A few quick thoughts on the exhibition game at BMO Field

Photo: Jack Boland/Toronto Sun

Photo: Jack Boland/Toronto Sun

  • BMO Field is a big improvement over the Rogers Centre/SkyDome. No question about it. This move could have a very big positive effect on the Argonauts and CFL football in Toronto. The announced attendance was 16,ooo+ but many of those people were disguised as empty seats. Still, the place was loud when big plays happened. It could be a great spot to watch football games in the future and it is so convenient with a Go Train stop right outside the front gates.

  • The only thing that I thought needed to be improved was the sound system. Many of the announcements were inaudible where I was sitting. Actually, let me add a second minor complaint, I never saw a program or roster sheet. In an exhibition game it is hard enough to figure who is who. That is made worse when you don’t have a line-up to refer to.
  • The Argo-Gryphons weren’t hard to pick out. Jake Reinhart wore his usual #58 while the other former Gryphons wore #73, #74 & #75. I was never able to identify Ryan Bomben of the Ticats, making me think he wasn’t dress / didn’t play in the game.
  • Long Snapper Reinhart had his usual solid outing in the first half. DE Cam Walker  played 3/4 of the game and he was a beast. LB Curtis Newton made a couple of special teams tackles and was in on a couple of run stops. Newton played linebacker on half a dozen or so series in the 3rd & 4th Quarters. Receiver Ryan Nieuwesteeg played the entire 2nd Half as a slot receiver making one catch for 6 yards.
  • Walker’s performance deserves a little more mention. When I heard in the off-season that the Argos were looking to develop Walker as the future replacement for All Star Ricky Foley I thought that might be a little optimistic. So few Canadian earn starting positions on offense or defense, and so many other outstanding CIS defensive ends have ended up as career special teamers or been switched to positions like fullback, I really had my doubts. I’m a believer now. In addition to a couple big plays on specials Walker sacked the Ticats QB in the 2nd Q, had another solid hit on the QB as he threw and brought heavy pressure several more times. Walker looked as ferocious in the game as he did when he was a Gryphon. I think he will be a CFL starter in the not too distant future.
  • I didn’t make it to the pre-game tailgate but I heard nothing but good things about it. Check out this Toronto Sun story – Touchdown! Argos tailgate kickoff scores with fans – for more on the tailgate party and some video. There is more on the tailgating at CFL’s The SNAP social media outlet.

  • I wrote this yesterday … I can’t help but think that some of the research the Argos have done and they are now attempting to put it into practice, ought to be taken seriously by the OUA. If the conference, like the Argos, wants to increase attendance then every OUA football game should include the opportunity for fans to tailgate. Banning barbecues in parking lots and harrassing tailgaters won’t grow the game. Fears and misconceptions about tailgating need to be overcome! … and I believe it more today. All OUA schools need to get with the times and create safe, fun, secure places for fans to enjoy pre-game activities. Games need to be more than the 3+ hours between the first and last whistle. They need to be fun EVENTS where people want to come and bring their friends and family.
  • I saw many members of the Gryphon family at the game. Head Coach Emeritus Stu Lang was there, as was new coach Donnavan Carter and his family. Sarah Garrett was there with her parents. I saw Zach Bader-Shamai and his dad Michael Bader, half a dozen players, girlfriends and several incoming freshmen. I know via social media that Al & Betty Nesbitt and Sherilyn Walker were there too. No doubt proud to watch their sons coach and play. Matt Nesbitt [Argos O-Line Assistant] and Cam Walker were high school teammates at London’s St Thomas Aquinas and members of the 2011 Gryphon recruiting class.

*     *     *

UPDATE: I wasn’t the only one impressed with Cam Walker’s play. My dad, who listened to the game on 900 CHML, told me he heard Walker’s name numerous times and that the announcers had plenty of praise for him. That seems to be confirmed by the Canadian Football Blog:

  • Listened to the Argos-Tiger Cats game on the radio and the name that kept being repeated over the airwaves was Anthony McClung. Tough to judge performances without seeing them but that’s probably a good sign for the Cincinnati product.
  • The other names that kept being mentioned for their performances. Matt Coates the Ti-Cats receiver, Delano Johnson the Ti-Cats D-lineman and Cameron Walker the Argos D-lineman.

I talked to Randy Dimitroff today. He also was at the game. He, John O’Brien and a couple of other alumni made the trek to Toronto and they arrived there in time to take in the the pre-game tailgate. They enjoyed it. Dimitroff concurs that the move to BMO Field will be a big plus for the Argos and Toronto football fans.

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