From farm boy to champ, Ricky Foley part of Argos success story | Football | CBC Sports

CFLFrom farm boy to champ, Ricky Foley part of Argos success story

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012 | 12:22 AM

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Toronto defensive end Ricky Foley celebrates with the Grey Cup, one year after coming back to the CFL following a stint south of the border. (Photo courtesy: Kevin Light) Toronto defensive end Ricky Foley celebrates with the Grey Cup, one year after coming back to the CFL following a stint south of the border. (Photo courtesy: Kevin Light)

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The Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts are full of good stories. Defensive lineman Ricky Foley, who only has been playing football for a decade, watched his old team in the B.C. Lions win the championship a year ago. Now Foley has a title of his own.

As far as Toronto Argonauts defensive end Ricky Foley is concerned, even Oscar-winning Canadian screenwriter Paul Haggis would have difficulty writing a script better than the one that played out for the Grey Cup champions.

New Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray, traded by the Edmonton Eskimos in the off-season, beat his old team in the CFL East semifinal two weeks ago. In the East final last Sunday, rookie Argos head coach Scott Milanovich led his charges over his old team, the Montreal Alouettes.

Toronto running back Chad Kackert ran roughshod over the Calgary Stampeders, the team that once cut him, in the final. Argos defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones also got the best of his old boss, Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, in the 35-22 championship victory on Sunday.

Foley neglected to mention himself. The defensive end has only been at the game of football for a decade. He also heavily second-guessed himself when he signed with the Argos last season, especially when his old team, the B.C. Lions, went on to win the Grey Cup at home.

"It was tough last year with B.C. winning it," said Foley, named the game's most outstanding Canadian. "I love those guys out there. But I'll trade in a 1,000 sacks and a B.C. championship to win the 100th Grey Cup in my hometown.

"It couldn't be any better."

The game could not have started any better for Foley and his defensive teammates. The Argos knew they had to stop Stampeders running back Jon Cornish, the runner-up for the 2012 most outstanding player award earlier in the week.

The plan was to try to keep Cornish in the backfield and prevent him from getting any steam into the Argos defensive backfield. He didn't gain any more than four yards in his first eight touches of the game and one of those touches he fumbled, which Foley pounced on.

That turnover led to an Argos touchdown, and the boys in double blue never looked back. Cornish only managed 57 rushing yards on 15 carries. This was the third time the Argos held Cornish in check this season.

"The key to their offence, and we knew it was no small task, we had to stop Jon Cornish," Foley said. "We had to stop him in the backfield. We had to get penetration. If it wasn't the first guy getting penetration, it was the next guy cleaning up. The main thing was stopping him behind or at the line of scrimmage.

"We did that."

And the Argos defensive line did that without Adriano Belli in the fourth quarter. He was tossed late in the third quarter for his attempted arm bar on Calgary offensive lineman Jon Gott.

The six-foot-three, 257-pound Foley was in on five tackles and sacked Stampeders quarterback Kevin Glenn once. Not bad for an athlete who didn't play a down of high school football and had to plead with then-York University head coach Tom Gretes for a walk-on tryout.

Foley grew up on his family's cattle farm near Oshawa, Ont. His high school in Courtice didn't have a football team, so in his last year he transferred to Paul Dwyer Secondary in Oshawa, but its program was on hiatus because of a work-to-rule ploy from the board's teachers, who were in the middle of a contract dispute.

Instead, Foley trained to be a triathlete. But he turned down a scholarship offer to Baylor in order to attend York.

An e-mail he sent to Gretes asking for a tryout proved fruitful. Gretes only had to find a position for his new player. He tried Foley at linebacker, receiver, then back at linebacker, safety and finally because a couple players were injured Foley was put at defensive end and he finally found a home.

"I will always have a special place in my heart for that man," said Foley, who saw Gretes at the York-University of Toronto game last month. "I wrote him an e-mail and he gave a farm kid a chance who had nothing before."

Foley also thanked his brother Don for making this week easy to prepare for. Don spent between $8,000 and $9,000 worth of Grey Cup tickets for their mother and father, other family and friends.

"It was good for me," said Foley, who has had tryouts with Baltimore, Seattle and the New York Jets in the NFL. "He took away that part from me. I didn't have that distraction. I didn't have that pressure."

It simply was on to the game for Foley, who played a big role in the team's five straight wins to end the season.

"I just know when we get on a roll like we did, we had so many guys coming up to make big plays," Foley said. "We had a new offence and a new defence. Once we all got used to everything new, we just got on a roll."

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