Several former Marauders turned Argos become CFL champions
The Grey Cup is back in Toronto and four ex-Marauders are getting rings, one of which played for McMaster just last year
It was one year ago that Hamiltonians watched their hometown Tiger Cats suffer a Grey Cup defeat to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. While the Ti-Cats failed to make a Grey Cup return this year, the defending Canadian Football League champion Blue Bombers once again found their way.
The 2022 Grey Cup matchup wound up being the two top seeded teams in each conference, the Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts. For Hamiltonians, this matchup is about as bad as it gets, having to choose between the team who beat them in the Grey Cup in each of the last two seasons, or their long-time rival Argonauts — the longest rivalry the league has ever had.
For McMaster students, it may have been a little bit easier to determine the lesser of the two evils, as the Argos featured four ex-Marauders in fullback Declan Cross (2012-2016), wide receiver Tommy Nield (2017-2019), defensive lineman Fabion Foote (2013-2016) and linebacker Enoch Penney-Laryea (2017-2022).
Penney-Laryea may be the most familiar name for Marauders fans, as he graduated following the 2021-2022 season and is now just in his rookie year as an Argonaut. In just a three year span, he is both an Ontario University Athletics provincial champion, and a Grey Cup champion after the Argonauts put an end to the Blue Bombers three-peat attempt in a nail biting 24-23 victory.
“The Yates Cup was unreal when it happened at the university level — to a lot of us it was the highest level we had achieved at the time. But honestly, I can’t say it in any way compares to winning the Grey Cup. The stakes were higher, the sacrifices everyone made [were] higher, and we all understood that . . . The Yates Cup, that was an unreal experience, but the Grey Cup definitely tops it,” said Penney-Laryea.
The championship victory is the Argonauts first since the 2017 season, which ex-Marauder Declan Cross, the highest paid member of the team, was also a part of. The 2022 championship makes him a two time CFL champion after just six years in the league.
The expectations on the Argonauts were high from the season start - in 2021 they finished atop their conference, but lost in the division final. People knew that this was a team who had a shot at the title.
“When you take it to the pros it’s just like man, these guys are freaks of nature. That’s my first memory from my first practice, just seeing how gifted everyone was . . . From the very start it was instilled in us, this was it, man. We had to go get it done,” explained Penney-Laryea.
The Argonauts were confident from the start, and come time to perform, they were ready to go. Some had done it before, but it was a whole new experience for others. Regardless, the team was able to take it in stride and hit the ground running.
“I wouldn’t say I sensed a lot of nervousness. If anything, it was more excitement, definitely a lot of confidence. Guys couldn’t wait to get going, you know? They put it all out there — even some guys who were injured, the season had taken a toll on their bodies, they were ready to go. Knowing this was the last game you could really give everything,” said Penney-Laryea.
The game was very back and forth, but Winnipeg pulled ahead early in the fourth to a score of 23-14. Toronto fought back to a 24-23 lead and in the final minute Robbie Smith made a huge play, blocking a field goal attempt to save and win the game.
“As soon as it happened I was jumping. Everyone around me was jumping. Guys were running up and down the sidelines, everyone just burst into pure happiness and excitement. That was a crazy play to make. In the moment we were all just celebrating because we knew it was pretty much over . . . I remember thinking wow, we did it. It felt really good to defeat a team like Winnipeg,” explained Penny-Laryea.
With the season complete, the team will have several months to celebrate the victory before starting up again next year. Congratulations to ex-Marauders Declan Cross, Tommy Nield, Fabion Foote and Enoch Penney-Laryea.