CFL ties run deep for Vanier Cup combatants
Calgary Dinos and Montreal Carabins have strong connections to pro league
The Calgary Dinos will play the Montreal Carabins for the Vanier Cup this Saturday at TELUS-Université Laval Stadium in Quebec City, and there are deep ties to the Canadian Football League on both sidelines.
Dinos head coach Wayne Harris Jr. played a season with the Calgary Stampeders and is the son of the late Wayne Sr., an all-star linebacker with the Stampeders in the 1960s and early 1970s. Carabins counterpart Danny Maciocia won the Grey Cup as head coach for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2005.
Macocia also guided the Carabins to a Vanier Cup championship in 2014, making the 52-year-old Montreal native the only head coach to win both national football championships.
Maciocia's assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach is CFL Hall of Famer Anthony Calvillo, in his first season with the team. The three-time Grey Cup champion and Most Outstanding Player worked with Maciocia as members of the Alouettes in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Dinos feature twin receivers Jalen and Tyson Philpot, whose father is former CFL running back Cory Philpot. In 1994, Philpot rushed for 1,451 yards and 13 touchdowns on the B.C. Lions' Grey Cup-winning team. The following season, Philpot — nicknamed "Quick Six" for his ankle-breaking moves and ability to score touchdowns in a flash — scored a then-record 22 total touchdowns.
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Tyson was USports rookie of the year in 2018, while this season Jalen led the Dinos in receiving yards and touchdown receptions during the regular season. Jalen produced 130 yards on seven catches and one touchdown to lift Calgary over McMaster in Saturday's Mitchell Bowl, while Tyson had 119 yards on seven touches, including a dazzling 64-yard gain in which he, like his dad used to, broke multiple tackles and spun out of a tackle in highlight reel fashion.
Dinos quarterback Adam Sinagra is the man feeding the ball to the Philpots and other targets such as Hunter Karl, who was selected by the Edmonton Eskimos in this year's CFL draft. Sinagra was the 2018 Hec Crighton Trophy winner after throwing for a single-season record 3,233 yards. Even though Calgary has implemented a more balanced offensive approach this season, Sinagra is still viewed as the best passer in the country.
Sinagra is the third Dinos QB to win the Hec Crighton Trophy after Erik Glavic in 2009 and Andrew Buckley in both 2014 and 2015. However, neither of those signal callers won the national title trophy while at Calgary. The Dinos' last Vanier victory came 24 years ago in 1995 when star receiver Don Blair captured both the Hec Crighton and Vanier Cup.
Montreal's first USports banner came in 2014 under Maciocia. The Carabins fell just short of posting back-to-back victories in 2015 when the University of British Columbia kicked a last-second field goal to take the prize.
Saturday's Vanier Cup will be live streamed at CBCSports.ca starting at 1 p.m. ET.
Justin Dunk is a USports football analyst.