Michael Calvert is back in his comfort zone and Saturday morning he will be playing for a national championship.
The former standout quarterback with the South Delta Sun Devils will be under centre when the visiting Langley Rams look to cap a memorable 2021 campaign against the London Beefeaters in the Canadian Junior Football final, taking place at Western University’s Western Alumni Stadium.
Calvert is in his first season with the Rams after leaving UBC two years ago. He was initially among the Thunderbirds’ top 2018 recruits, but found himself on the depth chart with two other freshman quarterbacks, behind veteran Michael O’Connor. He spent the next season as a defensive back before departing the program and learning of the opportunity at Langley.
COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 B.C. Junior Football season and Calvert finally made his Rams debut this past summer, playing quarterback for the first time since the 2017 provincial high school playoffs.
“It’s great to be playing a position I love and being surrounded by a cast of great guys and coaches. It’s just a good atmosphere and I’m kind of just being myself again,” he said. “At UBC, it was not really the authentic Michael Calvert where here in Langley I am.”
Coached by former B.C. Lions standout Cory Philpot, the Rams’ playoff run includes grinding out a 7-4 win over the Okanagan Sun in the Cullen Cup B.C. final, then dethroning defending Canadian champion and perennial powerhouse Saskatoon Hilltops 17-14 two weeks ago in Langley.
The hosts rallied on a touchdown pass from Calvert to Derek Best to tie the game, then delivered the game-winning field goal with 2:16 remaining.
Calvert left for London on Thursday feeling as healthy as he has been all year. A hamstring injury delayed the start of his season, then he suffered an MCL strain in his first game that sidelined him again.
“It’s been a year of injuries and changing my style to more of a pocket passing quarterback,” Calvert continued. “It’s definitely a bit of a change at first, but I’m getting used to it and now I’m feeling the best I have all year coming into this game. Hopefully I will be able to break some big runs again like in high school.
“(After three years) it took a little while just getting into a rhythm and confidence back. Going through the reads and progressions. Getting comfortable playing quarterback again.”
Calvert still has another year of eligibility in the under-22 league, however, he is not looking past tomorrow’s game and cherishing the moment in front of him.
“I kind of felt like the window (for this) had passed, but once I got another opportunity at Langley and seen all the talent around me, I felt there was a real chance,” he added.
The Rams roster features two other SDSS grads, offensive lineman Nico Oulette and linebacker Adam Hoegg.