Ticats’ Orlondo Steinauer on Simoni Lawrence after CFL tackle record: ‘You either love him or you hate him’

Simoni Lawrence is beloved by the Ticats, but an enemy for the opposition.

Just ask the Bombers who had to deal with a locked in Lawrence as the star linebacker produced a single-game CFL record 17 tackles in Hamilton’s 33-13 victory in The Peg during Week 16.

“I just want to thank all my teammates. I got the best teammates in the world. This season’s just been a bunch of adversity and all my teammates always got my back. I’m just on the best team,” an emotional Lawrence said.

“It’s an individual goal but it all goes to my teammates. Those guys are frickin’ monsters and I love playing with them. That’s all we’re trying to do is play to the Tiger-Cats standard.”

The 30-year-old is now on pace for a career-best season in terms of tackles despite missing two games due to suspension. Lawrence was disciplined for a hit to the head on quarterback Zach Collaros in Week 1 and since he’s been fined for two separate infractions.

“He’s a passionate player. You either love him or you hate him, and that’s okay. He plays football aggressive. He wants to be great,” head coach Orlondo Steinauer said.

Anybody who ever has watched us practice, this isn’t a light switch Simoni Lawrence where he just turns it on during the game. He’s relentless in practice, he’s committed to his off-season training.”

Lawrence’s peak physical condition was evident as 10 of the 17 stops came in the fourth quarter. That prevented any chance for Winnipeg to come back in the game. No. 21 was all over the field.

Lawrence tackle breakdown:

First quarter: pass play, tackles Drew Wolitarsky, seven-yard gain
First quarter: run play, tackles Andrew Harris, three-yard gain
First quarter: run play, tackles Chris Streveler, two-yard gain
Second quarter: pass play, tackles Andrew Harris, one-yard gain
Second quarter: pass play, tackles Kenny Lawler, six-yard gain
Third quarter: run play, tackles Chris Streveler, three-yard gain
Third quarter: pass play, tackles Nic Demski, 13-yard gain
Third quarter: run play, tackles Andrew Harris, minus one-yard gain
Fourth quarter: pass play, tackles Andrew Harris, five-yard gain
Fourth quarter: pass play, tackles Johnny Augustine, 12-yard gain
Fourth quarter: run play, tackles Johnny Augustin, nine-yard gain
Fourth quarter: pass play, tackles Andrew Harris, eight-yard gain
Fourth quarter: run play, tackles Chris Streveler, 10-yard gain
Fourth quarter: pass play, tackles Kenny Lawler, nine-yard gain
Fourth quarter: pass play, tackles Nic Demski, 20-yard gain
Fourth quarter: pass play, tackles Drew Wolitarsky, eight-yard gain
Fourth quarter: pass play, tackles Kenny Lawler, seven-yard gain

13 of the 17 tackles were made within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage while four were drive-ending. Former Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Reggie Hunt set the previous mark in 2003 with 16 tackles. Prior to Hunt, Calvin Tiggle notched 15 in 1999 with the Ticats.

That same year Tiggle won the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award leading Hamilton’s defence on CFL championship run which culminated in hoisting the Grey Cup. Lawrence is attempting to accomplish the same feats 20 years later as the unquestioned leader of the league’s toughest defence.

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