REGINA — Darian Durant says everyone always told him that he couldn’t be a quarterback because — in Durant’s own words — he’s “a short guy, pretty stocky” and doesn’t “have the strongest arm in the world.”
Durant aims to prove everyone wrong by leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a Grey Cup victory Sunday.
“It’ll be the best moment of my life,” says Durant.
“I’ve been through so much in my life. I’ve been told all my life that I couldn’t play quarterback so it’ll be great to be able to accomplish something of that magnitude and to bring it back to the greatest fans in the land.”
Durant helped the green and white get to the championship by throwing for 204 yards and three touchdowns during the CFL West Division final against the Calgary Stampeders. The Riders sent the Stampeders, the defending Grey Cup champs, packing with a final score of 27-17.
The win capped off a season that saw Durant pass for 4,348 yards. He also got the nod to the West Division all-star team.
Durant’s name is already being tossed around with the likes of CFL passing leader Ricky Ray of Edmonton, Calgary’s Henry Burris and Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo, the league’s outstanding player last year and a nominee for the award in 2009. Calvillo, 37, was also the Grey Cup Most Outstanding Player in 2002.
But the Saskatchewan pivot says he doesn’t get caught up in the hype.
“I appreciate being mentioned in the same breath as those guys, but I can’t really accept that because they’ve accomplished more than I’ve ever thought about right now,” says Durant. “I’m just trying to make a name for myself and to take this team to a level that we haven’t been in a long time and to build a dynasty here. That’s my goal.”
Durant says dynasties start with having Western finals at home, going to the Grey Cup and winning championships. This is a start, he says.
“I’m in my first year as a starter and I’m fortunate enough to be able to play in the Grey Cup. This is what you play the game for, this is what I’ve worked all my life for,” says the 27-year-old.
The Roughriders will have to get past the Montreal Alouettes if they want to hoist the Grey Cup. The Alouettes are playing in their second straight Cup final after defeating the B.C. Lions 56-18 in the CFL East final.
Surprisingly, it’s the first time that the Alouettes and Roughriders will meet in the championship.
Veteran Rider defensive back Eddie Davis knows that Saskatchewan will face a tough competitor.
“The biggest challenge I think is going to be Anthony Calvillo,” says Davis. “He makes everything for that team happen. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, he’s always on point and we have to do things to confuse him so he can’t get the ball off to those receivers.”
The Roughriders lost both meetings with the Alouettes this year. Montreal won 43-10 in Week 3 at Regina and 34-25 in Week 8 at home.
Durant says he knows Saskatchewan is going into the game as the underdog and welcomes the role.
“That’s how we’ve been perceived all year. I’m pretty sure no one expected us to be here except the people in the locker-room,” says Durant.
“I just treat every game like it is and that’s just another football game. Of course what’s at stake is a lot greater but at the same time you just still have to play football.”