The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced their team awards winners on Sunday as selected by local members of the media and head coach Kent Austin. Here are the winners.
Most Outstanding Player: Zach Collaros, quarterback
Collaros led the team to to an 8-3 record before suffering season-ending injury on Sept. 19. Still, the numbers are impressive: 3,376 yards (4th in the CFL), 25 touchdowns (third) and a 70.2 per cent completion percentage (second.) Collaros also led the league in quarterback efficiency (113.7) and touchdown-interception ratio (3.1).
Collaros quote: “I didn’t finish all 18 games so… I’m just very bitter. It sucks. I think about the injury a lot but I can’t change it.”
Austin quote: “I think he was easily the best player at the time [of his injury.] If you look at his body of work, he’s still deserving of our nomination.”
Chances of winning East Division award: zero, just based on games played.
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Simoni Lawrence, linebacker
Another solid all-around year for Lawrence who won the award last season while also earning an East Division All-Star nod. He was second on the team with 76 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Also brings leadership and athleticism to one the CFL’s top defensive units.
Lawrence quote: “Awards are good but this is the ultimate team game. But it’s good to be recognized and my mom’s going to love and put it in her scrapbook.”
Austin quote: “Simoni produces, he makes big plays at the right time and I’m proud of the season that he’s had.”
Chances of winning East Division award: Good. Lawrence is well-known throughout the CFL and that may help overcome the lack of an eye-popping single stat. Montreal’s Winston Venable (105 tackles) likely the strongest competition.
Most Outstanding Canadian: Ted Laurent, defensive tackle
Another repeat from last year when he was the East Division’s top Canuck. His numbers are down slightly from last season – from eight sacks to three – but his willingness and ability to take on double teams has allowed his defensive mates to flourish.
Laurent quote: “There’s a lot of sacrifice I have to do so the other guys can shine but as long as my peers know what I’m doing, I’m cool with that.”
Austin quote: “He’s been just as effective, sometimes that effectiveness doesn’t show up in the numbers. But we understand the quality football player that he is.”
Chances of winning East Division award: Unlikely. Ottawa receiver Brad Sinopoli is the consensus favourite.
Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Mike Filer
Filer has gone from scrap heap pick up – he was signed as a free agent after being released from Winnipeg – to becoming the team’s top lineman. He’s been durable, too: he was the only Ticats offensive player to start every game this season.
Filer quote: “Being young, being wild and being free, you want to get out there and play as much as you can.”
Austin quote: “Just a guy that has worked unbelievably hard to improve his game, to improve himself physically. I’m just really proud of his development. He’s had a really good year.”
Chances of winning East Division award: Decent. But Redblack Sir Vincent Rogers has been just as durable and plays tackle, often an advantage at awards season.
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Brandon Banks, return man.
Speedy B registered a league-high four touchdown returns while posting 1,659 kick return yards, good enough for third in the CFL (his seven returns of more than 30 yards is also tops.) He’s also been remarkably durable for a guy that’s listed at just 5-foo7, 153 pounds, playing in every game this season.
Banks quote: “Staying healthy and being able to contribute every game was my biggest thing and just go out there and continue making plays.”
Austin quote: “He comes to play every week. He has the ability to flip the field or put the ball into the end zone from anywhere.”
Chances of winning East Division award: Not great. Montreal’s Stefan Logan has 2,360 kick return yards, two touchdowns and a higher punt return average.
Most Outstanding Rookie: Terrence Toliver, receiver
The only unanimous selection among the award winners Toliver is third on the team in receiving with 679 yards despite having missed the last four games due to injury. He’s also tied for the team lead with six touchdown catches.
Tolliver quote: “I might be older than some rookies but I kinda feel like one because it was a big adjustment coming from down south to the CFL. But it’s great.”
Austin quote: “He became the quality player that we had hoped.”
Chances of winning East Division award: Better if he’d stayed healthy. Toronto’s Vidal Hazelton has 120 yards more than Tolliver and the same number of TD catches.