Second title would pad Calvillo's resume

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Montreal quarterback has rare chance to win a Grey Cup on home field

Qualifying for the Grey Cup is nothing new for Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Six times now, since 2000, he has made it to the Canadian Football League's championship game.

In four of those five games, Calvillo's team has lost. Once, in one of the greatest Cup games played, it took double overtime in 2005 to decide the winner.

Montreal Alouettes' quarterback Anthony Calvillo holds up his daughter Alexia following the Als' victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL Eastern Conference final Saturday in Montreal. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Montreal - Qualifying for the Grey Cup is nothing new for Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Six times now, since 2000, he has made it to the Canadian Football League's championship game.

In four of those five games, Calvillo's team has lost. Once, in one of the greatest Cup games played, it took double overtime in 2005 to decide the winner.

So now, as he nears the twilight of his career, Calvillo understands, despite all he has achieved over 15 seasons - the last 11 with Montreal - he needs another championship on his resume. That it could be achieved at home, at Olympic Stadium, undoubtedly would make it sweeter.

"I knew that from the time I started the season," Calvillo said. "The (Cup) record's there. I want to go out and improve on that. I'm going to sit back and absorb everything.

"It's a huge week for us. I want to go out with a bang. It's going to be an emotional week, with people wondering whether we can win at home."

With the national media falling upon every word, Calvillo this week will be asked about his phenomenal 2008 season; the career-high 43 touchdown passes thrown; the possibility of capturing the second CFL outstanding player award of his career. And, of course, about all he and his wife, Alexia, have endured over the last year; about her courageous battle against cancer.

"I'm thinking where my family has been and I'm taking this to heart," he said. "It's a different emotion and I'm taking things to heart. When I saw my wife on the field with my child (Athena Sonia). . . . Wow, here I am again. I've got to control that emotion all week."

The Als will meet the Calgary Stampeders Sunday at Olympic Stadium. Montreal will be seeking its sixth Cup victory in 16 trips to the championship game and its first since 2002. Similarly, the Stamps have captured five Cups all-time - none since 2001, when they upset Winnipeg at the Big O. Calgary defeated the Als twice this season.

The Als will experience this week what rightfully should have been theirs in 2001, the last time Montreal played host to the Cup. That season, the team jumped off to a 9-2 start. A cup berth seemed inevitable at the time. But the team imploded down the stretch, losing seven consecutive games. Even a coaching change wasn't enough, and Montreal was eliminated at Hamilton in the playoffs' opening round.

The following season, with Don Matthews as head coach, the Als won the Cup, arguably a year too late, at Commonwealth Stadium against the Eskimos. That marked the last season a host team has participated in the title game.

In other words, don't believe Montreal's a lock this weekend simply because it's playing at home. But it should help.

"I remember hiding in my house for two weeks after we were eliminated. I didn't want to see the world," said centre Bryan Chiu.

Chiu, is one of only four players, along with Calvillo, guard Scott Flory and slotback Ben Cahoon, remaining from 2001.

"We've been in so many Grey Cups," he continued. "To come away with another one, with the opportunity to play in your province and town and possibly be Grey Cup champs, that would be a dream come true.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime."

Montreal Gazette

More Grey Cup coverage, page C4

Organizations: Canadian Football League, Montreal Alouettes, Calgary Stampeders Montreal Gazette

Geographic location: Montreal, Olympic Stadium, Winnipeg Commonwealth Stadium

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