following the departure of Orlondo Steinauer, who took a job with college football’s Fresno State, an early-season meeting with a Marc Trestman-coached team will be a challenge.

Perhaps no team in the CFL has gone through more off-season changes than the Toronto Argonauts.

It began in the front office with Jim Popp taking over as the general manager after two decades in Montreal. And Popp brought a friend in former Alouettes Grey Cup-winning coach Trestman, who will lead the charge on the sidelines after Scott Milanovich moved on to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars as quarterback coach.

Trestman spoke with

“[Sunday] is really the starting point. [Sunday’s] the test. It’s the first test to finding out about where we are as an offence and certainly as a football team… We’re playing against two of the more dynamic defensive ends in the league, certainly, and a defence that is going to bring it from different places, from different structures. We’re going to get tested physically and mentally up front in our protections and in our run game.”

The multitude of changes also continues on the field with an offense that looks next to completely different than it did a year ago after Toronto released four receivers last October.

James Wilder Jr. (32) during the game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, Friday, June 16, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Veteran S.J. Green leads Toronto’s new look receiving core after he was sidelined most of last season with knee ligament damage. The 32-year-old spent a decade in Montreal before being acquired by the Argos in an trade two months ago.

The Double Blue also picked up Armanti Edwards via trade from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and signed free agent Jeff Fuller.

The Argos’ offense will once again be led by veteran quarterback Ricky Ray. The 37-year-old and future hall of famer is entering his 14th CFL season and ranks fourth all-time in passing yards.

Despite the numerous new faces in the front office, coaching staff, and offence, some of the most impactful off-season additions could be on the defensive side of the ball.

The Alouettes sent shock waves throughout the league when they released all-star linebacker Bear Woods. The reigning 2016 East Division’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player did not remain a free agent for long and was eagerly scooped up by the Argos just over a week later.

Woods may be the missing piece for an Argo defense that’s also added Cleyon Laing and Marcus Ball to complement second-leading sack getter in 2016 Shawn Lemon. Not to mention the hiring of 2013 Grey Cup-winning coach Corey Chamblin, who returns to the CFL for the first time since mid-2015 to coach the Argos’ defense.

Also of note, three former Ticats will start on Toronto’s defense on Sunday, as Rico Murray, Cassius Vaughn and Johnny Sears Jr. have switched sides in the rivalry.

While the Ticats have dominated the Southern Ontario rivalry of late, two proven winners in Chamblin and Trestman look to turn the tides.

The Toronto Argonaut and Hamitlon Tiger-Cats rivalry begins anew Sunday.


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