REILLY’S SPECIAL YEAR DESERVING OF HONOUR
Eskimos quarterback the likely pick to beat out Ray for CFL’s most outstanding player
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.
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.