(Hamilton) Anthony Calvillo is the last point guard to win the Gray Cup with the Montreal Alouettes. That was in 2010. Today, he is ready to pass the torch.
The use and meaning of the torch is attributed more to the Canadian than the Alouettes. But in this Gray Cup week, it’s only fitting.
“We work every morning with AC coach (Anthony Calvillo), and we all know what a legend he is. He knows what it takes to win a Gray Cup as a starting quarterback. He is a reference. Every time I get a chance to spend time with him, I don’t take it for granted. »
This is how Cody Fajardo alluded to Calvillo’s importance in the Montreal locker room after his team’s win against the Toronto Argonauts last Saturday. And since arriving in Montreal, he has rarely shown such demonstrative respect for the former number 13.
Now an offensive coordinator and running backs coach, the former Alouettes star is back for the ultimate game, 13 years after the team’s last victory. Montreal has never reached the finals since.
In the 2010 Finals, Calvillo completed 29 of 42 passes for 336 yards. The previous year, the Alouettes also claimed top honors thanks to two touchdown passes and 314 yards from their star quarterback.
In his current role, Calvillo must ensure he is no longer the last running back to win the Gray Cup for the Alouettes at the end of Sunday’s game. However, he has full confidence in Fajardo. Like all players in the dressing room, he swears.
“The most important thing for a defender is to have the confidence of the players in the dressing room. Everyone in the locker room, without exception, believes that Cody gives us the best chance to win. He proved it all year. He is always the first to come to training. He is dedicated to this team and the players appreciate that. »
Experience as a gift
Calvillo may be the most prolific passer in Canadian football history and has three Gray Cup rings somewhere at home, but the team’s fate is no longer in his hands as it was during the 2000s.
Still, his experience has value. And the Alouettes players would be crazy to lose him. “The most important thing (…) is to share our knowledge. Especially how to prepare. I think the most important thing is to keep the same routine. We must not overanalyze. I try to tell the players about my personal experiences,” he explains.
Although well aware of his worth and status, Calvillo refuses to rise above the fray. The other coaches within the team also have considerable experience and all give good advice.
And in this part of the season, all the work is already done anyway. “We have reached the end,” he says. No one needs to stand up or speak anymore.
Now it’s up to the players to do the rest of the work. And Calvillo believes he has given them enough tools to do it brilliantly.
Seen from above
Contrary to popular belief, the 51-year-old does not necessarily envy Fajardo. He is happy, sitting in the team offices, analyzing the game from the heights of different stadiums.
He’s served his time, and although he sometimes gets nostalgic, he says he’s happy to be in a position to win another role.
In Toronto (last week), we saw how happy (the players) were. We saw their desire to win and that they believe in it. The feeling is the same as in my time. There is so much more magic.
Anthony Calvillo, Alouettes offensive coordinator
Calvillo has managed the Alouettes’ environment for nearly his entire career. He experienced the glory years of the team with Ben Cahoon, Jamal Richardson, Matthieu Proulx and company. Like the amateurs, he also felt the wind of renewal this year.
In his opinion, the change first happened at the top of the pyramid. “There Mr. Péladeau took over the leadership of the team. Danny Maciocia is still there and is an important part. Then Danny hired Jason Maas, and the others followed. I believe the fans are proud of the product we offer them. »
Hours removed from participating in his first Gray Cup in 13 years, Calvillo refuses to put pressure on himself. As before the theatrical premiere, he knows that everything has been done, calculated and prepared for the team to arrive full of confidence on Sunday evening, when the curtain rises.
“This is not a normal week, of course, we are aware of the stakes, but we firmly believe that we can win this game. »