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Around the CFL: August 17, 2006

<p>Okay,so we've reached the halfway point of a ho-hum season in the Canadian Football League, and we really don't see anyone emerging as a sure-fire candidate for the outstanding-player award, do we?</p>

Okay,so we've reached the halfway point of a ho-hum season in the Canadian Football League, and we really don't see anyone emerging as a sure-fire candidate for the outstanding-player award, do we?


I mean, Anthony Calvillo has to be the selection in the Eastern Division simply because he is the quarterback of the 7-1 Montreal Alouettes, not because he has been all that superior. If he has any challenger at all in the East, it's his running back, Robert Edwards, who has been impressive carrying the ball as well as catching passes out of the backfield. And Edwards has a chance at surpassing Milt Stegall's record for most touchdowns in a season.


But is there even anyone else at all worth mentioning in the East? Well? Is there?


And what about the Western Division?


The B.C. Lions clearly are the most impressive team of the Western lot, but that doesn't mean you hand the nomination to quarterback Dave Dickenson, does it? He's spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines battling injuries.


B.C. receiver Geroy Simon has emerged with some big plays, toying with a few defensive halfbacks, but can he be described as a dominant figure?


Joffrey Reynolds, the Calgary Stampeders' talented running back, has come up with some top-notch performances and might just be the West's guy when all is said and done.


But two unusual candidates are coming to mindout ofthe West at this point -- a defensive end and a kicker.


I kid you not.


B.C.'s Brent Johnson has easily been the top defensive player in the West, what with the pressure he's applied on quarterbacks and with the uncanny penchant he'sshown for pouncing on fumbles and picking off passes. He's also the league's outstanding Canadian. But would you consider himto bethe West's representative as outstanding player?


And the kicker I'm thinking of is not Paul McCallum, who's been solid but can't even be chosen as his own team's top player. Rather, I'm thinking of second-year kicker Sandro DeAngelis of the Stampeders.


DeAngelis is the league's scoring leader with 109 points. He's spearheaded the Stamps to most of their wins, including an upset victory over Montreal last week, when he connected for two field goals of more than 50 yards with less than a minute left.


DeAngelis has booted 30 field goals (on 36 attempts) in the first half and is on pace to erase the single-season record of 59, set by Dave Ridgway (Saskatchewan Roughriders) in 1990.


DeAngelis also has a shotat setting the record for most points in a season. Lance Chomyc (Toronto Argonauts) established theCFL mark of 236 points in 1991.


• Doug Berry of the Winnipeg Blue Bombersmight or might or might not turn out to be formidable in his first season as a head coach. But we can already tell you he's one of the most boring head coaches in CFL history.


Berry didone of those rapid-fire, 60-secondinterviews the other day with Kim Babij, co-host of The Fabulous Blue Bomber Show on Shaw, which airs exclusively in Winnipeg.


WhenBabij asked him to identify his favourite type of music, Berry said: "Oh, I don't listen to music."


His favouritetelevision show? "Don't watch TV."


Hisfavourite movie: "Can't remember."


And so on and so on.


Made for a fascinating segment.


Not.


• Roy Shivers has never been one to mince words, and he was no different after his not-so-Roughriders turned in another wretched performancein their loss last week to the Eskimos in Edmonton last week.


"You played as if your heads were up your asses," the general manager hollered at his players.


"And your asses will be out of here if you play like that again (this week against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats)."


Thing is, Shivers is on shaky ground himself. The Riders need to make the playoffs and probably get to the Grey Cup game, or close to it, if Shivers has any chance of returning next season.


• Corey Holmes, who starred for the Roughriders last season and was chosen the outstanding player in the West, will return to Regina this weekend as a member of the Ticats, and, despite the fact that he's been mediocre with Hamilton this season, members of the Saskatchewan team think they'd be better off with him than they are without him.


"That was a bad trade Shivers made," a veteran Rider told me this week on the condition that I not identify him.


"Yeah, we got (quarterback Kerry) Joseph out of the deal, but no one here is really sure Joseph is the answer and we knew what Corey was all about. He was great for us, man. He did everything. He could run. He could catch. And he was unbelievable returning the ball on punts.


"The real reason we're playing crappy football this year? We're missing Holmes, man. That's the real reason."


• The Ticats missed Holmes last week, when he chose to fly to Mississippi to be with his expecting wife rather than play in the team's game against the Argos in Hamilton.


The Argos clobbered the Holmes-less Ticats, 20-2. Holmes said he made an agreement with former Hamilton head coach Greg Marshall in training camp that he could leave the team in midseason so that he could be on hand when his wife gave birth.


"Football," Holmes said the other day, "is going to leave me before my family is."


One problem -- his wife didn't give birth last week. As of Thursday, she's still expecting. And that isn't preventing Holmes from returning to Regina for this weekend's game.



• Wally Buono isn't really a cocky chap, but he's always confident and, after his team thrashed the Blue Bombers 32-5 in Winnipeg last week, the Lions' head coach said he expects to be back in Winnipeg again this season.

For the Grey Cup game.


• The Lions could have crushed the Bombers by even more points were it not for a Jason Clermont touchdown that was taken off the board because a mysterious whistle-- likely from the crowd -- was heard by the officials during the play.


The Lions wound up settling for a field goal and there was no penalty against the Bombers.





• Although they're not scoring an abundance of points (who is in the CFL?), the Als have what appears to be their most balanced attack since the days of Tracy Ham and Mike Pringle, which largely explains why they're 7-1.

But that doesn't mean Montreal head coach Don Matthews can't be his usual, nasty self.


Late in their loss to Calgary last week, when the Als were still ahead in the game, Matthews lost his cool and threw a tantrum at Montreal kicker Damon Duvall, who had punted a ball into the Stamps' end zone instead of burying them deep in their own territory with a coughin-corner shot.


Matthews turned out to be right because, starting with decent field position, the Stamps were able to mount their comeback.


What's interesting aboutthe tantrumis that Duvall is the son-in-law of Matthews' boss and greatest supporter, club president Larry Smith.



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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