The old 'college' try

IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

In the rare occasions Trey Young gets close to Ricky Ray on the football field, he reminds the Edmonton Eskimos quarterback of a day seven years ago.

"Ricky Ray tossed us a game," said the Calgary Stampeders safety. "I try to sneak that in to him about the 'Errant Ricky Ray Pitch.'

"He is so cool that he never worries about it."

It was one of the few times Ray made a major mistake to cost his team a game, but it came in college.

The Edmonton Eskimos pivot was the star quarterback for the Sacramento State Hornets, while Young was the MVP safety of the Montana Grizzlies.

With the Hornets about to ruin Montana's homecoming game in 2000, Ray rolled out to run and kill the clock on what would be a three-point win.

While being wrapped up by two Grizzlies defensive lineman, Ray tried pitching the ball to his running back but instead put it straight into the arms of Montana cornerback Damon Parker, who ran in the winning touchdown.

The play became lore in Montana history, but barely registers with Ray.

That's the great thing about the Edmonton pivot. Nothing seems to rattle him.

"It is not that I stay up at night thinking about it," Ray said yesterday when reminded about the play. "They were the best team in our conference. Both years I was at Sac State, we played in their place."

Young obviously remembers it better, especially how Ray came back on the next drive and threw an interception to the same player.

"They were up 20-0 on us at halftime," Young said. "We came out and didn't allow a point in the second half.

"They were winning by three points and there was a minute left. If they got a first down, it was over because we were out of time outs. As he was going down, our cornerback came through and it went right to him."

Ray was the leader of a sometimes mistake-prone Hornets club in college, but as soon as he came to the CFL, his teams have been extremely successful, winning two Grey Cups and going to the championship game three times.

In the past season and a half, Ray has led the league in interceptions, and he has taken more than his share of huge hits. When he throws a pick, he comes back and keeps gunslinging. When he gets drilled, he jumps back up like nothing happened.

Nothing seems to bother him, even trash talk from a division rival.

"You can hit, do anything you want to him, he doesn't get rattled," said Stamps defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan. "He gets up and keeps on playing. I have a ton of respect for the guy because of that."

The running back Ray was trying to pitch the ball to that day in 2000 was Charles Roberts, who is going to become the Winnipeg Blue Bombers all-time leading rusher with his next 50-yard performance.

Young has had similar experiences with Roberts as he did Ray, often being amazed the running back gets up after taking huge hits. But seeing those two players have success in the CFL is a sense of pride for Young.

"There are so many guys from small schools doing well here so sometimes it doesn't matter where you play," said Young. "A lot of guys are trying to play down in the U.S. but they are graded out as being too small or too slow.

"As long as you make the plays, the things I did in college, you can play."

Still, Young won't stop trying to rattle Ray by mentioning the one time he handed over a win.

"He's so focused, he doesn't let guys get into his head," he said. "I try to have fun with him. You never know, it may work sometime.

"He may throw one right to me. We'll see."


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