In a 2009 season that they would like to put behind them, the Toronto Argonauts play host to the rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats Friday night (7 p.m. ET) at the Rogers Centre.
The Argonauts (3-12) are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention while the Ticats (6-9) are still in the mix, sitting tied for second place with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the East Division.
Several key injuries will give a couple of Argo subs an opportunity to play.
Second-year Argo Mark DeWit will get his first start of the season, after left guard Jeff Keeping injured his shoulder in last week’s 22-19 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.
“I really want to prove to the whole organization that I’m not just a guy who is going to be a sixth man my whole career,” DeWit told the media after practice on Tuesday.
“I want to compete for a starting job next year in training camp.”
Joining DeWitt in the starting fold is 26-year-old Fonthill, Ont., native Chris Van Zeyl, who is taking the place of injured tackle Brian Ramsay.
Ramsay injured his knee on the same play that knocked Keeping out of the game against the Eskimos.
Van Zeyl came in as a sub, and Argos coach Bart Andrus was highly impressed with the Canadian’s performance.
“He came in and did a great job,” Andus said. “He was prepared. He executed very well.”
Andrus moved Van Zeyl from his usual defensive lineman position to offensive tackle.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Andrus said of the switch.
“That’s all about being a pro and that certainly showed through for him.”
Making his first career CFL start, Van Zeyl is savouring the chance to show what he can bring to the struggling Toronto franchise.
“It feels great. I’m excited to get the opportunity,” the McMaster University product told reporters following Monday’s practice.
“It’s unfortunate it’s come in the circumstances that it has, but I’m glad to be in a position where I can step in and actually contribute to the team.”
To help with their recent string of injuries, the Argos also announced the signing of Canadian offensive linemen Scott Evans and Jean-Francois Morin-Roberge on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Ticats are coming off a disheartening 41-38 loss to the hot Motreal Alouettes (13-2) Monday.
A victory over its hated rivals Friday would keep Hamilton in good position to secure second place in the East, along with home-field advantage for the division semifinal.