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Hogan: A classic battle awaits in Eastern Final

Mike Hogan
11/13/2013 9:53:22 PM
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The Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats have not met in an East Division Final since 1986. While that may seem like an eternity, and by CFL standards it is, this battle harkens back to a battlefield of an era that predates this rivalry by several centuries - Ancient Greece.

The Argonauts name can be traced back to the Toronto rowing club that adopted that moniker in 1872. It honours the Greek mythological tale of Jason and the Argonauts' quest for the Golden Fleece.

So how do the Ticats fit into this epic tale?

When a team employs an offence that features two different quarterbacks, it has been known to opponents as a 'two-headed monster'. That evokes the Greek mythological creature the Hydra, which had several heads. If one was cut off, another one would immediately grow in its place.

The Argonauts vs the Hydra. A super bout for the ages.

For the Ticats of current day, Henry Burris gets most of the snaps at quarterback during the course of a game. Dan Lefevour is not only the short yardage QB, but takes over when head coach Kent Austin believes that an offensive play or series that features his strengths is called for.

So do the Argos have to change their defensive scheme for Hamilton's multi-headed offence?

"Not at all," all-star middle linebacker Robert McCune told TSN.ca. "We're still going to run our defence. When Lefevour comes in, we have a good idea that it's maybe a run or some kind of short yardage pass, but Henry can run the ball too, so we have to prepare for both of them."

Safety Matt Black had very kind words for the short-yardage specialist.

"Lefevour is a great quarterback," said the Toronto native. "You saw what he did at the end of (Sunday's) game. He's a powerful runner and can get the tough yards."

Lefevour basically runs a wildcat offence. Black says that the key to stopping it is simple.

"Be disciplined," continued the first-year starter. "If your job is to capture the edge, then you have to capture the edge. If your job is to cover the tight end, then you have to cover the tight end. The moment you start getting nosey and peeking is the moment he'll pull it or they'll run a trick play and hurt you on it."

In theory, it sounds like a great offence to run, unless of course you talk to the starting quarterback. While Burris hasn't been complaining about the rotation, most quarterbacks will tell you they play better when they're allowed to get into a rhythm, something that Burris certainly wasn't able to do against the Alouettes in the East Semifinal.

Argos head coach Scott Milanovich, a former star NCAA quarterback who played pro in the CFL, NFL, XFL, AFL and NFL Europe, was hesitant to speak specifically about the Ticats' situation, but ended up doing so anyway.

"My personal experience would be that any quarterback is going to tell you the same thing; that they'd rather be out there for every play," said Milanovich after Wednesday's practice. "I assume Henry would say the same thing, but there's been a period of time this year where we'd put Zach (Collaros) in on second-and-three, second-and-four, maybe not for an extended period of time like they're doing, but most quarterbacks generally don't want to come off the field, so I don't know that Henry would feel any different (laughs)."

Argos quarterback Ricky Ray has never been a part of an offence that rotates its pivots the way the Ticats do. Early in his Edmonton days, the QB with the hot hand would be the starter, but they didn't rotate as often as Hamilton does.

Would Ray find the situation difficult?

"I haven't had a lot of experience coming out and then going back in," said the East Division nominee for Most Outstanding Player. "You just have to make the best of it. There's nothing you can really do about it, you just try to stay in it mentally when you're not out there. The biggest thing is just trying to stay loose, staying warm and being able to go back in."

So while not ideal for quarterbacks, Hamilton has proven that the two-headed monster can be a dangerous opponent to contend with. How do the Argos slay the beast on Sunday?

Toronto rookie linebacker/rush end Shane Horton has the perfect man for the job.

"No question, it's Vader."

Huh?

"Vader has the force like nobody else."

It should be noted that Horton is a fanatic about the Star Wars series. He wears a Darth Vader tee shirt under his uniform on game days and his Twitter handle is @Darth_ShaneO

So how would the Sith Lord defeat the mythological creature?

"He'd just give him a force choke with two hands instead of one."

Is that what Horton plans to do against the Ticats?

"No, no 15-yard penalties. I'm going to go below the helmet."

In the legend it was Heracles, not Darth Vader, that slayed the Hydra. The Argos are hoping to channel their inner Greek hero on Sunday.

Mike Hogan is the radio play-by-play voice of the Toronto Argonauts on TSN 1050 radio. You can hear the broadcast on TSN 1050 in Toronto or online at TSN1050.ca beginning with a one hour pre-game show at noon eastern time, followed by the kickoff at 1pm.

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