By Ben Robinson
TORONTO, CANADA – A.J. Ouellette, a 2014 graduate of Covington High School, made his first professional start on Saturday for the Toronto Argonauts in a 39-9 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks.
And the former Covington Buccaneer and Ohio Bobcat didn’t disappoint as he rushed for 69 yards on 11 carries and caught 5 passes for 39 yards – one going 15 yards for his first touchdown as a professional football player.
On the play, Toronto was leading 22-8 and faced a second-and-ten at the Ottawa 15 midway through the third quarter. Argonaut quarterback Dakota Prukop scrambled out of pressure and found Ouellette open in the left flat at the eight. Ouellette broke a tackle and scooted the remaining eight yards for the score.
And that first touchdown was special because Ouellete’s family made the trek across the boarder to support him.
“Being it was my first start and six hours away from by home town (Covington, Ohio), my family got to come up for their first game and their first time in Canada,” said Ouellette as reporters surrounded his locker after the game. “Getting that touchdown, that’s pretty great and it’s pretty cool that they (his parents Phil and Jody) get to go home with the game ball.”
Canadian football is known for its favoritism toward the passing game due to the rules and the field dimensions, but Ouellette became a workhorse for the Argonauts in the running game by accumulating 6.3 yards-per-carry.
And it was Ouellette’s ability to punish defenders between the tackles that led to a professional career long run of 36 yards on Toronto’s first offensive snap of the third quarter.
“Throughout my (collegiate) career, I realized the contact early in the game wears down a defense,” said Ouellette. “So in the second half it opens up bigger holes and makes the job easier for the O-Line and gives the quarterback extra time because the D-Line and Linebackers are worn out.”
Still, Canadian football is a passing league, which benefits Ouellette because he is an all-around football player. Not only did Ouellette catch the ball well out of the backfield, he did a phenomenal job when stepping up in pass protection.
“I take pride in being a receiving back,” Ouellette said. “Everyone notices me as a power back and stuff like that, but when a defense forgets that you can catch the football it just opens up another part of the game.”
Toronto is now 4-13 overall and closes out the season on Saturday, November 2nd at Hamilton, who is the East Division leader with a 14-3 record.