Football a Labour of love for ex-Falcon
Okotoks: Foothills grad looking forward to Alberta battle
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014 06:00 am
A former Foothills Falcon wants plenty of hard labour this Monday.
Anthony Parker, a slotback for the Calgary Stampeders, is hoping to see a significant amount of action when the Stamps take on the Edmonton Eskimos in the annual Labour Day Classic at McMahon Stadium.
“To have a big role in the offence in such a big game that has such tradition is a lot of excitement for me,” Parker said. “I just hope I can go out there and do what I can do and have a good performance.”
Parker has enjoyed cameo appearances in two of the last three classics, missing the game in 2012.
“My rookie year (2011) I just played a little bit on specialty teams,” said Parker, who won provincial championships with the Foothills Composite Falcons in 2004 and 2006. “Last year I was on the receiving end of the hit of the day — which was kind of a weird thing. This year I want to be more of a focal point.”
Parker has seen his most action on the football field this season since being drafted by the Stamps in 2011. His stats at the midway point after Calgary beat the Ottawa RedBlacks Sunday have neared his previous season high. He had 13 catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns . His previous best was last season when he snared 21 passes for 217 yards and two TDs.
“I am a more mature player — my understanding of the offence is better than it has been in previous years which has allowed me to be more successful,” the 24-year-old Parker said. “For example in the first game of the year I played the entire game at a position I have never lined up at before (wide out), I was able to do it because I understood the offence.”
Parker has also seen more time on the field due to injuries and the complex import-non-import rule in the CFL that not even a customs agent could figure out.
“Because of the injuries, I was able to perform and show what I am capable of,” he said. “I think it helped me to be more trustworthy in the eyes of the coaching staff.”
Due to the Canada/U.S. ratio and injuries, he has replaced his mentor at times, one of the best to wear the red-and-white, Nik Lewis.
He is always there for that little piece of information to help me out,” Parker said of Lewis. “It was kind of weird to take over for him in that spot given that he was the guy who helped me the whole way.”
He said he is excited about having Lewis back on the field in the near future.
Parker is also settling in with new starter Bo Levi Mitchell.
Parker has seen a quartet of starting quarterbacks in his career, Henry Burris, Kevin Glenn, Drew Tate and now Mitchell.
“Bo and I played a lot of scout team together last year so we developed a little bit of that chemistry then,” Parker said. “That has transferred over to me. I do believe he is comfortable throwing me the ball and for me, he gets me the ball where it is supposed to be.
“For the most part things are going well.”
Things are going particularly well considering Parker pondered leaving the receiver-laden Stamps as a free agent in the offseason.
A frank talk with head coach/GM John Hufnagel, offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson and receivers coach Pete Constanza convinced Parker in February to have a horse on the side of his helmet for two more seasons.
“I told them I wasn’t happy with the situation, that I haven’t had a real opportunity to show what I could do other than a play here or there,” Parker said. “They agreed and said they would try to work me into the offence more.
“So far so good. It was nice to come back with family here and have it be the right decision.”
Now he’s got his sights clearly on the Edmonton Eskimos and performing in front of a likely sold-out loud crowd.
The Eskimos and the Stamps go in to the Classic tied for the first-place in the West Division at 7-1.
“I know both sides are going to be amped up to play — I can see it being a bit of a bloodbath, a hard-hitting match,” Parker said.
“It’s a good thing for football and it’s cool to have that battle of Alberta back at the calibre it is now.”
There may be a few tickets left for the Labour Day game. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. For ticket information go to www.stampeders.com