Yikes, this Curri's hot
By Alex Chiang
Oliver Curri has slowly but steadily moved up the ranks of the Mustang quarterback parade and now that he's earned the starter's role he's determined to keep it.
When Curri first arrived on the Western football scene in 1994, he was the fourth-string passer on a roster that included Warren Goldie, who led the Mustangs to a Vanier Cup championship that season and another title appearance the following year.
Last season, Jordan Haylor assumed control of the Mustang offence and Curri saw limited playing time in all but two games, yet he still had not earned the starter's role.
"I hadn't heard of Goldie or Haylor before I came and when I first arrived I fully expected to be the starter," Curri said. "It was a long wait, but I got a lot of experience."
Following a long tradition of Mustang elite, Curri, a six-foot- one, 195-pound native of Halifax, is a product of Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, the same high school that produced former Mustang standouts Jamie Bone and Tyrone Williams.
Last Saturday against Windsor, Curri completed 15 of his 28 passes for 198 yards. Although Curri admits that being nervous may be the reason for his slow first half start, head coach Larry Haylor has complete confidence in Curri's abilities.
"I think he knew he was probably going to start this year, so he came into training camp in tremendous shape," Haylor said. "He's always been consistent and throws the ball outside well."
Haylor asserts that although Curri may not be as big as last year's quarterback Jordan Haylor, he is a little faster and has a quicker release.
Don't expect the Mustangs, however, to overload their playbook with quarterback sneaks and options.
"We're not really interested in running option plays," Haylor said. "We simply can't afford an injury, having only two quarterbacks."
As for winning a Vanier Cup this season, Curri held an optimistic disposition.
"I think at Western you always have a chance at winning it all," he said. "We were all pissed off that we lost to a less-talented team [Guelph] last year, so everyone has worked a bit harder."
Curri has developed a good working relationship with his backup, Mike O'Brien, who happens to also perform the punting chores for the Mustangs.
"I enjoy both roles and don't see why I can't continue to do both of them," O'Brien said. "Ollie and I help each other out a lot and we're both taking a lot of snaps in practice with only two quarterbacks on the team."
But for either quarterback to succeed this season, it will depend on how well Western's offensive linemen can control the line of scrimmage. Curri admitted he may not be able to take all of the linemen out to dinner, a pro football tradition.
"Hey, I'm a college student, not Troy Aikman."