September 21, 2021

Minne Sotais

Politics Loaded For Bear

McCarty gets nod in time to face former Elks teammates on Labour Day

‘They say, “Once an Elk, always an Elk,” so he’s always going to be a brother in my mind’

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For the first time in his career, Calvin McCarty will face Edmonton’s Canadian Football League team.

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After spending the first 13 seasons of his CFL career in green and gold, the 36-year-old came out of retirement to join the provincial rival Calgary Stampeders partway through training camp.

And the fullback is listed to make his first start in Monday’s Labour Day Classic, against his former team, no less.

“He hasn’t found his way on the field,” Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson said. “I’ve got him working in different spots, in multiple areas where I know he can help our team.

“I envisioned him being on the field by now, we just hadn’t done that yet. He hasn’t gotten frustrated, I know he wants to play. He’s been a great teammate, as you guys know in Edmonton, he does everything right, he works hard. He’s ready now, so I hope to get him on the field.

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“Special teams has been a strength of ours and we know we’ve got a tough group to play, with Edmonton, so that could be an area he tracks on the roster as well as giving us added depth at the tailback and fullback positions.”

McCarty’s contract ran its course with the Elks following the 2019 season, before announcing his retirement from the league this spring. Prior to pulling his cleats off the proverbial hook, he had been coaching high school with the Bellerose Bulldogs.

Edmonton Elks fullback Calvin McCarty carries the ball against the Hamilton Tiger Cats at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Aug. 21, 2015.
Edmonton Elks fullback Calvin McCarty carries the ball against the Hamilton Tiger Cats at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Aug. 21, 2015. Photo by File photo /Postmedia

When he steps onto the gridiron Monday, it will be in a different coloured jersey for the first time in 203 previous games played in the CFL.

And, yes, it will look more than a little odd to his former teammates, especially the one who had played with him the longest.

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“They say, ‘Once an Elk, always an Elk,’ so he’s always going to be a brother in my mind,” said right guard Matt O’Donnell, the longest-serving member of the Elks locker-room. “I don’t pretend to know everyone’s situations in the off-season, maybe he had a change of heart and wanted to come back.

“I can’t even imagine football being taken away and then not being sure if you want to play again. When the opportunity presents itself, he just jumped at it. One last play. One last Friday night lights, something like that. One last glory moment.

“But it’s going to be great to see him. I definitely miss him and I wish he was on our team, but when we go against each other it’s no mercy.”

WINLESS VS. CALGARY

In 11 career games vs. the Stampeders, Elks quarterback Trevor Harris holds a record of 0-9-2, as they remain the only CFL club he has yet to beat.

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And that’s not including the 2018 Grey Cup he lost to them in Edmonton as a member of the Ottawa Redblacks.

“The games in the past don’t have any implications on this game,” Harris said of an eight-game win streak on Labour Day the Stampeders bring into Monday’s game. “We’re excited about it. The Labour Day Classic’s a lot of fun, there’s been some great games between the Green and Gold and the white horse. We’re excited to be a part of the history.

“So, we’re going to go in there, we’re going to come out swinging and I know they will too. They’re starting to play some better football, their defence has been playing great football this year and (Stampeders head coach) Dave Dickenson needs no introduction of how good he is as a play-caller and a head coach with his track record.”

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Of course, sooner or later the law of averages has to kick in.

Doesn’t it?

“I’m really starting to feel like we were playing good football going into B.C. and gaining some confidence and rapport with each other,” Harris said of a 21-16 win over the B.C. Lions prior to getting shut down by COVID-19 last week. “So, hopefully we can pick up right where we left off.

“But I anticipate it being a great game.”

In and out: Malik Clements will start at MLB in place of Keishawn Bierria (COVID protocols), while CB Jonathan Rose, WR Shai Ross, WR Derel Walker, DE Kwaku Boateng and LB Brandon Pittman have all been activated off of COVID protocols for Monday’s game … DB Aaron Grymes, WR Tevaun Smith and WR Armanti Edwards remain on COVID protocols and will not play, along with OL Tomas Jack-Kurdyla (back) and LB Maxime Rouyer (toe).

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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