3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 8

Photo courtesy: Ted Pritchard/Rattleboxmultimedia.ca/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Week 8 of the 2023 CFL season has come and gone, featuring a slate of four relatively low-scoring games and yet another quarterback injury. The Montreal Alouettes ended a three-game losing streak, the Edmonton Elks lost at home again, and the Ottawa Redblacks avoided a third straight overtime game, albeit in a losing effort.

These awards are selected by a panel of 3DownNation contributors and will be presented weekly throughout the 2023 season. Enjoy.

Offensive player of the week: REC Shawn Bane Jr., Saskatchewan Roughriders

The 28-year-old continued his breakout season during Touchdown Atlantic this past week, catching 10 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown. The score marked Saskatchewan’s first major since Mason Fine took over as the club’s starting quarterback in Week 7, though it was thrown by Jake Dolegala in a relief effort from the former NFL passer. Bane is quickly establishing himself as one of the league’s most explosive targets.

Honourable mention: QB Dane Evans, B.C. Lions

Defensive player of the week: LB Frankie Griffin, Ottawa Redblacks

The six-foot, 203-pound tackler had a monster game against Hamilton, recording 11 tackles and an interception. Ottawa held James Butler to only six carries for 12 yards and intercepted Bo Levi Mitchell five times. The return of Jovan Santos-Knox appears to have bolstered the play of Griffin as he continues to establish himself as one of the league’s best young weak-side linebackers.

Honourable mentions: DL Malik Carney, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Photo courtesy: Ted Pritchard/Rattleboxmultimedia.ca/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Special teams player of the week: KR Javon Leake, Toronto Argonauts

The second-year return man recorded his second touchdown of the year, bringing this one back 71 yards during Touchdown Atlantic. C.J. Reavis and Deontai Williams had a good chance to bring Leake down initially but he outflanked them to his right. Albert Awachie and Brian Harelimana met Leake once he reached the middle of the field but he split the defenders easily before breaking contain for the score.

Honourable mention: K Rene Paredes, Calgary Stampeders

Breakout player of the week: LB Frankie Griffin, Ottawa Redblacks

The third-year defender has shown why he’s remained in the starting lineup despite the level of competition in a deep Ottawa linebacking corps. He’s now made 39 defensive tackles, one special teams tackle, and one interception through seven games on the year, demonstrating a strong combination of athleticism and physicality.

Honourable mention: DB Kabion Ento, Montreal Alouettes

Offensive line of the week: Montreal Alouettes

After being on pace to allow 99 sacks this year following their first four games of the season, Montreal’s offensive line did an excellent job of controlling the line of scrimmage against Calgary. The unit allowed only one sack, which came courtesy of defensive back Branden Dozier, and opened up plenty of rushing lanes for William Stanback, who had 15 carries for a season-high 83 yards.

Honourable mention: Toronto Argonauts

Coach of the week: DC Ryan Phillips, B.C. Lions

The 40-year-old has now won this award five times in eight weeks, which is a testament to how B.C.’s defence has dominated opponents so far this season. The Lions are allowing only 253.9 net yards per game, which is 62.2 yards fewer than any other team in the league. B.C. has also allowed only 94 points on the season, a paltry average of 13.4 per contest.

Honourable mention: OC Jordan Maksymic, B.C. Lions

Best play of the week: Kai Locksley’s touchdown catch

The versatile quarterback-receiver caught his first professional touchdown pass on a simple bubble screen and took it 75 yards to the house. This was an impressive effort from Locksley, though it’s worth noting how bad Ottawa’s open-field tackling was on the play. Defensive back Cariel Brooks took a particularly awkward angle while chasing down the receiver before being force to reroute around the 40-yard line.

Honourable mention: Javon Leake’s punt return touchdown

Photo: Timothy Matwey/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Worst play of the week: All of Edmonton’s offensive snaps

The Elks were shut out for the second time this season in a humiliating 27-0 loss to the B.C. Lions that saw the club set a new North American professional sports record for the longest home losing streak. The club managed only 12 first downs, 219 yards of net offence, and never advanced the ball into the red zone. Edmonton’s offence is now averaging a pathetic 13.1 points per game on the season.

Honourable mention: Bo Levi Mitchell’s late-game sneak

Best game of the week: Calgary Stampeders vs. Montreal Alouettes

This was a solid game, though it would have been more entertaining had either team found success in the red zone. Rene Paredes and David Côté combined for 12 field goals with the only touchdown coming on a pick-six by Montreal defensive Kabion Ento. Even so, the ending was very exciting as Calgary had two chances to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. All hail the Field Goal Bowl.

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Ottawa Redblacks

Worst game of the week: B.C. Lions vs. Edmonton Elks

Edmonton’s futility has grown beyond novelty and entered a realm that can only be described as truly pathetic. Blowouts are boring and this game got out of hand quickly before the Lions scored a go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter. Teams don’t necessarily have to be good in order to play entertaining football but the Elks are bad and boring, which is an awful combination.

Honourable mention: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Toronto Roughriders