Monday, August 21, 2006
A little over two weeks ago, in Montreal, the Alouettes laid an awful drubbing on the Toronto Argonauts 31-7. The Argos were riddled with injuries, and played the entire game without their Number One pivot Damon Allen. They weren’t even able to scrimmage the ball once in the Alouette end of the field. Their only touchdown came on an 84 yard interception.
The return engagement took place last Saturday night in Toronto at the Rogers Centre. Turnabout being fair play, the Argos steamed over the Alouettes 31-6, with little difficulty.
Before the game, the hoard from the Quinte area, representing Belleville Minor Football, took in the pregame festivities. A band called “Kevala” rocked outside Gate 5. There was a steel drummer, Peruvian flutes and even bagpipes.
There are tailgate-type activities for all interests, including a mini poker tournament!
Many of us spent almost an hour in the Rogers, at our seats before game time, watching the warm-ups. Damon Allen and Spurgeon Wynn stood at their own 45 yard line and threw slants and deep patterns to backs and receivers, while Michael Bishop threw to them from the goal line----sending them back to centre field.
The entire team jogged back and forth across the field for five minutes, in a rather spectacular fashion. Plenty of high fives, jump bumps, stretching, and idle chatter. Both teams cleared the field half an hour before the kickoff to prepare for battle.
The Argos were introduced individually, through a phalanx of players and the Blue Thunder cheerleaders. Each player was also greeted with a pyrotechnics display. Unfortunately, the smoke from the rockets hung around the closed dome until midway through the second quarter. (I was later informed that it also hampered television coverage.)
In many ways, the game was a tribute to Damon Allen, and rightly so. He has taken snaps in the CFL for 22 years, and needed a handful of yards to go over the 70 000 yard milestone. Late in the third quarter he hit Keith Stokes on a 37 yard pass to reach the magic number. He will surpass the professional football record set by Warren Moon of 70 553 yards later this year. Moon compiled his numbers in the CFL and the NFL, and was rewarded this year by being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
After the game, a weary Allen commented; “I am proud to be able to play this many years. I’m just glad we won.” With a little smile he added: “I always feel records will be broken if you play long enough.”
On the other side of the field, the Alouettes struggled from the getgo. Coach Matthews elected to give up four points on safeties in the first quarter, and the Argos added a field goal to stretch the lead to seven points.
With two minutes and change remaining in the second quarter, Calvillo spotted Ben Cahoun wide open in the Argos end zone. The completion would have tied the game, the teams likely going into the dressing rooms all even at half time. The ball was overthrown by ten yards, and the Alouettes settled for a field goal.
With less than a minute remaining in the half, Calvillo missed his target again. Byron Parker snatched the errant throw, and returned the interception 79 yards for a TD.
Calvillo struggled to explain his ineptitude following his worst game ever in the CFL. “The ball came off funny a couple of times…but I thought I was throwing good. My vision wasn’t the same.” After five interceptions and several horrible passes, most pundits would agree with his observation.
The Als end up on the short end of the stick for the second week in a row, but still remain atop the Eastern Conference with a 7-2 record.
The Argos travel to Winnipeg this week to face the Blue Bombers in the Friday night game, then return to Hamilton for the annual Labour Day game. Their next home game is Saturday, September 9th, when the Tiger Cats roll back into Hogtown.
I spoke briefly with the two Queen’s graduates on the Argo roster following the game. Jon Landon is in his third season with the double blue. An Amherstview native, he also suited up for the Ernestown Jets in his youth! Bryan Crawford is in his second year with the Argos. His fiancée is also a Queen’s graduate, and we discovered that he is engaged to be married because they posted that notice on the JumboTron. (A little embarrassing!)
A fine crowd of more than 30 000 was on hand for the game, but there will be many excellent seats available for the remaining Argo games. Call 416-341 ARGO (2746) or go to Argonauts.ca to get your tickets.