Canadian line O so sweet

WES GILBERTSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Montreal Alouettes gunslinger Anthony Calvillo has five big reasons to celebrate Canada Day.

From one end to the other, the Alouettes' sturdy offensive line is stocked with non-import talent. Has been for a long time.

"I think the guys that have been up front have been the foundation of this organization," Calvillo said.

"There's been many changes elsewhere, but that foundation has been the rock of this team, and I truly believe if it wasn't for them, this team wouldn't be as successful as it's been for so many years.

"To have the privilege of playing in front of five Canadians, it's special, because when I first started, it wasn't like that."

Over a dozen seasons with the Baltimore Stallions/Montreal Alouettes organization, Calvillo hasn't had to introduce himself to too many new faces along the offensive line.

Centre Bryan Chiu has been with the squad since 1997, and right guard Scott Flory has made his home at Olympic Stadium for the better part of eight summers.

Left guard Paul Lambert has been wearing Alouettes silks for the past seven seasons, while tackles Josh Bourke and Jeff Perrett are the most inexperienced of Montreal's regulars with two campaigns apiece under their belts.

"Whether we are Canadian or American, there's a certain level that we expect out of each other," said Chiu, an eight-time CFL all-star.

"We're our own harshest critics. The coaches might get mad at us, but we're as tough on ourselves as anyone else.

"Something that we take a lot of pride in is keeping Anthony standing upright and being able to throw the ball and opening holes for our running backs.

"We don't want to be noticed too much. We just do our jobs."

Other teams have certainly taken notice. Boasting an all-Canadian front five has given the Alouettes unparalleled flexibility with imports at other positions.

When it comes to employing homegrown talents in the trenches, it's a case of the more the merrier, but the defending East Division champions are currently the only CFL team with non-imports taking the bulk of the snaps at every position along the line.

The hoggies have been hot commodities in the draft, with the Stamps taking a pair of blockers -- Jesse Newman and Dimitri Tsoumpas -- in the first round in 2008.

"A wise man once said 'Nothing's ever original,'" said Flory, a five-time league all-star and the CFL's top lineman last season. "It's no secret that this league, in the '80s and '90s, it was constantly five Canadian offensive linemen.

"Maybe teams are going back to that. It's traditionally been a Canadian position because there's a lot of great offensive linemen coming out of Canada."

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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