The Toronto Argonauts finished the regular season with a franchise-record 16 wins and have the opportunity to return to the Gray Cup for a second straight season as they host the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division Final.
It is a rematch of last year’s East Final in Toronto, which the Argos won 34-27 en route to the franchise’s first Gray Cup since 2017. Quarterback Chad Kelly says the team is ready to defend the division title in front of the fans on Saturday at BMO Field.
“We’re all excited. Super stoked to defend this East title on our home field in front of the Toronto fans,” Kelly said Wednesday on TSN Radio. “Everyone is ready, prepared, determined, focused and ready to go put on a show.”
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The Argonauts booked their ticket to the playoffs in Week 11, and then secured the division title a week later, setting a CFL record for the fastest team to clinch a first-place finish.
With nothing to play for but the CFL wins record over the final six games of the season, Kelly says the team was able to stay motivated and focused by taking things one game at a time, a mantra the Argos will take into the game against the Alouettes.
“We always preach about being 1-0 on the day. I really think it’s about being focused and determined. Every day guys come in ready to work. We try to get better each day,” said Kelly. “We’re putting extra time in the film room. We’re able to all be on the same page more so than ever, having already gone 16-2. There’s just focus and determination between all groups to go 1-0 each and every snap.”
Kelly, 29, was named as one of the finalists for Most Outstanding Player last week along with Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Brady Oliveira. He finished the season with a 15-1 record as a starter, passing for 4,123 yards and 23 touchdowns.
While the accolade would mean a lot, Kelly says he’s more focused on the game in front of him and praised his teammates for helping him reach this position.
“It would mean a lot, but I’m focused on going 1-0. That’s my goal. All that personal stuff can wait,” said Kelly. “I wouldn’t be here without my teammates. All I have to do is make sure the ball gets into the right people’s hands and let them make plays. I think it would be a testament to my teammates and the good Lord for putting me in a position to be successful.”
Kelly was one of the heroes of last year’s Gray Cup, coming in for the injured McLeod Bethel-Thompson in the fourth quarter and leading the Argos on the winning touchdown drive. Now the starter, Kelly says he looks back at that pivotal moment as motivation to fuel the Argos to another Gray Cup.
“Every time I woke up this past off-season, I felt like I had to prove something. Being able to go in there at a crucial moment and have the storybook moment was surreal,” said Kelly. “I used it as motivation every single day. I wanted to repeat that success and be the guy. I’ve used it as fuel since that day.”