Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Argos have a Ray of hope
With hot QB, a win in Montreal today not that big an upset
MONTREAL -- There always seemed to be something on the line when the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts met this season, and now they're locked in their biggest must-win game of the year.
The victor in the CFL East Division final at Olympic Stadium today earns a trip to the Grey Cup game.
"I don't get caught up with people talking about rivalries," Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo said Saturday. "It's going to be a tough game whether you like the other team or not."
The Alouettes won two of three meetings with Toronto this season to claim first place in the division, but that was before quarterback Ricky Ray and the Argonauts offence jelled for an impressive finish to the season.
Toronto won their first meeting of the year with Montreal 23-20 on July 27 with Ray behind centre, but he was hurt in the first quarter of their next match-up on Sept. 23, a 31-10 victory the Alouettes needed to avoid losing the season series to the Double Blue.
Jarious Jackson was in for the injured Ray as Montreal secured first place with a 24-12 win in Toronto on Oct. 14.
In three games since returning from injury, including a 42-26 victory over Ray's former team Edmonton in the East semifinal last Sunday, the veteran has completed 67 of 93 passes, a 72 per cent clip, for 922 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"Everyone's playing a lot better," said Ray, Toronto's prize pick-up in a trade last winter. "Offensively, guys are starting to understand what we're doing.
"This was all new for everybody. People understand their roles. Guys aren't thinking as much. We're just playing good football."
Ray has faced the Alouettes four times in the playoffs with Edmonton, winning Grey Cup games in 2003 and 2005, losing a Grey Cup at home soil 2002, and dropping a 36-26 decision in the East final at the Big O in 2008.
He knows it will be deafening in the domed stadium, where a crowd approaching 50,000 is expected.
"The biggest challenge for us is the crowd noise," Ray said. "We've just got to communicate really well. It's every road team's goal to get off to a good start and quiet the crowd."
These are teams that know one another better than most.
The Argos' first-year head coach Scott Milanovich was Montreal boss Marc Trestman's offensive co-ordinator last season. Defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones and offensive line coach Steve McAdoo also once coached in Montreal. Quarterbacks coach Jason Maas was once one of Calvillo's back-ups.
Among the Argonauts who once played for Montreal are star receiver and kick returner Chad Owens, safety Etienne Boulay and tackle Chris Van Zeyl.
"We had some success when I was with this (Montreal) organization, but our team is anxious and hungry to come out here and take that next step that we've been building toward all year," said Milanovich. "It's nice to be back, but it doesn't feel the same when you're on the other side."
Montreal has won six of 10 meetings with Toronto in division finals, including the last three.
The latest was in 2010, when the Alouettes crushed them 48-17.
Belli played for the Argos in that game. The Toronto native came out of retirement near the end of the season to help shore up the defensive line.
"My last professional game was here before I retired," he said. "I've got a sour taste in my mouth, losing against the Birds here.
"I can't wait to ruin their day."
For Milanovich, the key to victory is turnovers. The Argos led the CFL in give-away, take-away differential this season at plus-10, but Montreal was third at plus-7.
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 18, 2012 B4
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(1 of 5 articles for this week)07/24/2014 1:00 AM 0
A look at this week's CFL games.
Photo Store Gallery
- Blue Bombers prepare lineup for Friday match against BC Lions
- Bombers don't seem in much of a rush
- Blue Bombers name press box in honour of two prominent sports journalists
- At the door to a dream
- No Moore Mr. Nice Guy
- When it comes to Bombers' defence... Moe knows
- Seattle Seahawks WR Sidney Rice surprisingly announces retirement before start of camp
- Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen giving up control of team as he battles Alzheimer's disease
- Moore than a feeling
- Mike Reilly using legs to run Eskimos to 4-0 record, clash with 3-0 Stampeders
- Very rough night for Blue
- Moore than a feeling
- Blue feeling like bongo drums
- At the door to a dream
- Bombers dissect Thursday's drubbing by Eskimos
- Whipping exposes abundant flaws
- Blue review gaffe-filled game
- O-line a disaster area
- Lacklustre Blue didn't help their bottom line
- List of injured Bombers grows
- Banks asks to be released from Bombers
- Bombers trade for QB Portis
- Feoli-Gudino gets it done
- Bombers linebacker Korey Banks suspended
- Bombers gut out a comeback
- Bomber ticket sales shoot up after win over Argos
- Amazing 3-0 start for Blue
- Bombers release Ford
- Won hard and put away wet
- Slick Willy puts on a great show
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