Guelph Gryphon fans who’re at Thursday’s CFL preseason game at Alumni Stadium will probably be keeping a close eye on the former Gryphons who are in the game.
The Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa RedBlacks are to clash in the final preseason tuneups for both teams.
There could be as many as five former Gryphons in the game as the Argos have four (Alex Charette, Jeff Finley, Jake Reinhart and Cam Walker) and the RedBlacks have one (Andrew Pickett).
Reinhart, a Guelph native, is anxious for game day to arrive.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to be playing back in Guelph after I got signed by Toronto. We had the training camp here before, so it was nice coming back for that and now again, a preseason game. It’s very exciting. It’s a great field to play on and it’s nice to be at home.”
And he should have plenty of support from the fans in the stands.
“I’m sure I’ll have lots of family and friends make it out for that one,” he said. “Lots of memories on that turf so it’ll be nice coming home.”
Reinhart will be entering his fifth season with the Argos. A long snapper, he’s played in all 18 regular-season games in each of his four seasons with the team and he’s made 20 special teams tackles during that time.
“We had nothing but good memories on that field,” Finley said of his time with the Gryphons. “I cherished every moment of it.”
A defensive lineman, Finley is going into his second season with the Argos after spending three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. He’s looking forward to the game to be able to play against some former teammates.
“A few of my buddies just went to Ottawa,” he said. “My old defensive coordinator who’s now with Ottawa, it’ll be a great time. Definitely that field’s got a lot of memories, all fond. It’s just great to be able to come back and play here. Hopefully we get training camp here eventually.”
Finley’s played 31 games in his CFL career and has made 21 tackles on defence, including four sacks, and three tackles on special teams.
Wide receiver Charette will be hoping to continue a strong preseason on a field that saw some pretty huge performances when he was with the Gryphons. He had four catches for 28 yards in Toronto’s preseason win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week in Hamilton.
Charette joined the Argos late last season after spending two and a half seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. He’s played in 32 games in the CFL and caught 24 passes for 208 yards. He also had two carries for 16 yards rushing and one kickoff return for 20 yards.
Defensive lineman Cam Walker originally thought he’d be playing with the RedBlacks in the game after signing with Ottawa as a free agent during the off-season. However, the Argos were quick to pick him up after the RedBlacks released him so now he’ll get to wear the double blue in the game.
“I can’t wait to get back on the field,” he said. ”There are a ton of good memories here so I’m really looking forward to that. When the lights turn on, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m very excited for that.”
Walker’s played a total of 35 games in three seasons with the Argos and he has 15 special teams tackles.
For offensive lineman Pickett, it’s his first preseason in the CFL as the RedBlacks selected him in the third round, 22nd overall, in last month’s draft. It’ll be less than a year since he played on the stadium’s turf wearing a Gryphon uniform.
“It’s a surreal feeling because you get to go away and play in the CFL, but you also get that comfort of home where you grew up and where you’ve developed as a football player and where you’ve kind of turned into a young man,” he said. “It’s really awesome to be able to play there and I’m really excited.”
He’s also expecting to see a lot of familiar faces in the stands.
“It’s really cool because I get to have all my friends come and watch me and support me. It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s just like old times.”
Game time Thursday is 7:30 p.m.