Ticat award winners feast on the spoils of victory

One big Hamilton Tiger-Cat award winner showed up hungry, the other with food.

Linebacker Larry Dean and offensive lineman Ryan Bomben both took home a pair of team awards on Wednesday, Dean as the most outstanding and defensive player, Bomben the offensive lineman and top Canadian. Dean arrived for interviews with a stash of Halloween candy in his pocket while the media-shy Bomben was hoping for a little payoff.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Bomben joked. “I was hoping for chips or something, maybe some leftovers from Halloween.”

Kicker Sergio Castillo won the Most Outstanding Special Teams Award after converting 29 of his 34 field goal attempts (85.3 per cent) and averaging 44.9 yards per punt on 94 attempts. He suffered a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 6 at Winnipeg. Defensive back Richard Leonard is team’s the Most Outstanding Rookie and should have a shot at the CFL award in that category.

Both Dean and Bomben have enjoyed excellent seasons despite the team’s 5-12 record. Dean had 93 defensive tackles, three sacks and five pass knock-downs in 17 games this season while Bomben has had yet another all-star calibre year at guard.

“Larry is certainly deserving, he’s all over the place when you look at the film. He’s just a real good person, too,” said head coach June Jones who, along with six local media members, voted on the winners. “I’m happy for him and I’m happy for all of them.”

Bomben said while he appreciates the recognition, it doesn’t do much to take the sting out of the first non-playoff season of his career. He says coming in on the Monday following their playoff elimination was the most difficult day in a 2017 full of them.

“There was the feeling that you’d failed. That was the toughest part of this year: the 0-8 was easy compared to coming in knowing that we were left playing for pride,” Bomben said. “The individual stuff isn’t as important when the team isn’t successful. Winning the Grey Cup, and winning these awards would be a lot more meaningful.”

Now in his second season with Hamilton, Dean has one more milestone he’d like to get to: 100 tackles, something no Ticat has done since Jamall Johnson in 2010. He’ll suit up Friday against Montreal needing seven more to get there.

“I’m just going to go out there and play. One hundred, you think about it but it’s kind of like a baseball player, if you go out there thinking about swinging for the fences, you won’t hit a home run,” he said.

Like a number of key contributors this season, Dean is slated to be a free agent in February. While he expects to see what his options are, he could see himself returning to Hamilton.

“From top to bottom, everybody is one big family here. From day one, they were talking to me like they know me for years and I felt that comfort level,” he said. “What this town represents, that hard-working, blue-collar mentality, that’s where I come from. I definitely can relate.”

Notes: Long snapper Aaron Crawford suffered a torn ACL in the game against Ottawa last Friday and is done for the year. Crawford was injured in the first quarter but finished the game and initially thought he’d be available this week. But further evaluation revealed the extent of the injury. “That was the weirdest thing. He finished the game and felt like he was going to be able to play this week but it was worse (than we thought.)” Jones said. “He’s a tough sucker.”

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