When he looks across the field Thursday night, McLeod Bethel-Thompson will see a familiar face in Trevor Harris, a quarterback battle that has its roots in northern California when the two were teammates in the UFL.
Only the most passionate of pigskin diehards would know anything about the defunct league, let alone the Sacramento Mountain Lions, the team where Bethel-Thompson and Harris first met.
Their head coach was the late Dennis Green.
Football is a small world, players coming and going, bouncing from league to league, the type of sporting existence where friendships are easily forged and career often reunited in the strangest of circumstances and backdrops.
And such will be the case Thursday at BMO, where the East-leading Redblacks will provide the opposition for the desperate Argos, who finally get a chance to play a divisional foe.
It’s only the Argos’ seventh game of the season, but there is no bigger game given the standings and given how woeful Toronto’s offence has been than Thursday.
With James Franklin, who went 1-3 as Toronto’s starting quarterback and was unable to produce a passing touchdown in the past three games, now benched, it’s Bethel-Thompson’s time to shine.
Harris got his shot in Toronto when Ricky Ray was injured.
Before his turn, Harris had to wait as Zach Collaros established himself.
“He (Harris) was second or third behind me,’’ began Bethel-Thompson of his days in the UFL. “He’s such a great guy, fantastic football player. We had similar journeys coming out of the Arena League, both playing together.
“We were close. We were workout buddies in the United Football League. He’s a strong guy. He was always outlifting me. I was trying to keep up with him.”
The Argos need a lift and it’s part of the reason why Bethel-Thompson will get his shot and not Franklin, who is taking the demotion quite hard, which is understandable.
Following Friday night’s nightmare in Winnipeg, Franklin took the loss as hard as any player, perhaps harder.
He knew he didn’t play, but like any competitor Franklin wanted a chance to bounce back.
He won’t against Ottawa unless Bethel-Thompson struggles.
Bethel-Thompson is confident and like Franklin says all the right things when questions are posed.
It remains to be seen what kind of presence Bethel-Thompson will have and how the Argos react to a Noel Thorpe defence that will pressure the backfield and send all kinds of blitz packages and players off the edge.
The key is to make the right read and be decisive, areas Ray took advantage when Montreal visited BMO last season, a week after the Argos offence failed to score a touchdown with the veteran sidelined.
Thorpe moved on to the Redblacks and his defensive identity has quickly been embraced by his players.
“Now he’s got the opportunity he’s been waiting for,’’ Argos head coach Marc Trestman said of Bethel-Thompson, who becomes the third quarterback to start for Trestman in the wake of an injury absence to Ray. “I think everyone is excited to see him play.”
No doubt Harris is among that list.
NEW KICKER IN TOWN
Marc Trestman said Sunday there will be a new kicker at Monday’s practice and true to his word there was in the shape of Zackary Medeiros.
Medeiros played in Ottawa and he’ll likely play against the Redblacks when the come to town on Thursday night.
Ronnie Pfeffer, the Argos’ incumbent, was hurt late in Friday night’s loss when the host Bombers blocked an attempted punt and returned it for a touchdown.
“I think he will be out this week,’’ said Trestman of Pfeffer. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow (Tuesday), but he’s still very sore. We anticipate maybe he’ll be back after the bye.”
Following Ottawa’s visit, the Argos won’t play next until Aug. 18 when they play host to the B.C. Lions.
BOMBEN IS BACK
There’s a history with Ryan Bomben, an obvious need on Toronto’s roster, an opportunity that could not be passed up.
The veteran offensive lineman is back in southern Ontario following a trade that, among other items, sent defensive halfback/cornerback T.J. Heath to Montreal.
Bomben and Argos head coach Marc Trestman first met when the two were with the Als.
A perennial all-star, Bomben, who is from Burlington, was traded to Hamilton in 2015.
The Ticats shipped him back to Montreal in a deal that would see Tigertown acquire the first overall pick in this past May’s draft.
He’s now on the move again, checking into the Argos’ base at BMO early in the afternoon Monday just as his new teammates were wrapping up practice at Lakeshore Collegiate.
Speaking of being on the move, the Argos had to change practice sites because Lamport Stadium had a previous commitment with Caribana festivities.
“We had Ryan in Montreal for a few years,’’ said Trestman. “We knew his athleticism, we knew he’d develop into a very good player and he has. We think he’s right there at the top of his career. We’re going to try to get him up this week in some fashion.”
Bomben can play guard or tackle and can even be used in tight end formations.
When he starts, it’ll give the Argos four Canadians on the O-line, which will allow the team to use an extra American, likely at receiver.
Toronto’s backups on the offensive line are young Canadians.
Heath was in his second tour of duty with the Argos, twice being traded.
Rookie Trumaine Washington, who started one game at SAM linebacker, is a candidate to start in the defensive secondary.