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November 21, 2018

Player Awards Primer

Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill (4) warms up before CFL action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Sunday, Nov 11, 2018. (CFL PHOTO - MATT SMITH)

EDMONTON – The story wasn’t supposed to go down like this.

No, the plan was to have Andrew Harris, Stanley Bryant and Adam Bighill properly feted at the Canadian Football League’s Most Outstanding Player Awards Thursday night, but with 50-plus Winnipeg Blue Bombers teammates and staff all in attendance at the Shaw Conference Centre.

The script would then have included the perfect finale, with Harris, Bryant and Bighill all playing significant roles for the Bombers in a win on Grey Cup Sunday.

That dream scenario was snuffed out last Sunday in Calgary in the West Final, but the show must go on and the three Bombers up for awards all have legitimate shots to grab the hardware – Harris and Bryant as possible repeat winners for Most Outstanding Canadian and Offensive Lineman, respectively, with Bighill repeating as the top defender after winning the award in 2015 as a member of the B.C. Lions.

Just FYI, the Bombers haven’t had three players win MOP awards in the same season since 2001, when Khari Jones (Outstanding), Doug Brown (Canadian), Dave Mudge (Offensive Lineman) and Charles Roberts (Special Teams) were all honoured after a 14-4 season. Roberts, it’s worth noting, was also a finalist for the Most Outstanding Rookie but was the runner-up to Lions linebacker Barrin Simpson.

The Bombers have had three award winners on three different occasions: 2001 (see above); 1987: Tom Clements (Outstanding), Scott Flagel (Canadian) and Chris Walby (Offensive Lineman) and in 1981: Dieter Brock (Outstanding), Larry Butler (Offensive Lineman) and Joe Poplawski (Canadian).

Here’s a look at the three Bombers and their accomplishments in 2018 as a part of our MOP Awards primer:

MOST OUTSTANDING CANADIAN PLAYER

Finalists:

West: Andrew Harris, RB, Blue Bombers
East: Brad Sinopoli, WR, Ottawa REDBLACKS
Harris in 2018: Led the CFL in rushing for the second straight season with 1,390 yards – including a 5.8-yards per carry average – while puling in 58 passes for another 451 yards. He finished with 11 touchdowns, too, which was tied for third most in the league.
Sinopoli in 2018: Led the CFL with 116 receptions for 1,376 yards and five touchdowns. The 116 catches was the most by a Canadian player.
Odds for Harris: 50-50. He’s posted another spectacular season but Sinopoli’s story – a converted QB who reinvented himself as a receiver – plus the 116 catches might have made him a trendy pick for voters.

MOST OUTSTANDING OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

Finalists:

West: Stanley Bryant, LT, Blue Bombers
East: Brandon Revenberg, LG, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Bryant in 2018: Dominant, again, as the Bombers not only led the CFL in rushing, but also in scoring.
Revenberg in 2018: The Ticats and Bombers tied for the third-fewest sacks allowed in the CFL, while Hamilton finished third in scoring and first in net offence.
Odds for Bryant: 75-25. The fact the Bombers led the league in rushing and scoring are two prominent feathers in Bryant’s cap. This award is a tough one for voters, because few study the work of the O-line enough to know who is shining. Bryant’s reputation, plus the fact he won this last year, might help him here.

MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER

Finalists:

West: Adam Bighill, LB, Blue Bombers
East: Larry Dean, LB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Bighill in 2018: Finished third in the CFL in total defensive plays with 127, including 105 tackles, four sacks, a league-best four forced fumbles, two interceptions – including one for a touchdowns – and eight tackles for a loss.
Dean in 2018: Was fifth in the league in total defensive plays with 113. He also had 105 tackles and two picks.
Odds for Bighill: 90-10. No slight against Dean at all, but Bighill didn’t just pile up juicy numbers, he helped transform the Bombers defence into a CFL force by season’s end.


The other awards include:

Most Outstanding Player: finalists Bo Levi Mitchell, QB, Calgary; Jeremiah Masoli, QB Hamilton.

Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: finalists: Ty Long, K, B.C.; Lewis Ward, K, Ottawa.

Most Outstanding Rookie Player: finalists: Jordan Williams-Lambert, Rec, Saskatchewan; Lewis Ward, K, Ottawa.