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Published on Thursday, November 23, 2017

Oakville player looks forward to Grey Cup

Oakville's Declan Cross welcomes bigger role on Grey Cup-bound Argos

Oakville player looks forward to Grey Cup
Photo by Johany Jutras, Toronto Argonauts
Taking on a bigger role in the Toronto Argonaut offence this year, Oakville's Declan Cross had 37 receptions, including five touchdowns, during his sophomore campaign. Cross and his teammates will be looking to cap their season with a Grey Cup title Sunday as Toronto faces Calgary
By Herb Garbutt, Oakville Beaver

When the play call came in, Declan Cross recognized it immediately.

The Toronto Argonauts had moved the ball down to the Ottawa Red Blacks’ three-yard line. Now they were calling for a pass on first down.

To that point in his career, the second-year fullback had just four career catches to his name.

“You can’t get too giddy. You have to treat it like any other play,” the Oakville native said. “You just have to focus on doing your job. You can’t get too excited, otherwise you’re going to act differently.”

Lined up on the left side, Cross went in motion to his right as the ball was snapped. Quarterback Ricky Ray faked a hand off to Anthony Coombs just as Cross cut in front of them. With the Ottawa defence momentarily frozen, Cross turned to take Ray’s pass and then cut up field to go untouched into the end zone.

His first career touchdown came one day before his 24th birthday. And now as he and his teammates prepare for Sunday’s Grey Cup, Cross has to feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

But the Holy Trinity grad is taking a similar approach as to when he heard his number called back in July.

“I’m enjoying everything, but I’m really looking forward to playing the game. This is why we play,” he said. “Right now, it’s only about this game. It’s like all the other games didn’t happen. All we’ve been talking about is focusing on what we can do.”

The Argos lost both meetings with Sunday’s opponent, Calgary, this season but Cross says you only need to look at last year when Ottawa won the Grey Cup against the heavily-favoured Stampeders to realize it’s all about who performs on that day.

Cross has been getting the opportunity to perform with the Argos this season. After being used almost exclusively on special teams in his rookie year, he’s been able to showcase his skills with the offensive unit in his sophomore season.

His TD catch against Ottawa started a streak of 15 straight games with at least one catch, including a career-high six against Saskatchewan in early October. For the season, he has 37 receptions for 381 yards and five touchdowns.

“It’s been amazing to have the coaches and players trust you to have an expanded role in the offence and on special teams,” he said. “I think it’s a testament to getting prepared.”

The former McMaster Marauder says preparation is what put the Argos in the position they are in now. Toronto’s chances of playing for the Grey Cup may have seemed slim after a 24-22 loss to Hamilton in the first week of September dropped them to 4-7, but Cross said the Argos never doubted themselves.

“There’s a process to all of this,” he said. “And we’re fortunate all our work and preparation paid off.”

Toronto rebounded to win six of its last eight games, including a 25-21 win over Saskatchewan — another team they had not previously beaten this season — in Sunday’s division final.

When Cross scored his first TD, he called it “an amazing moment.”

“But I didn’t make it more than it was,” he added. “We were just trying to score. I didn’t really take it in.”

If Cross and the Argos’ preparation pays off one more time on Sunday, there will plenty of time to soak it all in.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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