HE IS 80 years old, is Damon McManus, and last night he was only half bad. In this corner, just a few completions short of his 41st birthday, Argos quarterback Damon Allen, a 20-year-veteran and holdover from the Etcheverry era -- Sam, that is, not Gary.
In the other corner, a sprite at only 39, is Danny McManus.
It is true in Hamilton, as it is everywhere else, that age and experience always trump raw youth.
Score it 34-6 for the Argos last night, now a giddy 2-2 and decisive winners in what was supposed to be the other guy's big night.
The Ticats, after all, had steamrolled to a 3-0 start with McManus' right arm accounting for an absurd 1,359 yards via the pass.
But Allen, good in the Argos' first game and poor for the next three, was spectacular last night, particularly in a first half when he guided the Argos to 230 yards in offence by virtue of 11 completions in 16 attempts.
He has yet to throw his first interception of the season.
"Yeah, I guess there haven't been any but I don't worry about that," Allen said in the steambath that is the visitor's dressing room at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
"I'm just reading defences, trying to make the right decisions."
Some vignettes: Start with Allen's neat scramble to set up the game's opening score, a 58-yard major to Tony Miles.
Late in the second quarter, Allen was levelled by Ticats sack specialist Joe Montford. He popped up, hit Andre Talbot for nine yards on the next play, and then garnered the first down on a two-yard keeper.
"He looks like a 30-year-old man," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said. "He's so wonderful and he's got such great pocket presence."
In the last minute of the half, Allen hooked up with Chris Cunningham for 51 yards and on the next play, scampered for nine and hit the deck with just one second left on the clock to put the ball on the Hamilton 27.
Noel Prefontaine missed the chip shot, but you get the idea. A kid wouldn't know how much time he had left. After two decades in the league, Allen feels the clock.
"I knew I had 10 seconds and I figured I had run five yards and that should have been good for about five seconds. You should be able to run 100 yards in something around 10 seconds so I took a couple of more steps and slid. I didn't know I had only a second left but it's a feel thing."
The kid, McManus, meanwhile, was playing in the teeth of a fearsome Argos defence and he looked spotty all night.
McManus finished with only 11 completions in 21 attempts for a piddling 148 yards, and had an interception. His errant throw on the opening drive of the third quarter ended up as Orlondo Steinauer second pick of the night and pretty well sealed the deal.
And when subjected to the big hit, McManus didn't get up. Antonious Bonner put him out of the game early in the third quarter a millisecond after McManus had released the ball.
"I took a shot in the chin and had some problems with my vision," McManus said. "Tough enough to play these guys when you can see them."
That brought 24-year-old ex-Argo Marcus Brady into the game and what chance does a kid have in this racket? Brady threw two interceptions and spent his night trying to live to see another.
"They have the No. 2 defence in the league," Brady said, "and you could see why."
You can't blame the kid. Fifteen more years and he'll know his way around.