Home, Sweet Home

I twice survived my adventure last week to photograph the Argonauts’ practice session. Once while at the Mississauga field, as I refrained from chanting “Argos Suck!” and being blacklisted from future photo shoots. And I survived again this past Saturday when news of my trip to the Toronto camp filtered out to the people I sit with in Ivor Wynne’s Box A.

The query “You went to an Argos practice?” was accompanied with furrowed eyebrows and a sideways glance from the one we call Smitty. Once, a few years ago, Smitty was kicked out of the SkyDome twice and managed to return each time to berate the Double Blue sidelines with beer-fueled gridiron epithets.

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But, fortunately, on this day the Tiger-Cats played an outstanding game destroying the Edmonton Eskimos 51-8 and most of the focus was directed toward the field.

Ti-Cats quarterback Henry Burris, below, made 23 completions for 418 yards and three touchdowns.

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Hamilton’s defense was up to the challenge as well, giving up only eight points despite having 360 yards passed against them. Here DB Chris Rwabukamba reels in Eskimo veteran Fred Stamps who hauled in this 59-yarder.

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And Hamilton’s Jamall Johnson played a “Perfect 10” defense, below, keeping receiver Hugh Charles out of the endzone.

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Oskee Wee Wee!

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Behind Enemy Lines

It may come as no surprise to many, as a Hamiltonian living in Brampton, that I bleed Black and Gold. So what would be the factor involved in my decision to spend a few hours at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus photographing the Ti-Cats’ perennial rivals, the Toronto Argonauts, during a practice session?

Well, for the love of the Canadian game, I suppose, and a chance to get up nice and close without the need for media outlet accreditation. Communications director Eric Holmes was nice enough to e-mail me the suggestion of photographing the open practice since field access at home games is more strictly controlled by the team and the league.

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The Argos were preparing for their Saturday night game against the BC Lions in Vancouver, an important match for both teams as they each attempt to slide comfortably into first place in their divisions.

Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray, in his first year with the Boatmen, led the squad through practice drills. Quiet and business-like, Ray took snaps as the offense ran plays.

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Hawaiian-born Chad Owens, the Argos’ flamboyant wide receiver/kick returner, was all over the field. Despite being named the 2010 most outstanding special teams player, leading the CFL in punt, kickoff, missed field goal returns and all-purpose yards, I have a few reservations as to his ability to hang onto the football.

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Owens mishandled a number of balls during the Argos’ game against Hamilton at Ivor Wynne but apparently made up for it, at least in the eyes of the highlight reel, with a one-arm catch across the middle late in the game. But even in practice, without the pressure of actual opponents , Owens’ apparent propensity to lose the football popped up a number of times, as I captured below on this punt return drill.

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General Manager Jim Barker, below.

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McMaster Marauder alumnus Chris Van Zeyl, Toronto’s offensive line tackle, is either enjoying the natural aspects of the U of T west campus or marking territory so that Tiger-Cats fans, like myself, won’t find themselves behind enemy territory again.

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