Pockets full of gold

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Anthony Calvillo doesn't look much like a quarterback. His jaw is not square, his stomach is not washboard, his presence is hardly captivating.

But here he is again, back in the Eastern final, after yet another 5,000-yard passing season, still the man to stop when you're playing the Montreal Alouettes.

Damon Allen, even at age 42, has the look of both quarterback and athlete. He used to be just one. Now he is comfortable in either role. He has pedigree written all over his face and his well-sculpted body.

He has this way about him now, back in the playoffs again after his first 5,000-yard season, as if the game stops when he plays it and he merely acts as director. He conducts the Argos orchestra and everyone drums to his beat.

Somehow, on the field, everything seems to slow down around him: That has become a great strength of Allen and that is what the Alouettes must contend with today.

But the real difference between Allen and Calvillo doesn't come from all-star votes and league awards, two categories in which Calvillo leads Allen. It comes from this: One man collects numbers, the other championships. One man throws touchdown passes, the other wins however he has to.

It took last year's Grey Cup and this year's regular season, after all these years, to separate Allen and Calvillo, to do what statistics cannot do, with Allen now in his place as an all-star, and Allen representing the East as Most Outstanding Player. Even though Calvillo threw for more yards, for more touchdowns -- heck, he even ran for more touchdowns if you can believe that -- he just didn't win as many games as Allen.

Just didn't win when the two were matched up against each other and it mattered most.

"The system in Montreal works for Anthony," said Adrion Smith, the Argos' veteran cornerback, when asked to analyze Calvillo. "In other systems, in Las Vegas and Hamilton, it didn't work out for him. I think the last four or five years in Montreal he's been a different quarterback.

"But he's not Damon. Damon had just a great year for us. We scored a lot of touchdowns and not many turnovers. He's testing the clock time right now. I think what's going on with him has just been great. He's 42, a grandfather, and nobody would ever thought something like this could happen. They used to think you had to be in your prime. Damon's changing all that thinking.

"He can on as long as he wants to go on. That's pretty amazing."

Calvillo has four 1,000-yard receivers, which can mean a few different things. One, he moves the ball around effectively. Two, he has a diverse group of receivers. Three, according to cornerback Smith, it shows how numbers can be vastly overrated in the Canadian Football League.

"I'm not impressed with 1,000-yard receivers," said Smith. "If you do the math, that's 55 yards a game over an 18-game season. A guy can go the whole season without a 100-yard game and still wind up with 1,000 yards and it's supposed to be a big deal. I don't think so."

From his place in centre field, Orlondo Steinauer would rather face Calvillo than Allen.

"It's harder to prepare for an athletic quarterback," said Steinauer, the Argos defensive back. "You watch Anthony and his mechanics aren't the best and his arms isn't the strongest, but he gets by because he's a student of the game.

"He reminds me a lot of (Jeff) Garcia and (Dave) Dickenson. It's his mind. Some people say it's his receivers but I think it's his mind.

"Some talent scout somewhere had to look past his 40 time and his height and his throwing strength and what he looked like because look at where's at today? He has made a great career for himself."

A career that will get better should the Alouettes win today.

"Our job isn't to stop Anthony Calvillo," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said. "Our job to score one more point than they do."

ALLEN CALVILLO

CFL SEASONS 21 10

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE 64.1 66.0

TOUCHDOWN PASSES 33 34

PASSING YARDS 5,082 5, 556

INTERCEPTIONS 15 19

QUARTERBACK RATING 102.7 97.4

RUSHING YARDS 461 189

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS 4 6

GREY CUP VICTORIES 4 1

MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER AWARDS 0 1


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