Last man standing

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Anthony Calvillo will roll into McMahon Stadium Saturday as part of a dying breed of pro quarterbacks.

The Montreal Alouettes starter is quite possibly the last pivot in the game today still calling his own plays.

Up to this season, he shared that trait with Danny McManus but the 41-year-old Calgary Stampeders gunslinger is now relegated to a backup role.

"I think Anthony's the only one who does it and teams are definitely going away from that," points out McManus, whose 259 TD passes is just one ahead of Calvillo in sixth place on the CFL's all-time list.

"Coaches want to have control. They do a lot of film study and they understand situations. Maybe they want to take something away from us so we don't have to think too much. Some guys like that, some guys don't.

"Calling your own plays isn't easy to do. He talked to me a couple of times about what it was like, what you have to do, and he just ran with it. Once you get that kind of power in the position, you never want to let it go, especially when you're that successful."

Successful doesn't quite do justice to Calvillo's numbers over the past decade.

The 13-year veteran is trying to become the first CFL quarterback to post five consecutive 5,000-yard passing seasons, although he has just 1,801 through seven games leading up to Saturday's clash with the Stamps.

Along the way, he's done it with a changing cast of characters, save for perennial ballhog Ben Cahoon, now in his ninth season in Montreal.

While Cahoon annually proves he is Calvillo's most reliable target, the remaining receiving corps has seen multiple changes over the years. The current crop includes Thyron Anderson, Kerry Watkins and Dave Stala.

Stampeders slotback Jeremaine Copeland spent four seasons with Calvillo in Montreal, including sensational campaigns of 1,757 yards in 2003 and 1,154 in '04.

"That's AC, he doesn't need great receivers, just receivers who can catch the ball," Copeland said.

"AC's one of those quarterbacks who makes the right reads and whenever there's man coverage, he's going to give you a chance to make some plays. You do that and he's going to put the impressive stats up.

"He was calling the plays when I was there and it lets you see how comfortable he is in that offence. It shows that he knows what he wants and goes out and gets it. It's what makes him the best in the league. He's thrown for 5,000 yards each year and makes him the No. 1 guy in the league, period."

Mc-Manus is also quick to credit Calvillo, who, like McManus, has overcome physical deficiencies to become one of the game's top passers. Both get the job done without rocket arms or scrambling ability.

"He does a good job calling his own plays, getting guys in the right situations to succeed," McManus said.

"Athleticism at the quarterback position is great to have but it's the six inches between your ears that's most important and he has that.

"When he's out on the field, it's a situation where he's able to set something up a couple plays in advance. Calling your own plays, from a quarterback's situation, it gets you more involved in the game instead of just being an extension of what the coaches have you doing. Some guys can do it and some guys can't. Anthony has proven he can do it."

McManus also expects to see the 34-year-old Calvillo continue posting inpressive passing stats for several years to come. Maybe even until he's 40.

"Oh yeah, if he wants to," McManus said.

"He's in great shape, his arm is as good as it was a few years ago and what he's enjoying the most is the ability to calls his own plays. He's really thriving on that."


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