Marc-Antoine Dequoy had a rather atypical career in football. Today he is firmly in the saddle with the Alouettes. It’s like despite the obstacles he’s had to overcome along the way, there’s a place waiting for him.
In Sunday’s eastern semi-final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, memories of his youth will come flooding back as he gazes at his father at Percival-Molson Stadium.
As a child, he attended matches along with his father, who had season tickets in the south stand behind the Alouettes bench. Mr. Dequoy will take his place near this section on Sunday.
A dream becomes true
The Alouettes have always been part of the family.
“I have photos where you see me at training camp when I was little,” says Marc-Antoine.
“Playing for the Alouettes today and being in the starting XI is a dream come true. »
Dequoy started playing soccer at the age of 5. He worked his way up to the end of high school.
Then, in his first year at Cégep André-Laurendeau, he put his favorite sport aside.
“I thought I didn’t like football anymore,” he says.
“I’ve been playing since I was 5 and didn’t know if it was out of habit or out of passion. This year of inactivity reignited my passion for football. »
The following year, Dequoy went to Cégep Montmorency, where he got the chance to show off his skills.
He only played five games, but that was enough for his coach Paul Eddy Saint-Vilien, who joined the Université de Montréal Carabins coaching staff the following season, recommending him to Danny Maciocia.
“Marc-Antoine didn’t look like most college players,” recalled the Alouettes head coach.
“He was a lean man with great speed. But he didn’t have a great football background. In college he learned the position of defense attorney. »
That’s probably the reason why Dequoy repeated two or three times in the conversation that he wasn’t known at the time.
“We saw the athlete in him,” Maciocia continues.
“We said we would bring him to our house and work with him. We said: all the better if it works.
“But if we had been asked if he was where he is today, we probably would have said no. But we saw the potential and he did the rest. »
His first season with the Carabins brought his share of trouble.
“We spent our time changing positions,” says Maciocia.
“After his first year I told my assistants that we would invest in him, we would play him in a position, we would show him patience and confidence. »
Dequoy became a cornerback, and that’s where his career took off.
“I went from being an obscure player to a player who was voted into the Canadian University All-Star team,” he continues.
“My path may seem atypical, but in a way we all have irregular paths. »
Last year, in his first pro season, the Alouettes made him their safety.
This also required an adjustment.
“When I was a cornerback, I stayed on the periphery,” he explains.
“There I work in the deep zones. The tracking angles are different. »
He benefits from his speed. Viewers may have noticed that Dequoy shines from all games.
“Like I said, he’s still in the picture!” starts Maciocia.
“There aren’t many players who run as fast as he does. He can play the ball from 6 feet, 3 inches like a wide receiver. It covers a lot of ground.
“Sometimes when the opponent throws the ball and we see it from the sidelines, we think we’ve made it. But Marc-Antoine is still there. He’s like a hockey goalie. He is the last line of defense.
“He’s a good player and I’m sure he’ll get even better in the years to come. »
time for revenge
Dequoy, 28, has just been named Canadian Player of the Year by the Alouettes.
“I’m very happy about that, but when you play a team sport, the first goal is to win a championship,” he says.
“But it’s always nice to see that your work is recognized, especially among the professionals. I hope it carries over to the field for Sunday’s game. »
Dequoy respects the Tiger-Cats, but he wants to win at all costs.
“We lost to them in the semifinals last year,” he recalls.
“We feel like we didn’t do our job. We’re really taking Sunday’s game very seriously. We are driven by a sense of vengeance. »
The Alouettes have won two of their three games against the Tiger-Cats this season, but results have been close.
Both teams are playing better than in the first half of the season, with the Alouettes holding six wins and three losses in the second half of the season.
The Tiger-Cats have won their last four encounters.
Thought of mom
Finally, Dequoy will remember his mother, who passed away in September.
“His departure was very difficult to accept and still is,” he says.
“My mother was my biggest fan. I play for her, it’s my way of honoring her. »