March 20, 2006

TD Atlantic returns to Halifax

By Josh Bell-Webster,

One unique game. Two different teams. Same great excitement.

Touchdown Atlantic returns to Huskies Stadium in Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 3 featuring two of the CFL's newest rivals.

The Ottawa Renegades may only be entering their fifth season in the CFL, but they often play their best football against the Montreal Alouettes. In one of the great comebacks of the 2005 season, the Renegades rallied from 23 points down to defeat the Alouettes 39-36 in overtime on Canada Day. Quarterback Kerry Joseph set off the early fireworks in the nation's capital with his two rushing touchdowns and one TD pass in the fourth quarter.

Joseph made history last year, becoming just the third CFL quarterback ever to rush for 1,000 yards, joining Damon Allen and Tracy Ham (who accomplished the milestone twice). It was only the third time that a quarterback rushed for 1,000 yards and threw for 4,000.

Joseph's favourite targets are back for another year in Ottawa. Jason Armstead had over 1,300 receiving yards in just his second CFL season. Veteran Yo Murphy is one year removed from reaching four digits himself.

Joseph's counterpart is chasing history of his own. Anthony Calvillo, the Alouettes all-time leading passer with 44,728 yards, is slowly moving up the charts on the all-time CFL list. Calvillo currently sits fourth, and needs 5,272 yards to reach 50,000. He will need to be aware of Ottawa's Korey Banks, however, as he intercepted a season-high 10 passes last year.

The Alouettes have had four 1,000-yard receivers in each of the past two seasons, the first time this feat has been accomplished in CFL history. Saint Mary's grad Dave Stala was on the receiving end on Calvillo's throws many times in 2005, catching 83 passes for 1,037 yards.

Other Saint Mary's products returning to the field they once called home include Paul Archer and Bart Szarzynski, both of the Alouettes.

Montreal is led by head coach Don Matthews, who knows a thing or two about winning. His record 223 regular season victories have spanned six provinces and two countries. A win in Atlantic Canada would mark another highlight in his illustrious career.

Matthews, entering his 21st season as a head coach, will be facing an individual making his debut at the helm of a CFL team. John Jenkins, a former assistant under Matthews, will be leading Ottawa for the first time in Halifax.

After narrowly losing the Grey Cup in overtime in their last game, the Alouettes would love to start 2006 on a winning note by claiming the Mariners Cup. The Renegades will be looking to kick start their season after a poor finish in 2005.

If you think Touchdown Atlantic will be just another game for these guys, think again.