5 Yards off the Ball: Argos close out Rogers Centre Era against Winnipeg

Toronto – On Friday night the Toronto Argonauts will play their last game ever at the Rogers Centre, the dome has been their home for the past 26 seasons. Toronto will take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who were eliminated from playoff contention last week. With the Argos locked into 3rd place in the East and the Bombers not going anywhere, I decided to change from the 5 keys to victory, to the 5 reasons to watch.

  1. Ricky Ray Gets his 2nd Start

The Argonauts still do not know who their starting QB will be when they enter the playoffs next week, but Scott Milanovich is committed to finding out what he has in Ricky Ray this season, as he makes his second consecutive start. Last week Ray played well enough for the Argos to get a victory, but it appeared as though he still did not feel comfortable throwing downfield. Now that he’s taken some bumps and begun getting into the rhythm of practicing with the starters and preparing for gameday two weeks in a row, we may see a better Ricky Ray then we did last week. Toronto must improve their pass protection this week as well, so that Ray has time to make his reads downfield before checking down to a shorter route, if necessary. A few weeks ago some believed we wouldn’t see Ray at all this season, but now he gets the nod for a second straight week, which should provide some confidence for Ray and help him gel with the first team offens. How Ray and the offence perform Friday night will go a long way in helping Scott Milanovich and his staff make a decision for the Eastern Semi Final. Friday Night, all eyes will likely be on Ricky Ray.

  1. Final Game in Toronto for 2015

If you include the pre-season game that now feels like ages ago, this will be just the 6th CFL game to be played in Toronto during 2015. It has been an exhausting season for the Argonauts and their fans with the constant changing of home games and pre-scheduled games in other provinces. However, Friday night the Boatmen will once again strap up their helmets and tighten their shoulder pads as they go to battle against Winnipeg in Toronto. No matter the outcome of the game, this will be the final football game in the big smoke until sometime next spring. With the Argos locked into 3rd place in the East they will have to travel throughout the playoffs on their quest to the Grey Cup. The Argos were at home last week, but before that, almost two months had gone by since a game at the dome had been played. As excited as fans should be for the playoffs, it is always a bitter sweet moment when the regular season ends, especially this year where not many people got to see their team up close and personal very often. Hopefully most Argos fans take advantage of this and pack the dome one last time Friday Night, as they say farewell to their Argonauts for the 2015 season.

  1. Mike O’Shea gets honoured

The man that, for a long time, was in the middle of the Argos defence and is now the Head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Mike O’Shea, is officially getting his name and number put up on the Argos All-time banner next to other greats, like Pinball Clemons and Dick Shatto. O’Shea has a long successful history with the Argonauts, including three Grey cup wins as a player and one as the Special Teams coach in 2012. O’Shea is the epitome of the CFL as he is a Canadian born player who originally thrived on special teams, before making his impact as a starting middle linebacker. Knowing that he will forever be among the greats that have played for Toronto should bring solace and peace to many Argo fans and to O’Shea himself. The Argonauts have only retired four jersey numbers and O’Shea will be just the 5th, so it is something that’s not done very often or without high regard. O’Shea may have made his living with the double blue, but now he leads the Big Blue in Winnipeg where he will continue to try and make a name for himself across the league. Though playoff-wise the game means nothing, O’Shea knows the importance of going out on a high note into the off-season and that’s what he’ll try to accomplish Friday Night, but at least for a little while, we can all rejoice and remember his accomplishments with the Argonauts.

  1. Momentum building game

Argos head coach, Scott Milanovich, also knows the importance of winning games in this league, even if they don’t technically matter in the standings. Winning is a habit, but so is losing, and no team wants to enter the playoffs on a four game losing streak. That is why you won’t see the Argonauts holding back Friday Night, as they’ll try and notch their 10th win of the season. Regardless of the outcome Toronto will play in the East Semi Final next Sunday. The only question that remains is where will the game be played. The Argos’ focus right now however, is to leave their losing ways in the past and get a team win against Winnipeg. The Argonauts have not won a game since October 12th and the frustrations of players and coaches have begun to show. Toronto cannot enter the playoffs with this hanging over their heads, as it could be detrimental to their final goal. A win Friday night could put everything behind them and the Argos would feel good being a 3rd place team at 10-8. Toronto knows they can beat either Ottawa, or Hamilton when called upon, they just need to get some swagger back and settle down into their roles. Friday night is a perfect time for Toronto to get things corrected and move forward knowing that they are going on the road (something they are quite accustomed to) and if they notch two more wins, they’ll be in the Grey Cup.

  1. Last time at the Rogers Centre

A lot of people have different opinions on the Rogers Centre, and rightfully so. It hasn’t always been the best atmosphere for a football game and the Argos have not always been given a great selection of dates for games. Nonetheless, there will be something bitter sweet about Friday Night when the Boatmen take the field one last time. There have been magical games and magical seasons played out at the Rogers Centre, formally known as the Skydome. Argo fans will never forget the Flutie and Don Mathews years of 96-97, that brought home two Grey Cups. Fans older then myself were lucky enough to witness first hand the greatness of the 91’ season under the part ownership of John Candy. The Rogers Centre has been home to many memorable days and plays such as Pinballs last run in 2000, the 48-0 shellacking Toronto gave Hamilton in 2005. My personal favourite, the 42 yard field goal Noel Prefontaine nailed through the uprights with .27 seconds remaining in 2002 to send the Argos to the playoffs and allowing myself to see CFL playoff football for the first time ever. Many Argonauts fans and players are excited for what the future holds at BMO field, and many are excited to make new memories and find out where the Argonotes will be playing postgame, but as frustrating as this past season has been, Friday Night will be a sad night for some Argo faithful, who have known nothing but the Rogers Centre. With all the emotion and importance of this game for the Argonauts, you should expect a big win from the Boatmen and one last hurrah one last time at the place the Argos have called home for over two decades, the Skydome.

About Aaron McMillan (25 Articles)
Father Husband Football Coach Bleed Blue

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