HAMILTON — The Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats will add another chapter in their historic Labour Day Classic rivalry when they close out Labour Day Weekend in Canada on Monday.
If this year’s game is anything like the 2016 version, CFL fans are certainly in for a treat.
Last year, the Ticats battled back from a 13-point half-time deficit, outscoring the Argos 32-6 in the final 30 minutes to defeat Toronto 49-36.
The Argos are looking for their first Labour Day Classic win since 2012.
The Argonauts couldn’t hold off the surging Stampeders in Week 10, falling 23-7 to the top team in the league. Toronto kept pace through the first two quarters, heading into halftime trailing only 9-7. But Marc Trestman’s revamped offense was held off the scoreboard in the final 30 minutes. Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray was held to only 220 yards and no touchdowns.
The Argos’ only points were from an impressive 115-yard pick six by former Ticat Cassius Vaughn.
“There are no moral victories, but I thought our defense really, really played an excellent football game,” Trestman told Argonauts.ca after the loss. “Other than a couple of pre-snap penalties, I thought they played extremely hard with a huge sense of urgency throughout the game… Anytime you can hold a team to 21, 22, 23 points, that really says something about the way you’re playing defense.”
Toronto’s defense has been one of the best in the league heading into Week 11. That unit ranks second in total yards given up per game (347.1) and passing yards allowed per game (250) through the first half of the season.
Plenty of urgency is riding on Monday’s game for the Argos, who are 4-1 against their division this season. They’ve still got Hamilton twice more and sweeping the season series with the Tabbies could be key to taking the East Division, which has a new leader in the Ottawa REDBLACKS following their win on Thursday night.
The rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats don’t plan on making a Labour Day win easy at Tim Hortons Field.
The Black and Gold used their bye week to make a number of changes on and off the field.
The Ticats have tabbed Jeremiah Masoli to start on Monday in favour of Zach Collaros. It is the first time since Collaros arrived in Hamilton from Toronto in 2014 that he will play a backup role. The 29-year-old has lost 12 straight as a starter, just one game short of a CFL record.
The start marks Masoli’s first ever on Labour Day.
Monday will also mark June Jones’ first game as a CFL head coach. Vice President of Football Operations Kent Austin stepped down as the Ticats bench boss last week, promoting Jones from assistant head coach. The 64-year-old has head coaching experience in the NCAA and NFL.
Jones says that his offense will have to step up if the Ticats want to secure their first win of 2017 on Labour Day.
“I think our defense has played well enough to win the last two weeks,” Jones told Ticats.ca. “I thought if we were really productive offensively we had a chance to win both of those games. We’ll see what happens. The kids have a lot of pride… I think the scheme is something they have confidence in and we’ll get going.”
The Tiger-Cats last played on Aug. 18, falling to the Ottawa REDBLACKS 37-18.
By The Numbers
8 – League-leading pass knockdowns for Ticats defensive back Richard Leonard. He has at least one in his last five games.
20.3 – Average margin of defeat for the Ticats this year. Only Saskatchewan in 1959 has ever finished with a scoring differential for a season worse than the Ticats this year (22.2).
210 – Career starts for Ricky Ray including Monday’s Labour Day Classic.
The clock is ticking on the Ticats to salvage their so-far winless season. Hamilton has a history of success on Labour Day, and a victory against their bitter rivals could be the confidence boost the team needs to get back on track.
The Ticats have an overall record of 32-13-1 in Labour Day matchups against the Argos and have won the last three straight. Ricky Ray is 1-2 in Labour Day game against Hamilton.
While history is on the Ticats’ side, the more recent past is not in their favor.
Hamilton established Tim Hortons Field as one of the toughest stadiums for opposing teams to play in when it was built three years ago. The inaugural game was Labour Day of 2014. Hamilton won their first 10 games in front of a hometown crowd. There first loss at the new field was not until Aug. 27, 2015.
Flash forward to now and the Ticats have dropped their last eight games on home turf, a losing skid that has carried over from last season.
On the other hand, the Toronto Argonauts have never won a regular season game at the Ticats’ new home.
– With files from Argonauts.com/Ticats.ca
AFI, Yare Media and the CFL
American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2017 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.
If you can’t watch it live, each game is available for viewing through the remainder of the season.