“I think my wife might sign me up for a new ballet class or something,” Jeff Perrett jokes about being thrown for a Rocky Horror Time Warp less than 48 hours after Halloween.
The Als’ sturdy right tackle will take a jump to the left Saturday night in the Lions’ Den to plug the gap left by a season-ending injury to Montreal’s Outstanding Lineman nominee Josh Bourke.
Fancy footwork required on so many issues, with so little time before the playoffs. Don’t even go there trying to ask Coach Trestman “What if Winnipeg...”
That the Als’ hopes to host the Eastern Final could be blindsided even before they hit the field is all the more ironic because the man protecting the blindside can’t be on the field.
Josh Bourke was downcast on the day he learned of his Outstanding Lineman nomination, taking some consolation in the fact he would do all he could to ease Jeff Perrett’s switch from right to left tackle and rookie Jeraill McCuller settle in for his 2nd CFL start.
“It’s everything basically backwards,” points out Perrett, who many around the league would have been just as worthy a choice for the Als’ nomination. “I played the left side back in 2008 my first 3 games, so just like riding a bicycle I guess.”
“It’s nice to know that the coaches have confidence in me moving over there.”
“I’ll sit in meetings, I’ll help coach’em up,” Bourke said, the former Green Bay Packer trying his best to sound upbeat while Anthony Calvillo struck reassuring tones about a quarterback never being concerned about his protection and having to assume the big men up front will get their jobs done.
Alouette MOP nominee for the 9th time Anthony Calvillo (he’s 3-3 when advancing to the Grey Cup week festivities) believes he has the respect of his teammates and opponents now more than ever. But the fans will always put any failure to get back to Grey Cup on his shoulders.
“It’s been a crazy year. It could have gone to many different guys on this team. Jamel had an excellent year. Whitaker had an excellent, excellent year. It could have gone to any one of those guys.”
“This whole year has been tough—you just can’t afford to make too many mistakes. We’ve had 5 or 6 guys making 2 or 3 mistakes each, myself included, and we just can’t have that. We need to start getting ourselves over the edge and that starts this Saturday.”
All the trickier in the precision offense of Air Trestman with first year starter Brandon London, a former New York Giant who spent last fall on the Als’ practise roster, starting in place of the injured Kerry Watkins and Eric Deslauriers starting when the Als go 5-R.
Should any other receivers fall to injury, rookie Bo Bowling may be next in line. He’s heard all the cynical jokes about being a “possession receiver” back in his college days at Oklahoma State.
Bowling spent 15 days in the appropriately named Payne County Jail and pleaded 3 felony charges including possession down to a misdemeanour. He’s been over-paying his debt to society for 2 years.
He’s intent on beating the returned returner Tim Mapray to be the 3rd kick-return specialist in 3 weeks to try to hold onto the job.
His voice broke with emotion as he spoke to me about what fielding that opening kickoff in BC would mean to him.
“I made mistakes in the past and football is the reason I got over it. Oh man, I get emotional thinking about it. This will be for me, but for my father and my coach who stood up for me.”
So no scoreboard watching Saturday, Als--unless you’re Brian Ridgeway.
“I won’t bother looking at the Blue Bombers’ score. Just the Warriors game.”
The Als’ special teams warrior is a graduate of and spring guest coach at Grand Prairie Composite High School, the Warriors who’ve had their hearts broken and won the hearts of Canada through tragic inspiration.
“Warriors and our community, we say-- ‘We gotta do this, we’re gonna do this together. ‘ No Hollywood ending’s guaranteed for anyone. The bottom line is these young kids have lost really close friends and they need health and support, to mourn properly and keep the memory of their friends alive.”