With the Hamilton Tiger-Cats season officially half over, it’s time to dole out some make-believe hardware: the mid-season Most Outstanding Player Awards. And the winners are…
Most Outstanding Player: Brandon Banks, returner / receiver
This award is usually the domain of a dominant offensive player with gaudy stats but the Ticats don’t really have one of those at the moment. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli had decent numbers in his six starts and Zach Collaros has posted spectacular ones in his three – and may do enough to win this award if he remains healthy – but neither are chart toppers at the moment. Hamilton also has four receivers in the top-16 in receiving yards but only one in the top-10 (Luke Tasker at No. 9.)
Meanwhile, “Speedy B” is first in the CFL in combined yards with 1,580 and is tied for third in the CFL in touchdowns with five. He’s only got 16 catches but he makes them count – two have gone for touchdowns and his 15.7 yard average is gaudy.
Honourable mentions: Simoni Lawrence, Collaros, Tasker.
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Simoni Lawrence, linebacker
Lawrence won the East Division edition of this award last season and has followed that up with another outstanding all around campaign. He’s sixth in the league in tackles (54) but he also has stats in every other category the CFL tracks: sacks (3), interceptions (1), fumble recoveries (3), forced fumbles (1), pass knockdowns (1), tackles for a loss (3.) No other player in the league can say that.
But numbers only tell part of the story with Lawrence: his athleticism makes him incredibly versatile and he’s also one of the Ticats team captains and leaders.
Honourable mentions: Linebacker Larry Dean, defensive tackle Ted Laurent, safety Courtney Stephen.
Most Outstanding Canadian: Andy Fantuz, receiver
This a close race between Fantuz (50 catches, 557 yards, five touchdowns), Laurent (17 tackles, five sacks, general chaos) and Stephen (28 tackles, seven special teams tackles, two interceptions and a pick.)
But Fantuz has looked very much like his old, healthy self this season and is on pace for his first 1,000 yard season since 2010 – if he can remain healthy.
Honourable mentions: Laurent, Stephen, guard Ryan Bomben
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Brandon Banks, returner
Given that we’re giving Banks the team MOP award, he sort of has to get the special teams one, too. But kicker Brett Maher deserves some consideration as well, given that he has connected on 87.5 per cent of his field goals (including 17 straight) and is currently second in the league with a 47.3 yard punting average.
Honourable mention: Frederic Plesius, linebacker
Most Outstanding Lineman: Ryan Bomben, guard
Hard to quantify offensive line play but Bomben has been a steady presence on a unit that has dealt with a new position coach and an injury to centre Mike Filer: having a six-year vet like Bomben next to him has helped second-year centre Mathieu Girard fill the gap.
The Ticats have surrendered 23 sacks this season, putting them middle of the pack league-wide, while Bomben has committed just two penalties this season (one for holding, one for procedure.)
Honourable mentions: Offensive tackles Brian Simmons and Jeremy Lewis.
Most Outstanding Rookie: Brandon Revenberg, offensive lineman
Selected with the third overall pick in the 2016 CFL Draft, Revenberg has dressed for every game this season – unusual for a first-year Canadian player. He’s contributed on special teams, lined up in certain offensive formations and spelled left guard Peter Dyakowski at times.
American linebacker Larry Dean – second on the team in tackles – would be an obvious choice but he’s ineligible because of his NFL experience.
Honourable mentions: linebacker Terrell Davis.
Notes: the Ticats made the signing of receiver John Chiles official on Thursday and head coach Kent Austin said quarterback Zach Collaros, who played with Chiles in Toronto, was consulted on the decision. “There’s a relationship there so we were able to do some vetting through him and others,” Austin said… the team is also assigning Canadian linebacker Byron Archambault (ankle) to the six-game injured list… Centre Mike Filer practiced for the first time since injuring his ankle on July 15… defensive end John Chick was limited in practice on Thursday but Austin said he’ll play Monday against the Argos… Austin was asked about the controversy surrounding 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who is refusing to stand for the American national anthem to protest racism and police brutality in that country. “”I come from a military family and we fought as a country for his right to express his opinion. That’s what’s beautiful about our country. I’ve got no issues with a guy expressing his opinion. You could maybe argue the merits of the methodology but that, to me, is a different question.”