3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 9

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

Week 9 of the 2023 CFL season is officially in the books, capping a slate of relatively one-sided games. The Saskatchewan Roughriders snapped a three-game losing streak, the Toronto Argonauts suffered their first loss of the season, and the Montreal Alouettes are now back over .500.

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 Kenny Lawler, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The star receiver raised eyebrows when he set a goal of reaching 2,000 yards despite missing the first six games of the season but responded with a monster outing against B.C., catching seven passes for 200 yards and one touchdown. His production would have been even better had a long gain not been negated due to an offensive pass interference penalty, which he felt was a “horrible call.”

Honourable mention: QB Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Defensive player of the week: DL Shawn Lemon, Montreal Alouettes

The 34-year-old showed everyone why he shouldn’t have had to wait so long to earn a contract this season. Lemon was a one-man wrecking crew against the Ticats, recording three tackles, two sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble. We’re still not sure why he ran backwards after picking off Taylor Powell but there’s no doubt that the two-time Grey Cup champion has elevated Montreal’s pass rush in a big way.

Honourable mention: DL Anthony Lanier II, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Special teams player of the week: LB Kevin Francis, Ottawa Redblacks

The 30-year-old hasn’t wasted any time making an impact in the nation’s capital since being traded from the Edmonton Elks. He made four special teams tackles at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday as Ottawa’s cover teams did an exceptional job of limiting dangerous return specialist Mario Alford, averaging 47.9 net yards on seven punts from Richie Leone.

Honourable mention: K Brett Lauther, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Breakout player of the week: REC Jerreth Sterns, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The five-foot-nine, 175-pound target was a monster at Western Kentucky University in 2021 when he caught 150 passes for 1,902 yards and 17 touchdowns in a single season. He wasted no time making an impact in his first career CFL game on Sunday, making seven receptions for 71 yards, including a tough second-down grab on the game-winning drive.

Honourable mention: REC Tommylee Lewis, Calgary Stampeders

Offensive line of the week: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

This unit consisting of Stanley Bryant, Geoff Gray, Chris Kolankowski, Patrick Neufeld, and Jermarcus Hardrick was near perfect in the club’s 50-14 win over the Lions. Winnipeg’s offensive line allowed zero sacks against a talented B.C. defensive front and opened plenty of holes in the running game as the Blue Bombers rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

Honourable mention: Montreal Alouettes

Photo: Michael Scraper/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Coach of the week: OC Buck Pierce, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

B.C.’s defence entered Week 9 as easily the best in the CFL, allowing only five offensive touchdowns all season and an average of 11.6 offensive points per game. It’s clear that Pierce identified some things he could exploit on film as Zach Collaros threw for 162 yards with long touchdowns to Dalton Schoen and Kenny Lawler in the first six minutes of the contest. Though Winnipeg’s players executed well, the game plan was close to flawless.

Honourable mention: DC Brent Monson, Calgary Stampeders

Best play of the week: LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Ottawa Redblacks

Jamal Morrow looked like he was easily going to convert for a first down when Santos-Knox flew in and ripped him backwards, holding him one yard shy of the marker. The Riders fell short of the first down after gambling on the following play, giving Ottawa possession at Saskatchewan’s 20-yard line. The 29-year-old was all over the field against the Riders, recording nine defensive tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass knockdown.

Honourable mention: Kenny Lawler’s touchdown catch

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Worst play of the week: HC Bob Dyce, Ottawa Redblacks

The Redblacks were aggressive midway through the fourth quarter when Tyrrell Pigrome was stuffed on third-and-short with his team in field goal range. Instead of staying aggressive in the final minute of the game, Dyce elected to kick a field goal from the one-yard line instead of trying for a touchdown on third-and-goal. The kick briefly gave Ottawa a one-point lead, which evaporated moments later when Brett Lauther nailed a 54-yard field goal for Saskatchewan.

Honourable mention: Anthony Federico’s roughing the kicker penalty

Best game of the week: Ottawa Redblacks vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders

This contest was sloppy at times but multiple fourth-quarter lead changes, questionable coaching decisions, big plays, takeaways, and a massive last-minute field goal made this one a must-watch game. We were also treated to a sheep running around the field during halftime, a classic moment that will surely be referenced for years to come.

Honourable mention: B.C. Lions vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Worst game of the week: Toronto Argonauts vs. Calgary Stampeders

Chad Kelly left the game due to an ankle injury early in the second quarter, after which this game became a complete snooze fest. Rookie quarterback Cameron Dukes struggled badly in Kelly’s place and Calgary responded by running an ultra-conservative offence in order to limit the possibility of making any mistakes. If you had the choice between watching this game or partying on Friday night, here’s hoping you partied.

Honourable mention: Montreal Alouettes vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats