Ray, Calvillo brothers in arms

When it comes to the deep ball, no one in the CFL throws it better than Argos quarterback Ricky...

When it comes to the deep ball, no one in the CFL throws it better than Argos quarterback Ricky Ray. He'll need to be on his game Friday when Toronto meets Anthony Calvillo and the Alouettes. (Stan Behal/QMI AGENCY)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:56 PM ET

TORONTO - They are similar in style and yet different in how each plays the quarterback position.

No matter how one cares to size it up and whatever measuring stick is used, both Ricky Ray and Anthony Calvillo will be remembered as two of the very best the CFL has ever produced, once all is said and done.

Just about all that can be done has been achieved as it relates to Calvillo, whose journey to the top of the league’s passing records coincided with meetings against the Argos last season, the two most impact accolades featuring touchdowns and yards.

In each case, the achievement was produced in Montreal.

In each instance, the Als would emerge as victors.

Ray’s numbers aren’t as monumental as Calvillo’s, more a function of longevity and being in the same system for an extended period, but if anyone has ever seen a better deep ball passer in three-down football they are flat-out foolish.

Anyone who visits an Argos practice can’t help but marvel at how effortlessly Ray throws down the field, how efficient his arm movement is, how accurate he throws it and how catchable every pass seems to be.

Late in Tuesday’s session, he stepped back heaved a bomb to Dontrelle Inman that would drop right into the rookie wideout’s hands with a defender draped all over him.

“They both have an innate ability to play quarterback,’’ one-time quarterback Scott Milanovich, who is among the rarest of coaches to have both Calvillo and Ray under his watch.

“They do have similar mannerisms in the way they approach the game. They both work hard, both are relatively quiet, lead-by-example guys.

“Their games are a little different, but both are accurate passers.”

What each does is make those around them better, no better example than the seamless transition the Als are able to execute whenever some high-profiled receiver either is out with an injury or decides to call it a career.

There are many in the CFL, most of whom prefer to speak without attribution, who wonder just how good Jamel Richardson is if someone other than Calvillo were throwing him the pigskin.

In Montreal, the offence, which Milanovich helped in its evolution under head coach Marc Trestman, it’s all about timing.

Disrupt Calvillo and the timing is off and it’s doubtful any receiver would generate 1,000-yard seasons.

In Toronto, Ray is asked to go through his progression, stay in the pocket, where he’s most comfortable, and find the right option, no matter if it’s in the flat, down the seam or along the sideline.

While Travis Lulay has established himself as an elite quarterback, the CFL’s reigning most outstanding player and Grey Cup champion, the Lions signal caller does not compare to the passing skills of Calvillo and Ray, especially when it comes to release and down-field precision.

Henry Burris, who lit up Montreal’s defence in last week’s win in the Hammer, has found a groove, but Smilin’ Hank presents that running threat neither Calvillo nor Ray possess.

Whether it’s Lulay, Burris or Kevin Glenn, the quarterback position demands toughness, a trait that often gets overlooked when describing Calvillo and Ray.

“When you throw as much as we do, as much as Montreal does, a team that throws it north of 35 times a game, you’re going to take some hits,’’ added Milanovich.

“A pocket passer needs that ability to come back from a hit, plant your feet on the next throw and deliver the ball in the face of pressure. It’s an under-rated quality and both of those guys have it.”

Ever since his left (non-throwing) shoulder was bruised two weeks ago, Calvillo has been forced to change his mechanics by keeping his left arm closer to his body.

His first attempt last Saturday night in Hamilton was picked off, a turnover the Ticats would parlay into an early 7-0 lead.

Even when trailing 32-10 at halftime, the Als were never out of it because Calvillo always seems to find a way to at least make a game interesting.

And he would by helping Montreal score two third-quarter touchdowns before eventually losing the game, 39-24.

“When you watch tape you can see him (A.C.) in a little bit of pain from time to time,’’ added Milanovich. “But there’s no doubt he’s staying in there and continuing to work. Their toughness is hard to argue.”

Even tougher is to debate who is better at this stage, Calvillo or Ray.

Either way, you can’t go wrong, which makes Friday night’s kickoff eventful.


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