Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich may have left a good friend behind in Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo, but there will be no debt of love when it comes to Friday’s bid for first place in the East Division.
Milanovich, who spent five years as the Montreal offensive boss, will hold back on the sympathy if he sees his old friend take another shot on his already sore left shoulder when the Argos (2-2) face the Als (2-2) at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.
Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray also says he won’t spare a tear for the Montreal quarterback. And defensive back Étienne Boulay, cut last month by the Als before being picked up by the Argos, says returning to Montreal – where he likely will spend most of his time on special teams – is a challenge he looks forward to.
“It’s a big game for us,” Milanovich said.
The coach says he has seen Calvillo wincing in pain as he gets up from a pile. Professionally, it’s good to see, but he puts his private feelings on the back burner.
“Anthony’s not just a player I coached. He was friendly with me and his family with my family. I always want him to do well. But relative to his team losing two games, that’s not my concern any more. This week, we need to go in and get a win and that’s all I’m worried about.”
Calvillo will use a slightly altered throwing style to protect his left shoulder and to hit the numbers on the jerseys of his receivers.
“But we’ll have our hands full [trying] to knock his down a little bit and disrupt the receivers,” Milanovich said, referring to S.J. Green, Jamel Richardson, Brandon London and Éric Deslauriers, who excel at blocking.
“Our guys are going to have to get in there and get to the quarterback and knock the ball out of his hands, so those guys don’t have all day to run around and rough people up.”
The Alouettes are trying to overcome a loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week that exposed their defence. (Hamilton pivot Henry Burris completed 27 of 30 pass attempts.)
Montreal has given up 139 points – more than any team except the winless Winnipeg Blue Bombers (141) – putting pressure on the offence and Calvillo.
Calvillo was still 24 of 39 with three touchdowns and 374 yards last week, but the one-man show can only go on so long.
“He’s been one of the best in the league for a long time and put up some great numbers and won Grey Cups. Being an opposing quarterback, you have to match what he can do,” said Ray, who hit Jason Barnes for a late 37-yard touchdown in last week’s win over Winnipeg.
He also tossed a 37-yard strike to Chad Owens, who has been the all-purpose yards leader in the league the last two years. Owens has already piled up 1,010 yards in combined offence this season.
The Argos have alternated losses and wins and taking over the East lead would provide a psychological boost, Ray said. “If we can set the pace, we have a chance to put a string together.”
Boulay, a two-time Grey Cup-winner in his six seasons with the Alouettes, is looking forward to proving himself to his ex-team.
He suffered a concussion last October, and played in one preseason game this season before being cut loose.
“But now I’m with a team that wants me. My heart’s here. I’m going to give my best to the Argos,” he said. “It’s a good fit. It’s going to be special. I’m glad this chance to play in Montreal is going to be out of the way early. I want to win this badly.”