Calvillo ready for a lunar eclipse
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
|Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo prepares for his team's game against the Tiger-Cats tonight. (QMI Agency)
Anthony Calvillo turns 40 on Thursday at a time when the Als’ precision pivot has essentially turned back the clock in recent weeks.
In the process, Calvillo has also turned what appeared to be competitive games on the surface into routs.
The Ticats, who play one of those potentially season-changing games in Montreal, have certainly noticed the proficiency that has been the hallmark of the Calvillo-led Als offence, a unit that looked completely unstoppable in last week’s win in Edmonton against one of the CFL’s premier defences.
When Montreal visited The Hammer last month, Calvillo was nursing an injured left shoulder (his non-throwing arm), was picked off on his first attempt and took shots that once again revealed his toughness in the pocket.
“It looks to me that he’s definitely feeling better than the first time we played them,’’ Ticats head coach George Cortez, no stranger when it comes to the quarterback position and offences. “I don’t see him grimacing when he gets hit all the time.
“I’m guessing he’s bounced back from his shoulder injury. I don’t see any difference in him from the year when I was last in the league (in 2009).”
When he throws for his next touchdown, which will in all likelihood be against the Ticats, Calvillo will move past Warren Moon on football’s career list. Both share the record with 435 touchdown tosses.
As he celebrates his 40th birthday, it’s hard to discern why so many in the game take Calvillo’s craft for granted.
Calvillo does not have Moon’s arm strength nor his athleticism, but his ability to deliver the football on time and in rhythm is second to none, regardless of downs and rules.
In Hamilton, Calvillo nearly led the Als to a stirring comeback from a 32-10 halftime hole.
In the second half, Calvillo threw for 221 yards, two touchdowns and zero picks.
According to Cortez, age is not a factor when a player continues to play at a high level.
“It’s only relevant if it affects your skills,’’ said Cortez.
When he coached in Saskatchewan, Cortez recalls the year Fred Childress experienced at a time when many in football doubted the offensive lineman’s ability to perform.
“Fred Childress turned 40 during the season,’’ recounted Cortez. “Was he the player he was at 35? No he wasn’t, but he was still a pretty good player.
“He never missed a practice for the entire year. And to say that about an offensive lineman is unbelievable at any age.”
With so much at stake Thursday night, quarterback play will once again be front and centre.
Calvillo has rediscovered his groove, while Henry Burris is coming off a regrettable night in Winnipeg where he put the ball on the ground far too often as the Ticats committed six turnovers.
Montreal’s defence has shown signs of improvement, but it will be tested against the Burris-led offence.
When Hamilton beat the Als 39-24 on July 21, Burris had a near-perfect game, completing 27 of 30 passes for 360 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Smilin’ Hank is five years Calvillo’s junior and is neck and neck with the future hall of famer as the CFL’s leading passer.
Burris takes one year at a time and won’t speculate if he’ll play when he turns 40.
“We’ll see,’’ he said. “I’ve always said I didn’t want to play when I was 40. I don’t want to be like him (A.C.) or Damon (Allen). Those guys are getting social security in the U.S. and playing football at the same time.
“I don’t want to be that guy, but who knows. (Calvillo) has some great personnel and he’s doing a great job distributing the ball. Kudos to him. Some like to play that long, others don’t. I don’t want to be playing against my son when he graduates from college.”