TSAWWASSEN — Michael Calvert has grown up in the 604, but after his incredible performance Friday night, maybe he should get his own area code.
So how about the 654?
“You never go into a game thinking that you will pass for 654 yards and seven touchdowns,” the South Delta Sun Devils senior quarterback said after establishing what is almost certainly the new standard for single-game passing yardage in B.C. high school football as part of his team’s 85-70 loss in Bellingham to Squalicum High.
“I still don’t know what happened,” he continued. “People congratulated me, but I think people were more in shock that we lost the game. How did we lose after we scored 70 points?”
It’s a performance that not only made Calvert the toast of the B.C. high school football world, it’s one that has made university recruiters even more diligent in their chase of the 6-foot-2, 208-pound slinger.
Well known in the Tsawwassen area, but perhaps not as much so around the rest of the province, Varsity Letters dialed up the 17-year-old pivot earlier this week with the aim of offering a closer look at his life in the game.
NO TIME FOR ICE CREAM
It’s impossible not to call Michael Calvert ‘Mr. 654’ after he lit up the Bellingham skyline Friday at venerable Civic Stadium.
Yet Calvert’s eye-popping numbers are just the latest in a string of notable accomplishments.
Last season, he led B.C. high school senior varsity football with 1,706 yards passing and 21 touchdowns in nine games.
Over the summer, based on his play at the Canada Cup with Team B.C., he was named to the Team Canada roster in advance of this country’s clash with the U.S. in January’s International Bowl.
And over the summer, with South Delta teammates Billy Matwichyna and Doug Jameson, led the B.C. team to gold at the Canadian Under-18 Five-on-Five championships.
And if you trace his history over 10 years in the sport, winning just seems to follow him.
In fact over his final three seasons of community football with the South Delta Rams, the team did not lose a game and captured the provincial title in each of those seasons.
So what does Calvert remember of his first year in the game, as a seven-year-old flag football player in Tsawwassen?
“I remember way back how much everyone on my team wanted to go for ice cream after the games,” begins Calvert. “But being how competitive I was, if we lost, I didn’t want any and I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I hated losing more than I liked winning.”
Clearly, he’s become a catalyst for winning since his arrival at SDSS and that’s likely put him in the mood for a post-game few scoops of Rocky Road of late.
But more than anything, he’s matured into the kind of player who is willing to work to become the best version of himself.
“For a long time I just relied on my athletic ability to run around people and score,” says Calvert. “Then when Grade 10 hit, I really realized that you have to be totally dedicated to do something that you love so much.
“I think that my experience at Canada Cup really showed me how much work a true quarterback puts in and I enjoy playing quarterback. It’s my true passion. My dad played quarterback and I just always wanted to follow I his footsteps.”
Brent Calvert, a 1982 graduate of North Battleford (Sask.) Comprehensive, also happened to play quarterback and he did it alongside Rueben Mayes, one of the greatest running backs in Canadian high school history.
“It was interesting then to watch the recruiting process because we would get allof these scouts come in to watch him,” said Brent Calvert, who not only helped his team to the 1980 provincial championship, but later coached Michael to numerous provincial titles with the South Delta Rams.
MAKING ‘UNREAL’ THE NORM
It’s the measure of a great player that through his own actions, he instills an extra level of confidence in his teammates and coaches.
In the case of Calvert, that is most definitely the case.
“We all know that when he gets hot, he’s very hard to stop,” says Sun Devils’ senior offensive lineman Ethan Prasad. “We all just figure that if we can get him three, four, five seconds, then he’ll make magic happen.”
No one knows Calvert better than Matwichyna and Jameson, the two receivers he has thrown to since those ice cream parlour days.
For his part, Jameson acknowledges just how far Calvert went beyond the norm last week, but stresses that with No. 2 taking the snaps, anything is possible.
“I’ve played with Michael for 10 years now,” begins Jameson. “On Friday, everyone on the other sideline, they were all so amazed. But really, in a lot of ways, it was just a normal day at the office. I know what he can do and how he can just keep doing it over and over again.
“Actually, after all this time, I’d say that it would be pretty weird if he didn’t do something unreal.”
Adds offensive coordinator Mark McDonald: “Michael just makes it all go because he is so elusive, and we just have a whole host of really good receivers.”
TOM TERRIFIC, MICHAEL THE MAGNIFICENT
Calvert is beginning to get more and more attention from university programs, but in the end, he’s not as much concerned what country he plays in, but more-so where he can find his best fit.
“If the U.S. reveals itself to me, then I would look at it, but I am just as glad to stay in my country,” he said. “I am open to anything.”
Calvert’s record-setting day came on the first full weekend of B.C. high school football.
There is so much ahead for both he and the Sun Devils (1-1), who take a No. 3 Triple-A ranking into Saturday’s home opener against the Mission Roadrunners (0-2).
And Calvert is doing his best not to let the moment get the better of him.
“I don’t do a lot with social media,” he says. “My dad tells me not to get a fat head, so I don’t read my press clippings.”
He will, however, read everything about New England quarterback Tom Brady.
“Ever since I can remember, he’s been my favourite player,” Calvert says. “Tom Brady is the ageless wonder. I appreciate how he handles himself in every situation, even outside of football. But even in the Super Bowl, he’s down 28-3 and he rallies them back with his leadership ability. He is living the life.
“I wish I was Tom Brady.”
Actually, maybe for one night Brady wouldn’t mind being Michael Calvert.
Think about it. He could pass for 654 yards and seven touchdowns and then go out for an ice cream. Sounds pretty sweet.
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