CALGARY — It will be all business for Scott Flory when he lines up in the Grey Cup game against the team he rooted for as a child.
The all-star guard for the Montreal Alouettes was born and raised in Regina, and was technically a Roughrider for a short spell in 2004 although he never wore the green and white.
And now the 32-year-old will be banging helmets with Roughrider defensive linemen when the teams meet in the Grey Cup game for the first time on Sunday at McMahon Stadium (TSN, 4:30 p.m.).
“How could you not be growing up in Regina?” Flory said Wednesday of growing up a ’Riders fan. “That’s all I knew.
“But I’m an Alouette and I love it. I wear that little lark on my chest proudly.”
Green-clad fans from neighbouring Saskatchewan are expected to invade Calgary to see their team vie for a second Grey Cup in the last three years. With the passion Saskatchewan has for its team, Flory knows they’ll be noisy.
“It’s like the Habs mentality in Regina, that’s how I’d describe it to Montreal,” he said. “The Habs are everything to Montreal, right?
“We won on Sunday, but they trade Guillaume Latendresse and it’s front page of the sports section. We understand that. And that’s the culture in Regina.”
And what abuse can he expect if the Alouettes beat the ’Riders?
“I live permanently in Montreal now so it’s not an issue,” he said.
Flory was a Roughrider briefly in 2004, when he signed with them as a free agent in the off-season, but had a change of heart and was traded back to Montreal before the start of training camp.
“That’s something that is in the past,” was all he’d say about it. “I love the team I’m on now and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
The six-foot-four, 296-pound Flory is in his 11th year with the Alouettes, the team that drafted him 15th overall from the Saskatchewan Huskies in 1998. He has grown into one of the top offensive linemen in the league. The six-time CFL all-star will be up for a second straight Outstanding Lineman nod at the league awards ceremonies on Thursday night.
And he is the anchor on perhaps the league’s best line with veteran centre Bryan Chiu, guard Paul Lambert and young tackles Josh Bourke and Jeff Perrett. They helped Montreal to a league-leading 600-point season.
The Alouettes will be the favourites after their team-record 15-3 season and the 56-18 pasting they laid on the B.C. Lions in the CFL East Division final.
They won both games against Saskatchewan in 2009, pounding the ’Riders 43-10 in Regina in the third game of the season but having to scramble for a 34-25 win in Montreal on Aug. 21.
The Roughriders finished first in the West at 10-7-1 and beat Calgary in their division final.
“It didn’t matter who we played, we were prepared for either team,” said Flory. “But they’re a good team.
“They do some things structurally that we have to be prepared for. They give you a lot of different looks. It’ll be a really good game.”
Quarterback Anthony Calvillo said beating the Saskatchewan defence will start with the front line.
He was sacked four times in their second meeting of the season but still managed to move the ball and pass for three TDs.
“They have so many looks from their defensive linemen,” he said. “Those guys are all over the place.
“It’ll be a real challenge for our O-line, but they did a good job twice in the regular season and I’m sure they’ll do it again here.”
The Alouettes like to pass the ball, but they were especially effective running the ball against Saskatchewan, which was seventh out of eight teams in defending against the run this season.
Tailback Avon Cobourne rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in their first meeting and another 101 yards on 19 attempts in the second game.
Calvillo said the transformation that began last season when Marc Trestman took over as coach started with the offensive line, which went from allowing the most sacks to the least. He brought in more focused blocking schemes to eliminate confusion and breakdowns.
Flory said it helps that it is the second year the same unit is together under the same system.
“We understand the intricacies of the offence and there’s more confidence and trust in each other,” he said.
Flory and Chiu are among five Alouettes who were in the Grey Cup game the last time it was held in Calgary in 2000, a 28-26 loss to B.C.
The others were Calvillo, slotback Ben Cahoon and defensive back Davis Sanchez.
The Alouettes reached the championship game six times between 2000 and 2008, but won only once in 2002.
That gave them a reputation for not being able to win the big ones, despite consistently being at or near the top of the league in the regular season.
Trestman dismissed the notion that losing Grey Cup is a trend.
“This is a different team from the ones that have played Grey Cups in the past,” he said.
The Alouettes avoided a media crush by flying in late Tuesday night, and on Wednesday they opted to forego a formal practice in favour of meetings and a light workout. Trestman said that fits in the team’s normal weekly schedule when preparing to play a game.
Back-up slotback Andrew Hawkins, who broke an ankle in the East final, did not make the trip but is expected in Calgary later this week to watch the game.