What will the first Philpot vs. Philpot matchup look like?

Alouettes receiver Tyson Philpot has suited up for hundreds of football games throughout his life but Saturday’s home date against the Calgary Stampeders will be different because it’ll be the first time that he’ll get to suit up against his identical twin, Jalen.

Both brothers have been playing organized football since the age of six when they played for the same flag team in North Delta, British Columbia.

“There’s definitely excitement,” Tyson said with a grin. “It’s the first time we’ll be playing against each other in a competitive league like the CFL. It’s exciting, and I think it’s going to be a cool experience to see him on the other sideline. There’s a lot of respect there. We’re both hoping to go out there, do our thing and have great games. At the end of the day, I want to win, so he can’t do too well (laughs).”

The Philpot boys grew up the way many twin boys do. They were loud, competitive, energetic and they were dressed in the same clothing but in different colours. Tyson believes that he was the quieter and more serious one of the two while Jalen was more of the class clown, but their mother, Colleen Purcell, disputed that claim.

Tyson Philpot (6), Colleen Purcell, Jalen Philpot (5) at the B.C. High School football awards in 2017

“I think they were pretty equal when it comes to that,” Purcell said. “They were both very energetic and didn’t listen very well (laughs). We were always busy and always going (somewhere) to keep them entertained. They kept each other entertained, being twins, but we were always up to something to keep them going. We’d come home and they would just crash because they were so tired from whatever it was we were doing. They were pretty similar.”

The brothers, obviously, have a tight bond. They attended the University of Calgary together, but even they realized that once they got to the professional level, they were probably going to be apart. Both were considered top prospects heading into the 2022 CFL Draft. Jalen ended up being selected fifth overall by Calgary while Tyson was picked ninth by the Alouettes.

Although being away from family is never easy, Tyson admitted that it’s helped people see him as more of an individual instead of one of the twins. That’s been important for the 23-year-old’s personal growth as a player and person.

“Everyone asks me that, and I can’t lie, I love it,” the Als receiver said. “Before, people always used to ask me where my brother was if I showed up somewhere alone, or they wanted to know where the twins were. Now, I’m known as Tyson, not just the twin. For my personal identity, that’s been nice. I definitely miss playing on the same field as him. It was always cool to hear: ‘the Philpots are attacking them today – the one-two combo’. But it’s also cool to make a name for myself.”

Since coming into the league, Tyson put up 127 yards in the 2022 East Division Final in Toronto, he also caught the game-winning touchdown in last year’s Grey Cup. Oh, and he’s currently second in the CFL in receiving yards.

Unfortunately for Jalen, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. The Stampeders receiver missed last season after suffering a major hamstring injury during the off-season. He also missed four games during his rookie season – one of which came in Week 1 when the Stamps hosted the Als at McMahon Stadium. But Jalen shouldn’t be written off either. He’s explosive and dynamic with the ball in his hands, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he developed into a star sooner than later.

“To see the game get taken from him and to see how excited he is to be back and how hard he worked to get back into the position he is now is awesome for me to see,” Tyson said on Wednesday. “He knows I’m always in his corner. I was giving him lots of support the whole time and letting him know once he’s ready that he was going to be back to being the same Jalen he was. He’s going to put the league on notice because I think they’ve forgotten a bit about him and what he did to deserve to be drafted fifth overall.”

They won’t be in the same corner on Saturday night though. It might be strange for their families, most of whom will be in attendance, to see them play against each other, but it could be strange for the two individuals involved as well. Both Tyson and Jalen used to do their pregame warmup on the field together at the same time. If you show up early enough to the game, you’ll be able to watch both players go through the same warmup but on different ends of the field.

“I don’t know (if it’ll be weird) because it’s the first time they’ll play against each other,” Purcell, who brought both of her sons’ jerseys on the trip to Montreal with her. “I don’t really know what to expect, to be honest.”

Purcell admits that she would be a lot more nervous if her sons were going head-to-head on the field at the same time. Because both are receivers, that won’t be the case.

So, what’s the ideal result for a mom cheering for both teams?

“Regardless of what game I’m watching, I just want a good game,” the mother of three said.

“There’s always going to be a winner and always going to be a loser. We just hope that all the players do their best and the outcome is what it is.”

As for Tyson, becoming a star out East in a different market than his brother was clearly important to him, but don’t get it twisted, if the two brothers could reunite down the road, he wouldn’t be opposed to that one bit.

“It would be a dream come true to get to play at the pro level on the same team,” he said. “Like I said before, being able to attack defenders as a one-two punch and just see the Philpot takeover in a game would be pretty cool. I think the fans would like to see that too. So, yeah, maybe one day, I could see that happening.”

For now, the Philpot brothers will have to continue to try to out-do each other when their respective offences step on the field, and it will all get going on Saturday night at the base of Mount Royal with their closest family and friends watching.

“It’s about time,” Tyson, who has 430 receiving yards and four touchdowns this season, said.

“This is awesome! It’s great for Canadian football. It shows the young guys that no matter where you come from, you can do it, especially as brothers.”