CFLs' Armstrong, Anthony back for Posse game

VIVA LAS VEGAS: RETURN IN TIME

August 03, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

Las Vegas is home to Charles Anthony. It's a place where he grew up and went to school, a place where his mother still lives and his friends still gather.

It's just not where he wanted to play professional football.

Anthony, a halfback, could have signed with the expansion Las Vegas Posse this summer, but instead will enter Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night as a member of another first-year organization, the Baltimore CFLs.

Receiver Chris Armstrong will be there, too. Like Anthony, he has ties to the state of Nevada, having spent time in the Posse's training camp. But unlike his Baltimore teammate, he didn't have much choice about staying there.

Armstrong, the third player signed by Las Vegas, was released nearly two weeks into training camp, leading to a tryout with Baltimore and a spot in the starting lineup.

This weekend looms as a homecoming of sorts for both players, though the memories aren't quite as fond for Armstrong, who sat out last year after being cut during preseason by the New England Patriots.

His short stay in Las Vegas wasn't a bitter experience, just somewhat disappointing.

"I thought I was having a good camp, doing everything I thought I needed to do to make the club," he said.

It seems to have worked out for the better. Armstrong learned of the Baltimore franchise while still with the Posse, "and I wanted to come here, but I was already locked in to Las Vegas. So this is actually where I wanted to be," he said.

He also was being reunited with Baltimore quarterback Tracy Ham. They had played together in Edmonton in 1991 and most of 1992, and Ham persuaded coach Don Matthews to give Armstrong a tryout.

A native of Fayetteville, N.C., Armstrong said he feels no resentment toward the Posse and isn't out for revenge Saturday. "They were trying to build a football team and I just wasn't in their plans," he said.

But he added: "What I'm doing now, I'm sure I could have done in Las Vegas."

All the 6-foot-2 slotback has done is lead Baltimore in touchdown receptions with three, including two in a 28-20 season-opening victory in Toronto. For the season, he has 15 catches for a team-leading 281 yards.

He also scored the franchise's first touchdown at Memorial Stadium in a 45-43 exhibition victory over Winnipeg.

Anthony, meanwhile, accounted for Baltimore's last touchdown in its exhibition opener at Shreveport when he returned an interception 35 yards to cap a 33-18 win.

He wanted to sign with three NFL teams, but none would offer enough money or assure him a place on their roster. That led him to the CFL and, most important, to Matthews, his former coach for two seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"I know the system here and they're a great group of coaches," said Anthony, who made a spectacular, one-handed interception in a 40-24 win over Shreveport on July 23. "They're putting together a team that is primed to compete for the championship in its first year. I knew that coming in here."

Anthony, who appeared in 39 games at UNLV and finished with 184 tackles and six interceptions, said he eventually would "love to go back home," though not necessarily to play football. But that decision can wait.

He has a game to get ready for, one that will attract "tons" of friends and family, he said.

And one that will be played in a kind of heat that Anthony said is much different from Baltimore's.

"I told the guys it's going to be hot, triple-digits at night," he said. "Vegas is a dry heat, just like a blow dryer in your face. Here, it's a moist heat that just lays on you and really drains you because you sweat so much."

"This humidity is worse," Armstrong said. "I'd much rather go down there as opposed to being here."

As long as it's for only one game.

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