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Around the CFL: July 17, 2006

<p>There was a remarkable scene at the Toronto Argonauts' practice site in Mississauga on Monday, and it had members of the team buzzing in amazement.</p>

There was aremarkable scene at the Toronto Argonauts' practice site in Mississauga on Monday, and it had members of the team buzzing in amazement.


Sources told The CFL Report that Euan Crisp, a 19-year-old Torontonian who recently received a full-tuition scholarship to kick next year at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick,outshonethe Argos'sure-footedveteran, Noel Prefontaine, during a field-goaldrill that lasted for close to half an hour.


Accompanied by his mentor,former CFL kicking legend Hank Ilesic, Crisp split the uprightsfrom both hashmarks and between them on all his field-goal attempts, all from 30 to 35 yards. He also drilled several right through the end zone, prompting expressions of disbelief from Prefontaine.


"He'll be taking my job soon," Prefontaine told Ilesic.


Ilesic, however, disagreed, saying Crisp is destined for the higher-paying NFL.


Crisp is quite a sight. He's a stringbean of a kid, packing about 215 pounds on a 6-foot-7 frame -- and he may still be growing.





• So here's how the CFL's new video-replay system is going:


After the first 14 challenges by CFL coaches, six were upheld and six were overturned by referees. Two were not reviewable, meaningsome coaches still aren't sure what can and what can't be challenged.



George Black, the CFL's officiating supervisor, held a conference call with media types Monday to let us know that he believes the system is proving to be an asset to the league.


"I think it's going well," he said. "We are learning every week... I believe it's helping us to get some calls correct... TV replays can offer us angles that the officials don't always see."





• Black also suggested that far more penalties are being called on kick returns this season because of rule changes.


After the first four weeks last season, 11 returns were wiped out by illegal-blocking penalties. After the first four weeks this season, 29 were erased by such penalties.


Black explained that, in the past, illegal blocks were called only when players in punt coverage were hit in the back. This year, the rules were changed so that illegal blocks also are called when players are hit in the side.


"Iforewarned the coaches that this (an increase in penalties) is a distinct possibility and we could be bringing back more returns, and this is exactly what's happened," Black said. "This is critically the issue at play."


As I've pointed out in my York Report column in Metro newspapers on Tuesday, nine punts, kickoffs and missed field goals were returned for touchdowns last year at this time. None has been returned this year, and it's clearly reducing the CFL's entertainment value.





• I reported in The York Report last week that the B.C. Lions complained to the CFL about the Edmonton Eskimos, who in sneaky fashion watered their natural-grass field even though there were storms in the city.


Well, it turns out thatLionshead coach Wally Buono was astute enough before his team's road trip to Edmonton to sense the Eskimos would do this, and so he made his players practice on a watered-down field in B.C.


Didn't help the Lions, who suffered a bad second-half collapse and lost to the Eskimos.


They've been dreadful in second halves this year, incidentally -- wet fields or not.





• The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were a better team last week and won their first game of the season, downing the Calgary Stampeders 20-17 on a last-play field goal.


Did Ron Lancaster have anything to do with the outcome?


Lancaster returned to the Ticats' coaching position after the firing of Greg Marshall. The Ticats were 0-4 this season under Marshall.


"He (Lancaster) talked to us before the game and said he would get rid of any player who didn't play well," one of the Ticats told me. "I guess that washis way of motivating us."





• Camouflaged by the Ticats' victory over Calgary was a remarkable accomplishment by Hamilton receiver Terry Vaughn, who caught 10 passes and leapfrogged over Darren Flutie to become the leadingreceiver (973) in CFL history.


Vaughn is a future Hall of Famer, but he's also underrated. Not only does he own the record for most CFL catches, but he also has the most 1,000-yard seasons receiving,he's never missed the playoffs in his illustrious, 12-year career and his overall regular-season record is 121-82.


What makes him proudest?


"That I have always been associated with winning," he told me. "I have always had a hand in winning football games for my respective teams."


Vaughn said he's especially proud of his 1,000-yard streak.


Both the 1,000-yard streak and thereceptions record "demonstrate durability and the ability to make plays," Vaughn said. "I think the1,000 yards consecutively might be more difficult to do."


Vaughn was a highly touted baseball prospectas a teenager and was drafted by the New York Yankees but chose to attend the University of Arizona on a football scholarship.


Does he have any regrets about a career in the CFL instead of in baseball?


"Inbaseball," he said, "you can’t hit anyone. I love the contact in football. Also, the camaraderie in the locker room is completely different.


"I believe I would have played in the major leagues. I have several friends who play in the major leagues that I played with and I was considered a better prospect than them."





• Strange but true:


The Montreal Alouettes have given up only four points in second halves all season (four games).


This explains why they're undefeated because, truth is, quarterback Anthony Calvillo and his offensive teammates have not exactly been clicking on all cylinders.





Message from Marty York:



After about three decades of covering the CFL in newspapers, magazines, on national television and on radio, the folks who run Metro newspapers have given me the opportunity to report on the league in a new and efficient way -- online, right here at

www.metronews.ca

. Here, I will have the space and freedom to cover the league the way that will best serve you. My reports will be updated at least twice a week and will include information you're not likely to find elsewhere. I will also give you my weekly CFL picks. And I welcome email from CFL fans -- send them to

marty.york@metronews.ca

. I'll publish some from time to time. I'm very excited about this venture, and I hope you will be, too.









 
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