MONTREAL - For the first few months, everybody was talking about Anthony Calvillo’s all-time passing records.
Now, it’s all about Jamel Richardson and his quest for a league receiving record.
And with all the hoopla about the history books, it’s easy forget the Montreal Alouettes’ overall record — 10-6, good for a share of top spot in the CFL’s East Division — is pretty impressive, too.
“I feel like the league is getting comfortable with Montreal winning,” Richardson said. “I think they think it’s an annual thing every year. I feel like our hard work is getting pushed away a little bit by all these records, but I feel like we’ve worked very hard to get to where we’re at right now. I feel like that’s getting overlooked.”
Heading into Sunday’s early clash with the Calgary Stampeders at Percival Molson Stadium (11 a.m., TSN, QR77), the Alouettes are tired of talking about individual accomplishments.
Calvillo has understandably been in the media spotlight as he shredded the history books, becoming the CFL’s career leader in passing yards, completions and touchdown tosses.
His favourite target, Richardson, has tied the league record for most 100-yard outings in one campaign, with 11, and still has two tries to set a new mark.
All-time stats always make fascinating storylines, but Montreal’s offensive stars seem genuine in their insistence that the only record that matters is the tally of wins and losses.
Thanks to Friday’s flop against the Toronto Argonauts, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers now have a 10-7 record and the Alouettes are suddenly back in the driver’s seat in the fight for first-place and a playoff bye.
For the past three seasons, they’ve had it wrapped up by now. With only a couple of key departures in the off-season, most figured Calvillo & Co. would cruise to fourth straight regular-season title in what some once dismissed as the Least Division.
So what’s changed?
“The only thing I could say is this year, our conference is the toughest it’s been since I’ve been around. I think that’s been the difference,” Calvillo said. “It’s been more difficult for us to win and clinch it — as you can see because it has not happened yet — but we’re in position once again. And I’m excited about that because the way the league is this year, it’s been a battle.”
Elsewhere in the Alouettes locker-room, that’s a common sentiment.
You could argue the two-time defending champions aren’t getting the respect they deserve, but nobody is complaining.
“We’ve been inconsistent all season. We’ve been up and down, but teams have been getting up to play us,” said Alouettes defensive end Anwar Stewart. “Under the radar? I’m not really sure. But I know one thing — I’m sure a lot of teams had the Alouettes circled on their calendars. If you look at it, every team has given us everything that they had. I feel like we’ve been able to withstand everything that they’ve given us and I think it’s really going to show these next couple of weeks that everything that we’ve been through has really helped us become the team that we are.”