Saturday's rematch between the B.C. Lions and the Montreal Alouettes is shaping up as a tale of two quarterbacks — and the teams' different approaches to the game.
B.C. signal-caller Travis Lulay, who garnered the CFL Most Outstanding Player award in 2011, feels an onus to play well simply because he is going up against Als counterpart Anthony Calvillo, who took the honour the year before.
"Just as an offence, you're playing against a team that you know is capable of putting points on the board," said Lulay after his team's final walkthrough Friday at B.C. Place. "So, from the get-go, that puts pressure on you to put points on the board early."
The Lions (6-3) are looking to avenge last weekend's 30-25 loss in Montreal. Lulay and the rest of the Lions stressed the importance of the contest as the second half of the season begins.
Noting that post-Labour Day games make the so-called real season, Lulay, who likes to study film of Calvillo and Montreal's talented offence before games, said certain games represent important moments — and this is one of them.
"The moment we got back on that flight leaving Montreal, we knew that this was an important week and this was a big game... You can feel that sense of urgency in the locker-room," said Lulay.
The Als prevailed after Lulay could not connect with Arland Bruce on a would-be touchdown pass on B.C.'s final possession of the game. Lulay hopes to have another shot to decide the outcome when the game is on the line.
The West Division-leading Lions are tied with Calgary after the Stampeders downed the Edmonton Eskimos 20-18 on Friday.
The East Division-leading Als, also 6-3, have the same tenuous two-point advantage over the Toronto Argonauts.
B.C. coach Mike Benevides says he expects nothing short of outstanding for Saturday's game. "It's going to be one of those games that we're going to be talking about, because you've got the best against the best," said Benevides.
So were the Als also emphasizing a game that may decide the overall top spot in the league?
Not so much. In fact, not at all.
Calvillo and coach Marc Trestman were in one-game-at-a-time mode. The Montreal quarterback was not gearing himself up to outperfom Lulay either.
"I never look into (the opposing quarterback) when I step on the field," said Calvillo at the team's downtown hotel. "I don't try to get myself too hyped up, whether I'm playing guys like Travis Lulay, Ricky Ray [of the Argos] or Henry Burris [of Hamilton]. That's just not part of who I am. I'm going to play my type of game, no matter what the case might be."
But Montreal's decade-long poor record in Vancouver was on Calvillo's mind. The Als have just one win (2010) in the past 11 West Coast meetings between the teams. This game will be the first afternoon contest between the clubs in Vancouver since Western and Eastern teams commenced interlocking play in 1961, and Calvillo hopes the early start makes a difference.
Calvillo said he and the Als have had trouble adjusting to the three-hour time difference when travelling west. He says he was used to going to bed when the evening games kicked off in the west.
Although he also admitted the Als have run out of excuses" about their poor record in Vancouver.
"It's been a struggle, but we're hoping to put that past us this year," he said.