Saturday, November 18, 2017
RIDERS, ARGOS READY FOR EAST DIVISION FINAL CLASH
TORONTO - He's yet to decide his football future but Ricky Ray wouldn't mind following the script Henry Burris did last season.
Burris, 41, called it a career in January roughly two months after leading the Ottawa Redblacks to a 36-30 upset win over the Calgary Stampeders in last year's Grey Cup game. Ray, 38, can move a step towards a similar scenario Sunday when the Toronto Argonauts host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the East Division final at BMO Field (12:00 pm Sask Time, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
The winner advances to the Grey Cup game on Nov. 26 at Ottawa's TD Place versus either the Edmonton Eskimos or Calgary Stampeders.
"I mean I'd love to have that opportunity.''
The six-foot-three, 195-pound Ray has enjoyed a resurgence this year, finishing second overall in CFL passing (5,546 yards) and leading Toronto (9-9) to first in the East Division. Heady stuff for a player who'd played in a combined 12 regular-season games due to injuries the past two years.
"We wouldn't be here without him,'' Trestman said. "You never are without the quarterback playing at a high level.
"Ricky does that every day, He leads the way, he gets us through the practices. He doesn't say much but his actions certainly, as people know around the league, have spoken throughout his career a lot bigger and larger than words.''
Riders coach/GM Chris Jones, who's also in charge of the club's defence, said watching film of Ray isn't any fun.
"It's a nightmare for me,'' Jones said. "There was probably at least five or six balls in the last game we played here in Toronto (27-24 win Oct. 7) where we had defenders right there but he's able to stick that ball in.
"He knows right where to go with the football. His heart rate is around 40 or 50 regardless of whether you hit him or if he just threw a touchdown. He's very tough to go against.''
Ray said the feeling is mutual preparing for Jones, who's never been afraid to be unconventional in his schemes and gameplans.
"I'll take that as a compliment,'' Ray said. "It's a nightmare going up against his defence.
"He's dropping 10 sometimes and then bringing eight the next play so you've got to be ready for anything against him. On any play anything can come and we've just got to be ready and be able to react to it.''
Saskatchewan counters with its own veteran starter in Kevin Glenn. Like Ray, Glenn is 38 but the 17-year CFL veteran hasn't yet been able to play for a Grey Cup winner.
But Glenn, too, has enjoyed a solid '17 campaign with 4,038 passing yards and 25 TDs, his best totals in each category since '12. And Glenn does have history on his side, having led teams to the Grey Cup in 2007 (Winnipeg) and '12 (Calgary) but the Detroit native said the longer a player's career is, the better he learns to cherish these opportunities.
"The excitement that goes into it, the preparation and all that is still the same,'' he said. "It (Grey Cup berths) has been like a five-year thing . . . you think about those kind of things.
"Like I've been telling some of the guys, you try to enjoy it and maximize your opportunities and try to just seize the moment. This game is always about urgency because you're not promised tomorrow ... when you get the opportunity you try to seize it.''
Trestman said Ray and Glenn are both examples of players who still have a passion for the game.
"The biggest thing with guys who play that long is somehow they come to terms with courage, with toughness,'' Trestman said. "It's so hard to stand in there for so many years and take the kind of hits these guys take throughout their career.
"I think we've got two guys in this game certainly that legitimately have that passion and courage and toughness that it takes.''
Riders' receiver Chad Owens helped Toronto beat Glenn's Calgary Stampeders 35-22 in the 100th Grey Cup game in '12 at Rogers Place. Now teammates, Owens' goal is to help Glenn secure his first CFL championship.
"KG is the ultimate pro and being able to play with him has been unbelievable,'' Owens said. "I can chalk up two future Hall of Famers that I've been playing with (Glenn and Ray).
"KG deserves a championship. All I want for him is to get that ring ... I'm playing for him Sunday.''