3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Labour Day weekend

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Labour Day weekend is officially in the books, which means it’s time to look back and recognize some of the top performances from the CFL’s four-game slate.

Teams are expected to be playing their best at this time of year and the clubs certainly stepped up, providing four high-scoring, entertaining contests, three of which were one-score games in the final two minutes.

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

Photo courtesy: Montreal Alouettes

Offensive player of the week: REC Austin Mack, Montreal Alouettes

The rookie pass-catcher was targeted 13 times in Montreal’s loss to the Lions, making seven catches for 143 yards and one touchdown. The score came on an incredible catch he made working against T.J. Lee, reaching out his hands at the last possible moment while diving in the back of the end zone. Mack needs only 29 more yards to become the first CFL receiver to reach the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Honourable mention: QB Vernon Adams Jr., B.C. Lions

Defensive player of the week: SAM Adarius Pickett, Toronto Argonauts

The third-year defender was a game-wrecker against Hamilton as he made nine defensive tackles and one sack on Labour Day. Pickett has now recorded 64 defensive tackles, 11 special teams tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble on the season and appears on track to be named an all-star for the first time in his CFL career.

Honourable mention: DB Nic Marshall, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Special teams player of the week: K Brett Lauther, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The veteran placekicker started the Labour Day Classic with a bang, recovering his own onside kick to give Saskatchewan the opening possession of the game. He was perfect the rest of the way, connecting on five-of-five field goal attempts and his lone one-point convert. Lauther’s biggest kick of the day came with a little over one minute remaining as he nailed an 18-yard field goal to send Sunday’s game to overtime.

Honourable mention: KR Tyreik McAllister, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Breakout player of the week: DB Quincy Mauger, B.C. Lions

The Georgia product has 20 starts under his belt but had arguably his most productive game in B.C.’s 34-25 win over Montreal, recording three tackles, one sack, and one interception. There are a number of veteran safeties who have become household names in the CFL, including Branden Dozier, Tunde Adeleke, and Marc-Antoine Dequoy, and one could argue that Mauger is as good as any of them.

Honourable mention: DB Jaxon Ford, Saskatchewan Roughriders

Offensive line of the week: Toronto Argonauts

Toronto’s unit of Isiah Cage, Ryan Hunter, Darius Ciraco, Peter Nicastro, and Dejon Allen kept Chad Kelly on his feet all game, allowing zero sacks in hostile territory at Tim Hortons Field. There were also plenty of running lanes for A.J. Ouellette and Andrew Harris, who combined for 16 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown. Kelly also scored a major along the ground, notching his league-leading seventh rushing touchdown of the season.

Honourable mention: B.C. Lions

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

Coach of the week: DC Jason Shivers, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Riders faced a tough test on Sunday and the defence passed with flying colours, limiting Zach Collaros to only five completions through three quarters. Saskatchewan held Winnipeg to 372 yards of net offence and limited Kenny Lawler and Dalton Schoen to a combined five catches. Collaros was complimentary of Shivers’ defence after the contest as Nic Marshall forced the game’s only turnover on Winnipeg’s second possession, leading directly to a field goal from Brett Lauther.

Honourable mention: HC Ryan Dinwiddie, Toronto Argonauts

Best play of the week: QB Tre Ford, Edmonton Elks

There was a ton of competition for this award this week with brilliant plays from Jeshrun Antwi, Austin Mack, William Stanback, Alexander Hollins, Brett Lauther, Nic Demski, Nic Marshall, A.J. Ouellette, and Kyran Moore. However, Tre Ford’s 33-yard scramble against Calgary was simply too good to ignore. It was one of many big runs for Ford on Labour Day as he finished the game with 135 rushing yards, setting a new single-game record for a Canadian quarterback.

Honourable mention: REC Nic Demski, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Worst play of the week: DL Pete Robertson, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The veteran pass rusher knocked down a pass from Zach Collaros that momentarily stopped a Winnipeg drive, though he then knocked the quarterback to the turf with a violent headbutt. The officials initially missed the call, though Robertson was penalized for unnecessary roughness after the command centre intervened. The CFL was quick to assign supplemental discipline as Robertson has received a one-game suspension for the hit.

Honourable mention: OL Brandon Weldon, Calgary Stampeders

Best game of the week: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders

This game started out slow but became an instant classic by the end as it was the first Labour Day Classic between the two teams ever to go to overtime. Zach Collaros appeared to be interested exclusively in completing passes of 30-plus yards, while Tevin Jones had a sensational catch-and-run and Nic Marshall had a brilliant interception. Arguably the most memorable play of the game saw Pete Robertson headbutt Collaros, for which he received a one-game suspension, amping up the hype for this weekend’s rematch in the Banjo Bowl.

Honourable mention: Edmonton Elks vs. Calgary Stampeders

Worst game of the week: Toronto Argonauts vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats

This contest was entertaining, though it was clearly the worst of a good bunch. Toronto got out to an early 17-0 lead and seemingly went on autopilot for two quarters as both offences sputtered in the heat at Tim Hortons Field. The teams combined for three touchdowns in the final 11 minutes, though the result never felt in doubt. The Argonauts always felt fully in control, as they have for most of the season en route to a 9-1 start.

Honourable mention: B.C. Lions vs. Montreal Alouettes