Record Hamilton crowd sees home side win emotional affair
HAMILTON — No matter where the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats are in the CFL standings, when it comes to the Labour Day Classic it’s always an emotional roller-coaster.
Orlondo Steinauer, who in his first foray into the annual meeting between the league’s oldest rivals as Tiger-Cats (9-2) head coach, learned that after his team‘s 38-27 victory.
He also learned even more about his squad.
Down 24-11 at halftime and without three members of their secondary, due to the ejections of Frankie Williams and Tunde Adeleke after a scuffle early in the first quarter as well as an injury to Jonathan Langa, Steinauer was forced to rely upon the unknown depth.
“It’s the mental makeup that you learn the most when these scenarios present themselves,” said Steinauer, in his post-game press conference. “You know what you have with your starters. But you when you look at the roster as a whole, you don’t know how they’re going to respond.
“You learn about their body language and demeanour and it was a gritty blue collar performance in response to adversity.”
The 46-year-old wasn’t the only Ti-Cat familiarizing himself with a Canadian Football tradition.
Quarterback Dane Evans, who dressed as a backup in last year’s tilt, was forced into action in Week 6 after starter Jeremiah Masoli went down for the season with a torn ACL.
Evans backed up Masoli last season and was taken aback by the hostility on the field.
“The emotion of the game surprised me a little bit,” said Evans, who rallied after two interceptions thrown in the first half with 19 straight completions and overall threw for 442 yards with 2 passing touchdowns and one rushing. “It was awesome to be a part (of it). The scuffle was cool, just not the end result of course.
“It brought me back to my high school rivalry days.”
As the Cats head into a bye week before traveling out west for a three-game road trip, the Argos season heads in the other direction.
Both in the figurative and literal sense.
With just one win in 10 games the Boatmen occupy the bottom of the CFL standings and will now have to rally quickly with a five-day turnaround down the 401 east to face the (3-7) Ottawa Redblacks.
Prior to the season wide receiver Derel Walker identified a championship mindset inside the locker room but what will happen after Week 12 will rule the make-up of the 2019 season according to the first-year Argo.
“It’s the action after these losses that will determine things,” said Walker, who despite the loss had nine catches, 203 yards and two touchdowns Monday.
“But I’m just a player though — all I can do is my job. I’m not a coach, I can’t put guys in a position they need to be in.”