By Matt Conrad, photos by David Andrew Cox
Touchdown Atlantic 2023 has me more convinced than ever that Halifax can support a CFL team full time.
Our experience started Friday early afternoon. David and I met at a private hanger at Halifax international Airport waiting for the Toronto Argonauts to land. As they came off the plane every player seemed extremely excited to be here in Nova Scotia. We had a chance to speak with the head coach, quarterback, and couple other players. One was local Nova Scotian from Timberlea, Gregor MacKellar, who was selected sixth overall in the CFL’s 2022 draft. Gregor was extremely happy to be able to come home and play in front of family and friends.
This was the second year in a row Saskatchewan and Toronto battled it out in our province.
I asked the team if they felt like this game was starting to feel like the CFL’s version of the London games the NFL hosts. They never thought of it like that, but some said it felt like a playoff game.
They all had the same mindset though. Win this game! Toronto is currently 5-0 to start the season for the first time since 1960.
We headed over to Husky stadium to watch Saskatchewan do their walkthrough practice.
While walking around the field chatting with players, they too were very excited to be here. Many of them talking about the food they already had and plan to eat. We got to chat with CJ Reavis who spent some time with the Jaguars and Falcons in the NFL. Some may know him from the Netflix series Last Chance U. He was loving the food and we told him about Halifax’s official food, the Donair!
Saskatchewan’s quarterback, Mason Fine, was focused solely on winning this game, but knew his 3-3 Roughriders team had to play perfect against the undefeated Argos.
On “Game Day” the crowd was packed in 3 hours before the actual game for music and some tailgating. You could feel the energy in the sea of blue and green as the teams took the field.
The first quarter was off to a good start for the Argos. They scored two field goals and returned a punt for a touchdown. With less than 5 minutes left in the second quarter the Argos offence made it in the end-zone.
Saskatchewan had a chance to get on the board with a TD with just 1 minute left in the second quarter, but they fumbled the ball on the goal line. It was a tough call that had to be reviewed many times, but the refs favoured the Argos as recovering the ball. Saskatchewan got on the board later in the third quarter and was the only team to put up points that quarter with a field goal. Saskatchewan followed up with a second field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Toronto then scored another three points and followed that up with a pick six to pretty well seal the game up. Saskatchewan did score one final TD with 2 minutes left in the game. Toronto had all three groups on the team put up points. They now stand 6-0 for the first time since 1935. On top of that, Argos Andrew Harris rushed for eleven yards to move into fifth place for most rushing yards alltime in the CFL.
This is looking to be a truly historic season for the Argonauts. I know Halifax will look back on this game and season and appreciate what they got to witness in their hometown. While it is not confirmed that the event will happen here in Halifax next year, I am certain the fans will pack the place again if it does come back!