MITCHELL GETS STAMP OF AP­PROVAL

Team­mates fig­ure quar­ter­back a shoo-in to be named CFL’s Most Out­stand­ing Player

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - TODD SAEL­HOF tsael­hof @post­media.com

He’s the best player in the CFL.

Which is why Bo Levi Mitchell will be feted Thurs­day night as the league’s Most Out­stand­ing Player.

Bank on it.

The two-man bal­lot be­tween the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers quar­ter­back and his coun­ter­part, Jeremiah Ma­soli from the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats, is re­ally a one-horse race.

Bo Levi Mitchell. MOP. End of story.

Sorry, Jeremiah. “Hands down,” said Stam­ped­ers of­fen­sive line­man Derek Den­nis of his quar­ter­back.

“He’s had a great year, threw for 5,000 yards and didn’t have the same re­ceivers all year, so I think that’s a tes­ta­ment to how spe­cial a player he is. I don’t think any quar­ter­back has had to deal with the ad­ver­sity he’s had with his re­ceivers this year.

“To still put up gaudy num­bers and not have the same re­ceivers to throw to, I think that’s big.”

It’s true that the way Mitchell has re­mained an ef­fec­tive, win­ning quar­ter­back while han­dling the re­volv­ing door at re­ceiver — thanks mostly to in­jury — can’t be over­stated.

It’s the No. 1 rea­son the quar­ter­back will take home the top hon­our from the Shaw CFL Awards.

“For ev­ery­thing that we’ve been through this sea­son — all the in­juries at re­ceiver, all the lost weapons — and to still keep us on course, still fin­ish first in the West and still take us to the Grey Cup, he de­serves it, with­out a doubt,” said Stam­ped­ers re­ceiver DaVaris Daniels.

“He’s the best in the league, he’s at the top of the totem pole,” Daniels con­tin­ued. “He’s set a stan­dard, like (Win­nipeg Blue Bombers QB) Matt Nichols said (after the Western Fi­nal). And ev­ery­body wants to beat out Bo Levi Mitchell.”

Ma­soli won’t do that in Thurs­day’s bal­lot count as de­cided by the Foot­ball Re­porters of Canada.

Stats-wise, Mitchell, 28, com­pleted 356 of 585 passes for 5,124 pass­ing yards and 35 touch­downs against 14 in­ter­cep­tions.

The touch­down count is the high­est of his seven-year CFL ca­reer, and his yards com­piled through the air is the sec­ond high­est of his ca­reer. Back in 2016, he tossed for 5,385 yards in win­ning the MOP Award for the first time.

In 2015, he was the West nom­i­nee for Most Out­stand­ing Player, even though he be­lieved the hon­our should have went to his favourite tar­get on the sea­son, re­ceiver Eric Rogers.

“I don’t dis­agree with him,” Rogers said with a grin Wed­nes­day of a sea­son four years back that saw Rogers fin­ish as the CFL’s lead­ing re­ceiver with 87 catches for 1,448 yards and 10 touch­downs.

“No, Bo had a great year that year, as well. But I had a good year be­cause of him.”

This year, Rogers is lob­by­ing for Mitchell to win the award.

“Just be­cause of ev­ery­thing he’s had to deal with,” Rogers said. “There was a lot of in­juries at the of­fen­sive-line po­si­tion. And deal­ing with all the re­ceivers he had to deal with, it’s prob­a­bly the sec­ond most im­por­tant po­si­tion for a quar­ter­back to be fa­mil­iar with. We were down one or two guys in the West Fi­nal, and he still played his heart out.

“To still put up the num­bers he put up and to lead us to No. 1 in the West, that’s some­thing.”

Yes, Ma­soli rolled up a few more pass­ing yards for 5,209 to­tal and had a stronger com­ple­tion per­cent­age — 66.1 per cent to Mitchell’s 60.9 per cent. He also out­ran the Stam­ped­ers quar­ter­back, 473 yards to 108.

But the Tiger-Cats QB threw for just 28 TDs against 18 INTs.

And the stat that jumps off the page the most when com­par­ing the two sig­nal-call­ers?

Mitchell led his team to 13 wins against five losses for the league’s best record, while Ma­soli was streaky at best to guide the Ti­cats to a sub-par 8-10 cam­paign, mostly against weak East Divi­sion com­pe­ti­tion. The Tiger-Cats limped to the line at year’s end — when it counted most — los­ing five of their last eight games and get­ting shel­lacked 46-27 in the East­ern Fi­nal by the Ot­tawa Red­blacks.

All said, the win­ning lead­er­ship dis­played by Mitchell has been sec­ond to none.

“Oh, man, Bo is a great cap­tain. He’s the leader of the ship,” said Stamps run­ning back Terry Wil­liams. “He makes sure ev­ery­body’s on the same page. He’s a big hype guy — he makes ev­ery­body play fast. Ev­ery­body can rely on him.”

“We play hard for him,” added re­ceiver Chris Matthews. “He’s a real hands-on guy, and I take my hat off to him.”

“Yeah, Bo’s my vote for MOP ev­ery year,” added Stamps mid­dle line­backer Alex Sin­gle­ton. “I think he’s go­ing to win this year, so to win two out of the three years I’ve been here is pretty cool. He’s my room­mate on the road so maybe I should vote against him so I can poke fun at him for the next few days.

“But he’s my MOP whether he wins or loses un­til the day I’m done play­ing foot­ball.”

TODD KOROL/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

His Stam­peder team­mates are singing the praises of quar­ter­back Bo Levi Mitchell, who had 35 touch­down passes this sea­son, threw for more than 5,000 yards, and is up against Hamil­ton’s Jeremiah Ma­soli for the CFL’s Most Out­stand­ing Player Award.

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