REILLY’S SPE­CIAL YEAR DE­SERV­ING OF HON­OUR

Eski­mos quar­ter­back the likely pick to beat out Ray for CFL’s most out­stand­ing player

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - TED WY­MAN

One thing Ricky Ray has not done in 15 CFL sea­sons is win the league’s most out­stand­ing player award.

The Toronto Arg­onauts quar­ter­back has a chance to do it this year — he’s the East Divi­sion nom­i­nee for the third time in his ca­reer — but he looks des­tined to be a run­ner-up again.

Quar­ter­back Mike Reilly of the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos is the other fi­nal­ist for the CFL’s most pres­ti­gious award and he looks to have an edge, al­though a close vote is ex­pected.

Reilly, 32, and Ray, 38, both had bril­liant sea­sons in lead­ing their teams to the play­offs.

Reilly led the league with 5,830 pass­ing yards and tied for first with 30 touch­downs. He also led by a wide mar­gin in deep com­ple­tions, with 39 passes go­ing for more than 30 yards, and threw for more than 300 yards in 12 games. The Eski­mos went 12-6 and will play the Blue Bombers in Win­nipeg Sun­day in the West semi­fi­nal.

Ray was se­cond in the league with 5,546 yards and led the league in com­ple­tions (474) and 300-yard pass­ing games (13). He led the Ar­gos to a 9-9 record and first place in the East Divi­sion. They will host the East fi­nal against ei­ther Ot­tawa or Saskatchewan on Nov. 19.

There is cer­tainly an ar­gu­ment to be made for Ray, who missed one game this sea­son and would have been close to match­ing Reilly’s yardage to­tal had he played.

How­ever, Reilly’s sea­son is just too hard to ig­nore and he’s our pick to win the award.

The league an­nounced all of its divi­sion nom­i­nees Thurs­day for the CFL awards show, which will be held Nov. 23 in Ot­tawa.

Here’s a break­down of all the awards and the nom­i­nees:

Blue Bombers run­ning back An­drew Har­ris, who led the league in rush­ing yards (1,035), re­cep­tions (105) and yards after the catch (687), will go up against Brad Si­nop­oli of the Ot­tawa Red­blacks for the most out­stand­ing Cana­dian award. Si­nop­oli had 91 catches for 1,009 yards this sea­son.

Mid­dle line­backer Alex Sin­gle­ton of the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers will go up against line­backer Kyries He­bert of the Mon­treal Alou­ettes. Sin­gle­ton was the best player on the league’s most dom­i­nant de­fence and fin­ished with 123 tack­les. He­bert had 110 tack­les, a bright spot for a Mon­treal team that went 3-15.

Win­nipeg of­fen­sive tackle Stan­ley Bryant will go up against Toronto cen­tre Sean McEwen for the most out­stand­ing of­fen­sive line­man award. The Bombers al­lowed the fewest quar­ter­back pres­sures in the league (71) and were fifth in sacks al­lowed at 38. Toronto al­lowed 40 sacks and 130 pres­sures.

Roy Finch of the Stamps will

■ face Dion­tae Spencer of the Red­blacks in the most out­stand­ing spe­cial teams player cat­e­gory. In 13 games, Finch had 1,200 yards in punt re­turns (16.4 yards per re­turn) and scored three touch­downs. He also led the league in kick­off re­turn av­er­age yards at 26.8 per re­turn. Spencer was fourth in punt re­turn av­er­age yards (13.3), first in missed field goal re­turn yards (260) and fourth in kick­off re­turn av­er­age yards (24.3). He had two touch­downs, one on a punt re­turn and one on a missed field goal, and set a league record by record­ing 496 all-pur­pose yards in one game.

Run­ning back James Wilder

Jr. of the Ar­gos, who tore up the league in the se­cond half of the sea­son, will go up against re­ceiver Marken Michel of the Stam­ped­ers for the most out­stand­ing rookie award. Wilder only be­came a starter in Week 13, but fin­ished with 872 rush­ing yards and 533 re­ceiv­ing yards along with five touch­downs. He al­ready beat out Hamil­ton de­fen­sive back Richard Leonard, who had seven in­ter­cep­tions, for the East Divi­sion nom­i­na­tion and should win the league award. Michel had 41 catches for 780 yards and three touch­downs. He led the league with an av­er­age of 19 yards per catch.

Cal­gary coach Dave Dick­en­son, ■ who led the Stam­ped­ers to a 13-4-1 record, is the West nom­i­nee for coach of the year. He will go up against Toronto’s Marc Trest­man, who led the Ar­gos to a 9-9 record and first place in the East Divi­sion. Toronto fin­ished 5-13 last sea­son, dead last in the East and out of the play­offs. This should be a very close vote.

MARK TAY­LOR/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Eski­mos quar­ter­back Mike Reilly is the West nom­i­nee and up against the Arg­onauts’ Ricky Ray for the CFL’s most out­stand­ing player award. The win­ner will be an­nounced Nov. 23.

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