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Following a one-week hiatus, linebacker Henoc Muamba and the Toronto Argonauts will again square off against their arch rivals.

Toronto (4-5) plays host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-7) at BMO Field on Friday night before the two teams meet again at Tim Hortons Field on Sept. 5 in their annual Labour Day showdown. The Argos and Ticats opened a two-game series three weeks ago, with the home team winning each contest.

And although the games are important to both teams, Muamba said it’s not as if either side needs that as motivation.

“Of anybody we play and don’t need anything to get us started or get our juices going, it’s the Hamilton team,” Muamba said. “Obviously it was just two weeks ago that we lost to them in a game we felt we should’ve won.

“We’re definitely ready and focused and feel like we’re ready to put our best foot forward.”

Toronto and Hamilton are both coming off losses. The Calgary Stampeders rallied for a 22-19 road victory over the Argos last week while David Cote’s 48-yard field goal on the final play earned the Montreal Alouettes a 29-28 home win over the Ticats.

Toronto has lost three of its last four games and two straight, including a 34-27 decision in Hamilton on Aug. 12. In that game, backup Matt Shiltz started for the Ticats, left with an injury but returned to orchestrate two fourth-quarter TD drives that erased a 24-17 deficit.

On Friday, Hamilton starter Dane Evans returns after missing two games with a shoulder ailment. But before Evans’s injury, the Ticats played both him and Shiltz, and two weeks ago Shiltz and rookie Jamie Newman both saw action.

So Muamba and the Argos are expecting to face both Evans and Shiltz.

“Obviously he [Evans] has spent more time in the offence,” Muamba said. “At the same time, he’s not the threat running the ball that Shiltz is.

“They both pose different challenges but we feel equipped and ready to match those.”

Hamilton can also expect to face two quarterbacks. Veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson will again start for Toronto but head coach Ryan Dinwiddie wants to get backup Chad Kelly some snaps.

Kelly, 28, is the nephew of Jim Kelly, the former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer. Chad Kelly is in his first season with Toronto and has been used mostly in short-yardage situations.

The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Kelly has completed two-of-four passes for 26 yards with an interception. He has run six times for 31 yards and scored two touchdowns.

“We want to get him on the field a little bit,” Dinwiddie said. “He has the ability to escape the pocket, he can move and do all of those things.

“He’s not a one-trick pony. He has a good skillset.”

The next two games are important for both teams, given the tightness of the East Division. Toronto is tied with idle Montreal (4-6) for first with Hamilton just two points behind.

But Toronto has certainly had opportunities to take ownership of the East Division. The Argos dropped a 23-22 home decision to Winnipeg on July 4, lost 23-13 to Ottawa on July 31 (the Redblacks’ lone win thus far) and last week were outscored 12-3 in the second half by Calgary.

Muamba said while moving forward is important for Toronto, so too is learning from the past.

“It’s tricky because you don’t necessarily forget everything but you try to leave some stuff behind,” he said. “At the same time you want to make sure you pick up the lessons that you learn along the way.

“At the end of the day, yes, it sucks while you’re in the moment … but at the same time I think it’s an experience we need to gain for the road that’s ahead.”

Added Dinwiddie: “We understand we haven’t played our best football and there are some games we’re disappointed with our overall performance. But you can’t dwell on the past, we can only focus on the future and find ways to get better and just put our head down. We’ve got nine more games. We’re playing 4-5 football, we’ve got to improve that to get to where we want to go.”