Daryl Waud grew up booing the hated Toronto Argonauts when they battled the hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Labour Day.
On Monday, the 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive lineman returns as the enemy, making his first Labour Day start for Toronto at Tim Hortons Field.
“This was one that was always circled on the calendar growing up,” Waud said following Toronto’s walk-through Sunday. “Hostility, that’s the word that comes to mind.
“A bloodbath on the field and a battle in the stands. I’m excited to be part of it once again … I can’t wait for kickoff.”
Waud, 23, will appear in his second Labour Day game with Toronto, which took the former University of Western Ontario star in the second round of the 2015 CFL draft.
“He doesn’t say too much,” Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich said of Waud. “He just comes to work, brings his lunch pail and does everything you ask him to do.
“I think with more playing time he’s going to become more of a force … a guy in the future teams will have to worry about.”
Hamilton beat Toronto 13-6 in the first Labour Day showdown Sept. 4, 1950, and leads the overall series 31-13-1. The Ticats have won four of the past five Labour Day meetings, including last year 42-12, but are 1-2 at home this season.
Monday’s game is an important one as both teams are tied for second in the East Division with 4-5 records. Toronto puts its 3-0 road record on the line after dropping a 16-13 decision to B.C. on Wednesday, its third-straight home loss, to fall to 1-5 at BMO Field.
“It probably doesn’t hurt,” Milanovich said. “We’ve played better on the road the last couple of years unfortunately.
“There’s a certain sense of an ‘us against the world,’ type of thing that goes on when you go on the road. Maybe a change of scenery will help us out a little bit. This game is a great atmosphere game. … Coaches and players enjoy games like this.”
Hamilton is coming off a 30-24 road loss to Calgary on Aug. 28 and is 1-2 since the return of starter Zach Collaros (knee). The Ticats kicked off the 2016 campaign downing Toronto 42-20 in its first-ever regular-season game at BMO Field, with backup Jeremiah Masoli passing for 318 yards and three TDs.
Collaros has been sharp, though, averaging 384 yards passing in his three starts with 12 completions of 30-plus yards. He’s also thrown at least one TD pass in 14 straight games and has 31 touchdown strikes in his past 11 contests.
“They had some great games with Jeremiah, but Zach is an elite quarterback, one of the best in the league if not the best,” Milanovich said. “To me, he’s turned himself into a pocket passer, and if things break down he can create and make big plays.
“It’s hard to compare the two, but when Zach is on his game, he’s one of the best in the league.”
A win Monday or back at BMO Field on Saturday would give Hamilton the season series and the tiebreaker if the two teams finished tied in the standings.
“You need days like that, with big-time rivalries, to make the sport more exciting and make it more meaningful,” said Kent Austin, Hamilton’s head coach/vice-president of football operations. “Without days like that, I don’t think the sport would have as much value.
“We try to prepare our guys the same way every week … because our preparation, really, should be consistent. That being said, obviously you can’t get away from the hype and the fact it’s going to be a sellout and it’s meaningful and it’s our biggest rival and all those things, which actually make the day really really memorable.”
Waud won’t be the only player achieving a career first Monday.
Toronto defensive lineman Justin Hickman plays his first Labour Day game against Hamilton, where he spent five seasons before joining the Argos as a free agent. And Ticats slotback Chad Owens will don the black and gold on Labour Day after seven years with the Double Blue.
Owens, 34, has 43 catches for 596 yards and four TDs after recording 55 receptions for 570 yards and two touchdowns last year with Toronto.
“I think there’s a built-in hate with this rivalry, right,” Hickman said with a smile. “You’ve got a chance to come out [Monday] and make yourself a new enemy if you didn’t have one and if you already have one you can go out [Monday] and make a new enemy for Saturday.”
Toronto linebacker Brandon Isaac said the Ticats-Argos rivalry takes him back to his collegiate days.
“I played at the University of South Carolina and our archrival is Clemson and it’s that type of rivalry,” Isaac said. “It’s fun that we’re hated over there and we know that we’re hated over there.”Report Typo/Error