Givin’ it the gas
Argos merging into fast lane
Every game is treated the same, every opponent deserves respect, every blocking assignment can lead to a big play.
For Chris Van Zeyl, each time he gets to step on the field is a time worth savoring.
The Argos offensive lineman has been nursing a lower leg injury of late, but the classy veteran will be back this week protecting Ricky Ray’s front side.
As dominant as the West has been when playing its Eastern brethren, there have been moments of vulnerability, times when the inferior East has stepped up to knock off a more formidable foe.
No one gave the Ticats a chance to upset the host Blue Bombers last week, a team that had won five in a row at home. And yet Hamilton played one of its most complete games of the season in a one-sided win.
Ottawa was an underdog against the Lions the following night, especially with B.C. coming off a bye week, but fought back from a 19-point deficit.
Marc Trestman pointed to those two games as examples of what is possible when teams go out West and can summon their best in the game’s crucial moments.
“Ottawa goes into B.C. and finds a way to win,’’ said the head coach. “Hamilton goes into Winnipeg and finds a way to win.
“That’s the essence of what’s going on here. We played the West (Edmonton) a couple of weeks ago and found a way to win.
“And that’s what we’re trying to do. We did it in Montreal and we’ll try to do it here and that’s to keep going.”
With three games remaining in the regular season, Van Zeyl knows this is money time, when teams begin to peak as they make their push for the post-season.
“You’ve been cruising along in your car,’’ began Van Zeyl in painting a picture of this season and the point in time the Argos have reached. “You’ve had your foot on the gas, but you realize that there’s someone trying to come into your lane to take what’s yours. You have to either speed up or slam on the brakes.
“And I think this team is going to put their foot on the gas.”
The Argos and Redblacks
The Argos travel to Edmonton this Saturday.
The Eskimos came to BMO Field on Sept. 16 and were beaten by the Argos, the first time Toronto won a game when playing a Western opponent.
Edmonton is coming off a win over Montreal on Thanksgiving Monday when running back C.J. Gable made his debut in Green and Gold.
Gable had two TDs for Hamilton when the Argos won their first game at Tim Hortons Field two weeks ago. He then had two TDs for Edmonton in its comeback win over the free-falling Als.
For the second straight week, the top three teams in the East will be matched up against the West, beginning with Friday night’s visit to the Hammer by Calgary.
Later in the evening, the Redblacks play the host Riders.
Part of the West’s superiority over the East is based on quarterback play. Whether it’s performance-based or injury-related, the East has struggled. But Ticats’ Jeremiah Masoli and Trevor Harris of the Redblacks both received nods as CFL top performers of the week. have been neck-and-neck atop the East all season, the teams separated by one point heading into this weekend’s play.
Toronto has the tiebreaker and has one game in hand on Ottawa, which plays in Regina on Friday and closes out its regular season with a home game versus Hamilton on Oct. 27.
Following Saturday night’s game in Edmonton, the Argos return home to play host to Winnipeg, get a bye and then wrap up the regular season with an away game against the B.C. Lions.
The Argos haven’t won a playoff game since capturing the Grey Cup in 2012, the first year Van Zeyl experienced the presence of Ray.
That team finished the season at just 9-9.
“Different teams,’’ said Van Zeyl. “We had a good team then, but we didn’t know we were good. This team, I think, no matter what adversity has come our way, we’ve taken it like every other game, whether we Running back Brandon Whitaker draws back in as the Argos’ starter for Saturday’s game in Edmonton. win or lose. Our approach has been: ‘How do we get better from this?’
“Yes, we’ve lost eight games this year, yes, we’ve won seven, but we still have three ahead of us.
“Those are the games that matters. What’s important is the next game, the next series. What we’re doing right now is winning the play, winning on what’s right now and not focusing in what’s coming down the road.
“We’re not looking at 7-8. We’re looking at how we get better. That’s the big thing for us.”