Argos need win in Montreal to clinch CFL East, bye to final

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Argos receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. is ready for a “big” game. Toronto’s game in Montreal on Saturday marks the team’s biggest of the season.

For Gittens Jr. and the Argos, the matchup in Montreal presents the first chance to wrap up the CFL’s East Division title, and the bye to the East final that comes with it.

But the Argos have not won in Montreal since 2015. If that streak continues, the two teams meet in Toronto a week later, on the final weekend of the season (and Montreal has not won in Toronto since 2016).

Gittens Jr. believes there is no sense in worrying about the Argos’ recent past in Montreal.

“Every week is a new week, for us, it’s another game in Montreal, and we’re not worrying about the past,” said Gittens Jr., who has put together a breakout season in the CFL.

Gittens Jr. has distinguished himself as the top Canadian receiver in the league, with two games remaining in the regular season. His 74 catches and 984 yards rank seventh overall in the CFL, but also mark a career high for the 25-year-old product of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Gittens Jr.’s family immigrated from Guyana when he was a toddler, and settled in Ottawa. When his football career appeared destined for the pros, Gittens Jr. decided to leave Ottawa for university life in Waterloo.

“I feel like in life, in order to grow, you have to make mistakes on your own and learn on your own,” said Gittens Jr., whose next touchdown catch will be his fifth of the season, which would also mark a career high.

“I thought the best decision for me was to go to university away from home, so I could experience life, and if I do make a mistake, learn from it.”

“So, I’m sitting here now, three years away from university, I have a two-and-half-year-old daughter (Logan),” Gittens Jr., added. “And moving away and going to university helped me become a better person, become the person I am today, and the father I am today.”

Gittens Jr. is also part of an Argos receiving corp that includes Cam Phillips, Markeith Ambles, Dejon Brissett, DaVaris Daniels, the injured Juwan Brescacin and Brandon Banks, who is back in the fold this week after missing time due to a death in the family.

While it’s been discussed that the Argos do not boast a league-leading receiver, the corps have helped quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson climb to the top of the league in attempts, completions and yardage.

In the meantime, Montreal quarterback Trevor Harris is third overall in passing. Argos linebacker Henoc Muamba feels Harris has one of the quickest releases in the CFL, next to Nathan Rourke.

Harris’s favourite target is Eugene Lewis, the league’s third-rated receiver. Talk has centred on the Argos stellar defence going up against Harris and William Stanback, the CFL’s leading rusher a year ago. The battle to get open and produce yardage and points through the air figures to be a significant factor in deciding who earns the East crown.

NOTES: Argos coach Ryan Dinwiddie said all-star running back Andrew Harris, out since August with what was first thought to be a season-ending pec muscle tear, has been cleared for football activity. Dinwiddie said there’s a good chance Harris can play in the final game of the regular season, depending on his recovery progress … Toronto defensive lineman Shawn Oakman, who was out last weekend in Edmonton with a shoulder injury, is set to play in Montreal.

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